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The night of the executioner

Noel A. Albano / The Spectator

And so the fight to end all fights in the welterweight category in this decade is a go. One man will claim the title as the greatest.

An older Floyd Mayweather Jr., who has fought ten less fights than Pacquiao, has the solid odds-makers’ nod. But when was the last time he has thrown a punch in anger against a fighter the caliber of the Pacman?

No one could instantly remember. No one because of all of his ring enemies, it is Pacquiao who has done all the chasing of him and American the not-so-artful dodging and weaving. That has been so since 2009, a year Pacquiao, in his prime, would have been hard if not impossible to defeat. His punching power is fearsome, ferocious. He has knocked out 38 foes in 57 fights—some presumably tougher than the toughest Mayweather ever faced.

Mayweather talks rapidly and moves fast, sleek with his jabs, artfully dancing and dodging as though he were an artist in a ballroom than the supreme virtuoso in a ring methodically stripping his foe of dignity. He has fought 47 fights, and kayoed 26 foes. “He will be number 48,” he said of Pacquiao, but hesitant to predict if he could put away the Pacman inside the distance.

Has he lost the fire and the hunger? Here is a man, described by Tim Keown of ESPN The Magazine, as the “modern embodiment of what Gay Talese, in describing Frank Sinatra, called ‘the fully emancipated male.” Mayweather is the kind of man who “can do whatever he wants whenever he wants with just about whomever he wants.”

So he wanted Pacquiao, in his own luxurious time, or when he thinks his body will be ready. He chose May 2, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, for the fight that will command the ungodly prize of $250 million. It will be a 60-40 split for him, but he will be fighting more for his reputation than the prize money.

“I am the best,” he said, spoken with the prophet’s faith. Never has a fighter been as brash since the young Cassius Clay, who called the round when he would stop an opponent, much like the home-run king Babe Ruth pointing his bat in the direction of the gallery where he would blast his next big homer.

But, as my neighborhood barber, Mang Boy delightfully notes, he is a fighter with a lot of slashing and jabbing words against Pacquiao but little action on the ring the past few years. “No more running around for him,” he says. “Pacquiao can’t keep waiting for him forever.”

It is a verdict pronounced with the certainty that Mayweather, undefeated, will see the night end with his chin kissing the canvas, or groping on all fours.

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