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After Mayweather-Pacquiao Bout, Fans Evaluate Boxing


Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquiao are not the only ones recovering from their big fight on Saturday night. Sports fans are recovering as well as they try to digest what happened and try to figure out if their feelings about boxing are good, bad or maybe just indifferent. NPR's Tom Goldman hung around Las Vegas an extra day to size up the impact from this fight - so kind of him to do duty in Vegas for us. Tom, good morning to you.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Could you speak just a little softer, David? I am trying to recover, but yeah, good morning.

GREENE: (Laughter) Sure, I imagined you behind a slot machine recovering or something like that. So - but yeah, I'll let you get back to what you have to do. This fight - millions of people watched it. For those who didn't, Mayweather wins this unanimous 12-round decision. There were no knockdowns. There were no knockouts. But this was supposed to be the fight of the century. What are the takeaways here?

GOLDMAN: Well, some people were pretty upset and said it wasn't the fight of the century; not even the fight of the weekend. You know, Floyd Mayweather was at his usual defensive best. He figured out Pacquiao quickly. He neutralized Manny's aggressiveness for the most part, but defense isn't always exciting. And for the masses - the non-boxing fans who were watching and who got caught up in the hype and the promise of this fight - it was a disappointment. Where were the fireworks, the knockdowns, the knockout? The upside, David - when all the revenue is tallied, it could reach $400 million. So obviously, there can be a mass appetite for boxing. Part of that is the spectacle of it - you know, the stars came out for this thing - but part of it was boxing's allure, too. But will people shell out up to $100 again for pay-per-view when, you know, many felt cheated by the show? We won't know until the next mega-event happens.

GREENE: Well, you know, the next mega-event raises the question of who that will be, and the question is could there be a rematch here? I mean, right after this fight, Manny Pacquiao, it's reported, had this shoulder injury, but that could set things up nicely. I mean, this could be billed as a fight with these two guys healthy.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, people are already talking about that. You know, Mayweather has one last fight scheduled on his current contract for September. He hasn't yet named an opponent. Speculation is that might be Pacquiao, but is that really best for boxing's future? People would be wary of the hype, and, really, how could they hype it, considering Mayweather says he's tired of boxing and wants to retire and Pacquiao now has lost six times?

GREENE: Well, what is boxing's future? I mean, if these stars are fading, who's out there?

GOLDMAN: You know, they're out there. The key is getting them out there in front of the public. And that's why the most important person in the Mayweather camp may not be Mayweather, but his manager, Al Haymon. He's the guy behind this new push to get boxing back on network TV on multiple networks, so people can see it in their living rooms without paying a hundred bucks for pay-per-view. Haymon's efforts to get the sport, and particularly, his stable of fighters noticed - that's the kind of bottom-up effort that could make a difference as far as mass appeal. But it'll take time. You can't just expect starts to appear out of nowhere.

GREENE: Tom, speaking of stars, I mean, I'm struck by the fact that Mayweather and Pacquiao are both tiny; I mean, 145-pound welterweights. Is it important for the sport to have a heavyweight in kind of the mold that we think about?

GOLDMAN: Oh, I think it is important. Obviously, we've had great compelling fighters in lighter divisions in the past. Think of the '80s with Hagler and Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard. But a dominant heavyweight champion - certainly an American one - trumps all in this country. You know, there's this visceral fascination about the biggest guy with the biggest punches. And there really hasn't been one since Mike Tyson nearly 30 years ago. There's talk about 6'7" Deontay Wilder, who's currently ranked second in the world, as potentially being that guy. We will see, but having that transcended heavyweight would help the sport's popularity a lot in this country.

GREENE: I'm hearing from our heavyweight champion of the world, NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.