Mayweather-Pacquiao payday a reminder of what might have been

“You a fight fan?” the owner of my laundromat asked as he leaned back against a washing machine, his arm awkwardly stretched back over the whirring of a spin cycle.

This was by far the friendliest he had been to me in almost three years of bothering him and his quaintly cramped establishment.

I rarely seemed to get him in a good mood unless he wanted to get my thoughts on the domestic disputes occupying Jerry Springer or whatever DNA parenting test was being worked out on The Maury Show.

But on Monday I was wearing my New York Mets jacket as I frantically rushed in with the bag of Manhattan Gaels jerseys worn during Saturday night’s game at Gaelic Park.

He stopped in his tracks and ordered me to immediately return to the street where I belonged, laughing the hardest I’ve ever seen him laugh.

His Yankees had won that weekend’s three-game “Subway Series” 2-1 in the Bronx. Friday and Sunday victories for the Bombers had momentarily derailed the Mets, the team with the best record in baseball. Still though, Saturday’s Mets win lit up the Empire State Building in the colours of the city (and of course the GAA club of the same parish).

“It’s only April,” I reminded him. “There’s plenty of time for the Mets to really fall apart.”

I thought I was done with him then, free to load up the machines with kit and get on with my day. But that’s when the conversation turned to boxing. “You a fight fan? Big fight this weekend, big, big fight.”

A poster for the Wladimir Klitschko still adorned one of the off-yellow supporting walls by the entrance. Beneath an ad for a hipster knitting class, just to the right of the rinky dink ATM with its $4 fees.

Glum Klitschko and determined Bryant Jennings surrounded by gold lettering. It was an alarming and maybe sad insight into the desperate promotion of one of the lower key bouts involving a prominent and dominant champion in the division.

The Garden was almost a sell-out on Saturday night for a 12-rounder that was low on quality but kept you watching anyway. Jennings - who conquered Cork-Cuban Mike ‘The Rebel’ Perez last July at the same venue - was game and scrappy and may have kept himself in line for another big payday.

But the relatively inexperienced and until then undefeated ‘By-By’ Jennings is possibly too nice, maybe not quite Broad Street, Philladelphia enough to have drawn in the sort of intrigue reserved for this Saturday’s big showdown in Las Vegas.

Klitschko brought the Ukrainian-American interest to the Garden and that was the reason some poor sap was sent to Williamsburg to stick up a poster in a laundromat frequented by the old-timers from the old country.

But my laundromat guy is Puerto Rican and he hasn’t cared about boxing since Oscar De La Hoya. In fact he hasn’t cared much for me in the time I’ve relied on his machines. Not until I wore that Mets jacket on Monday and got him all chatty about sport.

This isn’t the occasional fight fan you bring back for one last hurrah if heavyweights are fighting in Midtown. He didn’t even stay up for it. It’s Mayweather and Pacquiao which has his and countless pairs of eyes lit up.

Maybe this won’t be the fascinating clash it would have been four or five years ago but for obvious reasons, it is shaping into a prism through which many other great fights are being recalled.

Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather essentially teamed up to end De La Hoya’s illustrious career, two Vegas fights 18 months apart ending in a decision for Mayweather and a technical knockout for Pacquiao in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

But then evoked through De La Hoya - still a hero to Latinos - are names like Sugar Shane Mosley, Arturo Gatti, Felix Trinidad and above all, his compatriot Julio César Chávez.

All intertwined one way or another with Pacquiao and Mayweather, with a golden era for welterwight and the lighter and heavier classes on either side.

The diminishing abilities of Pacquiao and the increasingly obnoxious character flaws of his opponent make you forget how utterly powerful they once were.

It would be sad if this weekend were nothing more than a trip down memory lane but it’s now becoming a strong possibility.

We’ll revel in the way it was and the way it might have been while trying to find the cheapest way of doing it.

We might even trick ourselves into thinking its value for money. Whatever happens, we should all probably not try to think about where the greater portion of the money is headed.

johnwriordan@gmail.com

Twitter: JohnWRiordan

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