Sunday, May 3, 2015

And the winner is ... Chris Paul

And so, once again, boxing couldn't get out of its own way.  Biggest marquee night for the sport in two decades, and Chris Paul throws the most memorable punch of the whole deal.

That would be Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, who, four hours' drive west of where Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao were introducing America to a new sleep aid, dropped the lordly San Antonio Spurs with a straight right hand.

Straight over Tim Duncan, that is. Straight off the glass and in. Straight-up the signature moment of Big Saturday, as the Clips took out the defending NBA champions, 111-109, on Paul's banker over Duncan with a second to play.

It was a dazzling end to a scintillating Game 7, and what happened in Las Vegas suffered greatly by comparison. The big fight went exactly the way the smart guys forecast, unfortunately: Mayweather, who ducked Pacquiao for five years, ducked him for 12 rounds, running all the way to his 48th victory without a loss, the undisputed welterweight title and coronation as the greatest fighter of his era, such as it is.

It was a brilliant display of technical boxing, which is a gentle way of saying it was a full-on snoozefest. Benjamin Moore drying on a fence would have held more drama. A man seeding his lawn would have made your pulse beat faster. Forget Michael Buffer; the ring announcer should have been the Scott's "Feed Your Lawn, Feed It" guy.

If this was boxing's big chance to become a player again in American sport, it fell flat. And again, boxing was mostly to blame for that.  While 170,000-plus watched American Pharoah beat Firing Line in a stirring stretch duel in the Kentucky Derby, only 500 actual boxing fans were allowed to view Mayweather-Pacquiao in person in a 16,000-seat arena. All the other tickets were reserved for the two boxing camps and their entourages and various network suits, while the promoters charged $150 for the pay-per-view to further limit access.

And then the fight turned out to be the least compelling Big Thing of the day, by miles and miles. American Pharoah and Firing Line in Kentucky, Chris Paul in L.A. ... there was your real May Hem on this day.

And Mayweather-Pacquiao?

Just another fight America mostly missed, after all the hype.

Point for America.




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