Actors are so fortunate. They can choose whether they will appear in tragedy or in comedy, whether they will suffer or make merry, laugh or shed tears. But in real life it is different. Most men and women are forced to perform parts for which they have no qualifications. Our Guildensterns play Hamlet for us, and our Hamlets have to jest like Prince Hal. The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.
—Oscar Wilde, “Lord Arthur Saville’s Crimes”
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao square off tonight in what will be boxing’s richest fight ever. Grantland provides an entertaining review of boxing’s history, how it’s playbook has run its course, and the ways in which that history and playbook are undercurrents running through tonight’s fight. Very well written and well-worth your time. Here’s a sample.
Now, for one weekend, in a media age in which it is impossible to ignore the crimes and in which everything hidden shall be revealed, boxing is going to try to work its illusion one more time, for higher stakes than it ever has worked that illusion before, for more money and, probably, for the survival of the sport itself. It will try to make Floyd Mayweather’s crimes disappear. It will try to make his victims disappear, too. And there will be people, loud and righteous, who will shout that they see through it all, that they can see the wires and the pulleys and all the hidden trapdoors vital to the illusion. It’s a last, long-shot roll, and everyone will pretend to hold their breath, as though something of real value were in play.
If you’re interested in the glory days of boxing, read the whole thing.