History prof weighs in on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight

March 5, 2015  

Randy Roberts

Randy Roberts
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Fans wanted to see a Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao match-up for years and a Purdue University American sports historian vets just how this fight will be remembered in history.

"Is this the fight everyone wanted to see, yes, but the fighters are at the tail end of their careers," said Randy Roberts, a distinguished professor of history who has written books about Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson and Mike Tyson, and is working on a book about Muhammad Ali.

The fight is May 2 in Las Vegas, and the fighters will participate in a news conference on March 11. Mayweather is 38 and Pacquiao is 36.

 "And while boxing is a secondary sport in America, the fight is likely to be the highest grossing match in history," Roberts says. "Boxing is not one of America's favorite pastimes, but a fight like this is still profitable as it builds up to a match that fans have sought for years."

Roberts, who teaches a class on boxing history, is the author of "Joe Louis: Hard Times Man," "Jack Dempsey: The Manassa Mauler," "Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and the Era of White Hopes" and "Heavy Justice: The State of Indiana v. Michael G. Tyson." He also was featured in an HBO documentary "Joe Louis: America's Hero ... Betrayed," which aired in 2008 and the award-winning Ken Burns documentary "Unforgivable Blackness."

 "Politics, race or civil issues are not a player in this fight, but these are the two great fighters of this era," Roberts says. "And they are very different fighters. Pacquiao is a risk taker who goes after the knockout and Mayweather has a more classic style, who doesn't take chances but succeeds in wearing the other fighter down."

Roberts has made more than 50 appearances on television documentaries and films in the past 20 years for the History Channel, ESPN Classic, HBO, BBC, PBS, E!TV and on the ABC, CBS and NBC networks. As a pop culture historian, he often is quoted in national media and appears on nationally syndicated radio shows. He is a regular on History Channel's "Reel To Real," and he also served as a consultant and on-camera expert for the Emmy-Award winning series "10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America."

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Randy Roberts, rroberts@purdue.edu  

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