After last Wednesday night the challenge with writing about this little Argentine is not about how often I do it, or whether it would not now be considered boring, monotonous and almost patronizing, but about finding new superlatives to describe and capture the dazzling wizardry of Lionel Messi.
I have written about him several times in the past as described him as the greatest footballer, with the ball at his feet, I have ever seen in my long relationship with the game of football.
Not everyone agrees with me. Some purists insist that until Messi actually leads Argentina to win the World Cup he would never be accepted as greater than both Pele and Maradona who led their countries to winning it!
The opportunity came during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but for some unfathomable reasons Messi was rather subdued and failed to do what he did last Wednesday night for FC Barcelona when it appeared the match with Bayern Munich was going nowhere with both teams cancelling out each other with some very tight marking and well-organised defending.
To unlock the knot the match needed an extraordinary intervention. It came 13 minutes to the end.Lionel Messi turned on his magic. His two goals within the space of a few minutes were sheer genius.
That’s what separates a genius from the rest. When the going becomes impossible the genius takes up personal responsibility, and, against all odds, finds a way to unlock the key!
In the 77th minute Lionel Messi took up the challenge, turned full throttle the array of his dribbling skills and, with uncanny ease, brilliance and poetic movement, buried two great goals past the current best goalkeeper in the world, Neur!
Four minutes into injury time, he sends Neymar on his way with a telegraphic pass for a glorious run and third goal that climaxed a night of some truly exceptional football of the highest standards.
As I wrote in my pre-match analysis, the result of the match had little to do with the coaching on both sides. Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique found nothing to add to what they set out at the start of the match. The match needed either a moment of individual magic or of madness to alter its course. That’s when Messi showed up.
Moments after the encounter I received a SMS from Bishop Felix Femi Ajakaiye of the Ekiti Diocese of the Catholic Church. It read: “This is how a football match should be played. Never a dull moment, fantastic, entertaining, colourful, intelligent and of course, merciless Messi, an intelligent GENUIS. This game is really ‘play for play, skill for skill, technique for technique, pound for pound’. My beloved Nigeria, kindly wake up from your football slumber! The struggle continues.”
Need I say more?
Mayweather Vs Pacquaio – I Beg To Disagree!
Permit me to state right from the onset that I have no authority to back the following comment on the recent fight between Floyd Weatherman and Manny Pacquaio.
So, these are just my ranting, those of an ordinary boxing fan that has been following boxing fights around the world without ever pretending to be an analyst.
The first major fight I ever watched on television was Muhammed Ali in “rumble in the jungle’. That was an epic fight and, therefore, my only claim to the ‘authority’ to delve into this matter.
The Pacquaio/Mayweather fight, with all the unprecedented hype around it, was a big disappointment. It was everything but the anticipated classic.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the unification welterweight fight has generated into controversy since the fight was declared won by a man who spent the entire 12 rounds throwing only two good punches, teasing, taunting and dancing away from his opponent.
Weatherman, the only man in history standing on the verge of matching the longest standing record in world boxing – Rocky Marciano’s 49 unbeaten fights – would not be denied that opportunity by an opponent who spent all night hunting without making one kill! Pacquaio landed probably only two clean punches that found their target throughout the fight!
I, therefore, humbly but vigorously disagree with the verdict of the judges that gave the match to Mayweather.
I must have watched a different fight!
The fight I watched should either have written-off as a no-fight, and people’s money refunded them (something that is unlikely to ever happen), or declared a draw and a re-match ordered! Neither of the boxers deserved to walk out of the ring that night with their heads high!
Last Saturday night I sat through the entire fight, round after round, watching closely and waiting for the much-promised explosive action that was to characterise the ‘Fight of the Century’.
At the end of the 12th round these were my thoughts:
1. Floyd Mayweather did not win the bout. He did not do anything during the fight, in my reckoning, to deserve all the accolades been showered on him by some analysts whose eyes must have been jaundiced and saw what I did not. You could count the number of punches that cleanly hit both boxers on the fingers of one hand! Floyd’s defensive tactics made the Pacman look clumsy and bad!
2. Manny Pacquaio was the more aggressive boxer. He spent the entire night tracking down Mayweather and trying to box him in a corner. He ended up throwing punches that kept missing their intended target.
3. The fight appeared to me to have been fought on the premise that for Floyd to lose that match he had to be thoroughly beaten! He did not fight to win. He fought not to lose. There is a big difference. He was not beaten, so, I agree he did not deserve to lose his crown.
Given such an unusual situation, how should such a fight be judged?
There was a lot at stake outside the fight than in the ring!
A Pacquaio victory would have been undeserved and injustice to boxing. You do not destroy a rich boxing history such as Floyd possessed with such a poorly fought fight! It would have catastrophic to boxing, and to the prospects of a future bigger fight with an even bigger purse.
A Mayweather victory still holds all the aces. Pacquaio has nothing to lose from the defeat after all he had lost a few fights in the past. He saw glimpses of the possibility he could actually have won that fight with a little bit of luck, so he would definitely seek a rematch once again, which is exactly what I hear he has expressed.
So, the conspiracy theorists may not be wrong. A rematch is almost certain to be on the cards now, and the money in this second fight will make the first one look like child’s play!
Take away the politics, the conspiracies, and controversies, the story of Manny Pacquaio and Floyd Mayweather has surely not ended.
I believe a rematch will give the world an authentic winner. It is only that fight that will create an authentic record, attract the biggest prize money in history and fully restore the integrity of boxing!