Floyd Mayweather made the announcement Friday afternoon on a social media platform that he will fight Filipino Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The bout is expected to be the richest in boxing history and will settle the issue that has caused so many heated debates over the past few years: Who is the best fighter in boxing today?
Mayweather will receive the majority of a 60-40 split of a fight that is estimated to gross up to $400 million. Showtime, Mayweather’s contracted cable network, will work with rival network HBO in a joint-telecast to air the fight. A similar deal between the two networks was reached in 2002 for the highly anticipated heavyweight showdown between HBO-contracted Lennox Lewis and Showtime’s Mike Tyson.
For years, Mayweather (47-0, 26KO) and Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38KO) have been the two best fighters in the world. Yet, egos and contractual obligations have kept the two pugilists from fighting each other in spite of constant public demand.
Mayweather, who turns 38 on Tuesday, has won world titles in five weight classes and has largely remained an elite fighter for over 14 years ever since his knockout victory over Diego Corrales.
Pacquiao, a 36-year-old southpaw, has won world titles in eight weight classes while also being elected to congress in his native Philippines. To say he is a national icon in his country is a major understatement.
Negotiations for the fight have risen and collapsed since talks first began in 2010. The fight looked to be dead in the coffin in recent years due to Pacquiao suffering back-to-back losses in 2012. First, he suffered a highly controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradly. Then, he took on rival Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth bout between the two and suffered a sixth-round knockout loss.
Pacquiao rebounded from these losses by outpointing Brandon Rios followed by a revenge decision victory over Bradley. In November, Pacquiao knocked down Chris Algieri six times to easily outpoint him.
Meanwhile, Mayweather has fought four out of six fights for his deal with Showtime. He easily outpointed Robert Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez before facing Argentinian puncher Marcos Maidana. Their first fight was close enough to warrant a rematch which Mayweather won with more ease than their first bout.
The negotiations for this fight have dominated the boxing scene, making headlines more often than actual fights taking place. Now that the fight is actually taking place, it is expected to continue to dominate conversation among the boxing community. This puts a lot at stake regarding this. Yes, Mayweather and Pacquiao’s legacy are at stake, but that isn’t the most important thing to consider. If the fight is exciting, which is a real possibility considering the age of the two, it will legitimize boxing to some degree and create a renewed interest in boxing for the general sports community. If the fight turns out to be a dud, the sport will live on but it will turn off any potential new fans and jade current fight fans.
The most that can anyone can ask for of this bout is a good fight. Forget the money, forget the records, and forget the debates. As interesting as those things are, the only thing that truly matters is whether the fight will be exciting or not.
This fight is being called ‘The Fight of the Century’. Ali-Frazier I was given the same title and managed to deliver an action-packed, thrilling fight.
Hopefully history repeats itself.