|JMM Vs Pac-Man III should be good - photo from insideboxing.com|
“We’re looking to make the biggest fight possible and everyone knows what that fight is, little fella.” With those words the Floyd Mayweather camp blew new life into boxing’s greatest “Will They/Won’t They” drama. The “little fella” is, of course, a reference to Manny Pacquiao, the fighter that poses the greatest challenge to Mayweather’s unblemished legacy.
No official announcement has been made by either camp, and it was just over a week ago that Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum told ESPN that the fight “will never, ever happen” because Mayweather was scared of Manny’s right hand. Pac-Man’s camp is reportedly upset with Mayweather over the timing of the announcement, nine days before Pacquiao squares off against Juan Manual Marquez for the third time.
While we’re still months away from anything official expect the rhetoric to ramp up if Pacquiao stops his relentless Mexican foe on November 12th. While the Filipino is heavily favored (a quick online search shows him a -750 favorite to win) Marquez has been one of his toughest foes over the last eight years. While he should win, Manny can’t expect it to be a cake walk like the Shane Mosley fight was.
Assuming he does get through, boxing fans haven’t been this close to seeing the two best fighters in the world square off since late 2009, before their March 2010 fight was derailed over disagreements stemming from Pacquiao’s refusal to agree to Olympic-style blood testing. The disagreement turned ugly enough that earlier this year Pacquiao hit his foe with a defamation lawsuit, adding to the undefeated champions lengthening list of legal problems.
It’s sad that the March 2010 fight was cancelled, because it would have been the perfect time for the two to meet. Pacquiao was at the height of his new found fame coming off his brutal destruction of Oscar De La Hoya and Mayweather had returned from his self-imposed retirement with a dominant victory over Marquez.
Since then, despite their continued success in the ring (both fighters have easily won two fights since then), outside distractions have mounted for both fighters. Mayweather’s legal problems which include a misdemeanor battery charge against a security guard and felony charges revolving around a domestic dispute with an ex-girlfriend. Oh, and there is the harassment charge where he was found not guilty of threatening some OTHER security guards. Meanwhile Pacquiao campaigned and won a spot in the Philippine government. He’s also released a CD, put on a few concerts and crooned some tunes on late night TV. As much as either fighter will protest, those types of activities can affect their training which, in turn, can affect their fighting.
Lets face it, both fighters are two years older as well. Mayweather, at 34, is entering that age where speed starts to abandon fighters just a notch. For him, a master of escapability in the ring, to lose even a fraction of his hand or foot speed could prove disastrous against a fighter of Pacquiao’s strength.
Pac-Man, two years younger, might not be as old, but has definitely been punished more throughout his career. Even though he dominated Antonio Margarito in their 2010 match-up (the most lopsided boxing match I‘ve ever watched), he took a lot of solid punches to the face. His straight-forward, action-loving style endears him to fans, but it also leads to a lot of shots to the head. No matter who the fighter is, that kind of punishment eventually catches up with them.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, has on more than one occasion stated that he doesn’t want to see his golden boy fight past 2013. The fighter himself as acknowledged that he is pondering retirement to focus more on his political career. Mayweather has already retired once and despite his legal woes, he should be set financially. With neither fighter seemingly wanting to fight into their 40’s the window for this fight (and a probable re-match) is closing rapidly.
Despite all of this, I really, really want to see this fight. Hell, I’d plan a weekend out of it. Thursday morning Darren Rovell pondered on Twitter how much the Pay Per View would cost to watch and said that he’d fork over $79.99 for it (in HD I assume). He probably isn’t far off on that estimation. It would undoubtedly be the highest grossing fight of all time.
Per ESPN, the biggest non-heavyweight boxing PPV in terms of buys and revenue was Mayweather’s match with Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. That fight brought in an estimated 2.45 million buys and almost $137 million in revenue. If Mayweather and Pacquiao finally agree to fight (Arum says his fighter is willing to agree to Olympic drug testing “without any conditions”) I wouldn’t be surprised to see this fight push 3 million buys.
|Hey Floyd, spread the love!|
Both fighters appeal to non-boxing fans. Heck, even the Duchess watched Pac-Man take down Margarito. There is a natural storyline built in with Pacquiao as the hardworking, outgoing hero and Floyd as the charismatic villain. Sports Illustrated did an excellent job profiling Mayweather before his fight with Victor Ortiz, detailing some of the more outrageous acts portrayed by “Money Mayweather”.
Without a dominant American heavyweight fighting these days, this fight would be boxing’s best chance of reclaiming some of the fans that they’ve lost to MMA over the last decade. Both of these fighters have legitmate claims to the pound-for-pound title. Not only that, but they are the marquee fighters in a weight class that has its share of decent boxers. Despite his meltdown against Mayweather, Ortiz isn’t a bad boxer, neither is Amir Khan or Tim Bradley.
The welterweight and light welterweight classes have become the focal point of boxing over the last decade as the boxers have increased their speed and power on the whole leading to some pretty damn good matches. To have their two best wage war would be a glorious opportunity for a sagging industry.
Time will tell if this nothing more than a boxer hyping a fight he never plans on fighting. Hundreds of things can still go wrong, from the choice of venue to the split of the money to the color of the gloves. However, it would probably be one of the biggest sports disappointments in out generation should these two not meet. But, hey, at least Floyd didn’t promise his next bout to be a “game changer”.