When, on February 20, it was confirmed that Manny Pacquiao would fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr. the sporting world had a minor breakdown. Rooms for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where the fight would be taking place, sold out within three minutes of the announcement as fans desperately tried to book their places at what is set to be a piece of boxing history.
For many, the fight is a long time coming. Arguably two of the greatest boxers of their generation, talks of a contest between Pacquiao and Mayweather have been circulating since 2009.
However, continued disputes between the two camps have seen delays, empty promises and ultimately disappointment; that is until now.
Regularly ranked as the number one pound-for-pound boxer in the world, the enigmatic, occasionally cocky, always over-the-top Mayweather boasts a perfect record of forty-seven wins and zero defeats. In a career that has spanned nearly twenty years, the American has racked up ten world titles at five different weight divisions, helping cement his place in the pantheon of the greats.
With nicknames including “Money” and “Pretty Boy” however, the American is in total contrast to the more humble Pacquiao. A modest man away from the ring, the Filipino was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives and coaches his own basketball team.
Not bad for a man who can put his name to ten world titles and claim to be the only man to ever win titles across eight different weight classes.
Despite this, Pacquiao has tasted defeat on five separate occasions, whilst also giving away two years to his younger opponent.
On the other hand, he has been victorious fifty-eight times and will be highly motivated to claim the biggest scalp of his career to date. Whatever way you look at it, there is very little to separate the two.
Mayweather deservedly goes into the fight as favourite. Recent years have seen Pacquiao’s aura damaged somewhat and there remains a question of whether Mayweather only agreed to the match now when his rival was further from his prime.
Understandably then, the match is already being billed as the ‘Fight of the Century’ and that tagline is fully justified.
With tickets starting at roughly $3,500 and reaching upwards of $250,000, Mayweather vs Pacquiao is set to break all commercial records for a bout, but is that really what people want this fight to be about?
Not too long ago, boxing was a sport for everyone. It dominated the back pages of papers and was the only topic on the lips of colleagues the next day.
But with an increased move to pay-per-view subscriptions for the biggest bouts, boxing has turned into a highly exclusive sport. To view Pacquiao take on Mayweather live on television is expected to cost roughly £60; all this for an event that could well be over in a matter of minutes.
It’s a real commitment and one that many will make, but also one that many will not. Mayweather, Jr. vs Pacquiao will undoubtedly be the richest fight ever to be staged but for most it will have to be read about the next day and that is a sucker punch if ever I heard one.
One only hopes that the same fate doesn’t befall football, or other sports, where large cash injections have been welcomed with open arms.
On May 2 the sporting world will hold its breath when the ‘Fight of the Century’ finally arrives.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have a lot of hype to live up to, but these are two men who are more than capable of delivering a knockout.