It took five years, but the most-yearned-for fight by both boxing fans and casual fight fans is finally happening. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are scheduled to fight on May 2 in the highest-grossing boxing match known to man.
After Pacquiao stopped Miguel Cotto back in 2009, boxing pundits and fans called for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, but after intense negotiations and back-and-forth banter, both sides walked away. Now, at their respective ages of 38 and 36, the fight seems as satisfying as ever.
Steve Kim, writer for Undisputed Champion Network, has been following this fight since it originally began brewing late in 2009, but he has always been a skeptic.
It wasn’t until about two weeks ago that Kim got word from other skeptics in the boxing industry that the fight was really close — closer than it had ever been before.
“Manny has rebuilt his career after the knockout to Marquez,” said Kim. “But I believe the thought process is number one, there may not be another suitable opponent that makes economic sense and number two, if Manny loses again, then the fight completely loses value.”
With so much money on the line, both sides came to an agreement and Mayweather announced the fight on social media on Feb. 20.
According to the Economist, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is projected to gross $400 million and Mayweather is speculated to earn $120 million, according to Kim.
“Given the fact the pay-per-view is going to be around $100 and if they do $3 million buys, which some people are projecting, that’s $150 million for the promotion,” said Kim. “The other half goes to the satellite and cable operators, you have the site fee from the MGM grand, you have sponsorship, you have closed circuit, you have the foreign [market]. The numbers do seem to add up here.”
The last time a fight of this magnitude generated this much interest amongst the public was Mayweather vs Oscar De La Hoya, the fight billed by “Sports Illustrated” as “The Fight To Save Boxing,” but time and time again, these mega fights always fail to live up to expectations.
When Mayweather fights, fans should know that they’re purchasing pay-per-view fights that are often filled with hit and not-get-hit tactics, also known as “tag” in the boxing world, said Kim. “I use these two words repeatedly: buyer beware.”
If people are looking for an entertaining fight, they should look elsewhere. On March 18, junior welterweights Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse will battle for an almost certain fight-of-the-year candidate. On May 9, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will take on James Kirkland in what also has fight of the year written all over it.
And this writer isn’t the only one with those sentiments. Kim also agrees.
“If you said to me, ‘Steve you could have a ringside ticket with everything else being equal would you rather be at Mayweather-Pacquiao or Provodnikov-Matthysse,’ I am going with the latter,” said Kim. “And honestly, it’s not even a hard choice for me, but I am a purist. I am a hardcore fan. The general casual audience, they don’t even know who [Provodnikov or Matthysse are].”
Many believe that boxing is a dead sport, but huge-grossing events exactly like this fight prove otherwise. As of now, boxing is no longer a sport that is broadcasted on prime-time television, though that is changing in the near future with boxing programs scheduled to be shown regularly on CBS, NBC, NBC Sports Network and Spike TV.
Kim said a possible reason to the decline of boxing amongst the general public may be due to the fact that fans are shut out from buying tickets to fights or are not allowed the chance to attend a live event due to proximity.
“One of the more amusing things I hear is that Mayweather and Pacquiao are doing it for the fans, [but] literally not one ticket will be available at face value to the actual fans,” said Kim. “If you go on the ticket broker sites, a lot of these tickets are on consignment, but they are projected price. The cheapest seats are going for $5,000. That alone tells you what stratosphere economically this fight is in.”
Kim said obtaining tickets for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao might be more difficult than finding Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.
“This is where boxing is backwards,” said Kim. “We’re literally the only sport that places our biggest events on the smallest platforms. Whether that be on pay-per-view or in a casino where no one can get tickets except the guys playing $10,000 hands of blackjack.”
But boxing is ultimately entertainment, and if two guys aren’t in the square trying to knock each other’s heads off, the fight is ultimately pointless.
“I want guys who are going to stick their nose into a pile and really give a show and this is the entertainment business,” said Kim. “Some people prefer slick boxers that never get hit or really take chances. I’m not really a huge fan of that.”
According to Las Vegas bookmakers, Mayweather is a 2-1 favorite over Pacquiao, but if you are a Pacquiao fan, there should not be too much cause for concern. Kim believes the southpaw style will cause Mayweather problems.
“I think Manny’s a live dog. I really do. I might be the only one,” said Kim. “Maybe I’m thinking more with my heart than my head, but I think that Manny gives Floyd a lot of problems with that southpaw style and the fact that he has good legs. Do I pull the trigger? I don’t know. I don’t really want to make a prediction yet.”