IT IS bound to be the richest fight in boxing history. Repeat: in boxing history. And a Filipino boxer is in it.
American Floyd Mayweather Jr., currently world boxing’s pound-for-pound king, has finally signed the contract to fight Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. It’s a fight that is six years in the making, with negotiations breaking down a number of times for various reasons, although I would say the bigger reason is the American boxer’s obvious hesitance to fight Pacquiao.
The fight is set for May 2 (May 3 in the Philippines) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mayweather is the A side, getting 60 percent of the revenue to Pacquiao’s 40 percent in a bout that, according to espn.com could gross $400 million. Imagine: the pay-per-view telecast for the bout is expected to cost “a record high” $89.95.
Consider that when Pacquiao fought American Chris Algieri in November last year, HBO pegged the pay-per-view price at $59.99. That was translated by Sky Cable, our cable provider, to P999. Imagine how much Sky will collect from subscribers with the Mayweather-Pacquiao pay-per-view tag of $89.95.
The two boxers will also get the biggest purse of their boxing careers, with Mayweather getting a minimum of $150 million and Pacquiao a minimum of $100 million.
When Pacquiao fought Algieri, his guaranteed purse was $25 million. When Mayweather fought Marcos Maidana for the second time, his guaranteed purse was P32 million. Pay-per-view shares are not included in the count.
Aside from the bout being the richest, it is also the most anticipated in years. I agree with boxing trainer and analyst Teddy Atlas, who contradicted the claims that this fight will save boxing, which some sectors claim is on the doldrums and suffering from the competition provided by mixed martial arts. Boxing has been there before Pacquiao and Mayweather and it will be there after they have retired. But the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will provide the buzz for boxing not heard of in the past few decades.
Even boxing greats like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and many others have expressed their desire to see the bout, after all, Mayweather and Pacquiao are the two best boxers pound-for-pound of this generation. Also, both boxers are popular even to those who are not boxing fanatics.
As a boxing fan all my life, I never expected to see the day when a Filipino boxer would become so dominant in the sport he would be included in the elite group of all-time greats. I grew up when Gabriel “Flash” Elorde was no longer around. I would idolize the likes of Luisito Espinoza but their reigns as boxing champions were short and ordinary.
That’s why when Pacquiao began his dominant run in international boxing, starting from his fight with South African Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, I was hooked. There was even a time when I excused myself from taking care of my wife in the hospital after she gave birth to our second child just so I could watch Paquiao’s bout in a restaurant located near the said medical facility.
Pacquiao has suffered the usual ups and downs of boxers even as he expanded his concerns to politics, religion and lately to basketball. He lengthened the period of dominance by straightening his life and cleaning up his act. This has made him truly unique among the country’s sports icons.
His fight with Mayweather this May will cap his illustrious career. Win or lose, he has already brought himself and the country to an unprecedented level in international sports.