For the Love of the Sport: Pacquiao vs. Mayweather
By: William Holmes
It is important as a writer to try your best to keep your opinions unbiased, and to remain as objective as possible. Despite this, it is difficult to not have your personal history influence the way you view the world.
My mother was born in the Philippines, and met my father during the Vietnam War. Romance ensued and they had four children. I was the youngest, and was named after my Irish immigrant great-grandfather on my father’s side, who happened to be an avid boxing fan. I grew up watching boxing on PPV, professional wrestling, and the UFC. It was because of my love for one on one combat sports that I decided to take up wrestling in high school. In college I bartended at a sports bar, and worked during practically every boxing or mixed martial arts event on television. I am one of the few that covers both boxing and MMA, and one of the fewer who has a strong passion for both.
I readily admit that the best part of MMA is the striking component of the sport, and that the talent you currently see in boxing in regards to striking surpasses the talent you see in MMA.
However, boxing has a problem, and it’s starting to turn the casual fan away from the sport, and it is preventing the creation of diehard fans.
In 2011, the UFC had 15 PPV’s, and those PPV’s had an estimated total of 8,970,000 buys. The UFC just signed a contract with Fox to place events on network television, air their reality tournament live on FX, and air foreign versions of their reality tournament on the Fuel network. Their sister promotion, Strikeforce, extended their contract on Showtime and will have approximately eight events a year. Regional promotions such as Ring of Combat and Cage Fury Championships regularly sell out their events. Love it or hate it, the business of MMA is doing well.
Boxing had three major PPV’s in 2011. Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley did approximately 1.3 million buys, Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz did approximately 1.25 million buys, and Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez did approximately 1.4 million buys. However, no other boxer had a pay per view that had a significant buy rate, and it appears that no other boxer besides Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are able to sell PPV’s. HBO, Showtime, and ESPN regularly schedule boxing events on their programming and help create new stars, but when the sport is unable to match their two biggest stars that happen to be in the same weight class, it chills the creation of new passionate fans.
Boxing, however, appears to be headed towards having more exposure of the sport on television for the casual fan. The NBC Sports Network, formerly known as Versus, will be working with Main Events to put on quality fights on Saturday nights. Spike Television, the former home of the UFC, is currently in negotiations with Top Rank Promotions to have a weekly boxing program. Spike did wonders with the UFC to increase their exposure, and will likely help do the same with boxing.
With HBO, Showtime, and ESPN continuing to show boxing, and with Spike TV and the NBC Sports Network having plans to show boxing in 2012, the timing is perfect to make the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight. If the fight is made the buildup will be tremendous, the excitement palpable, and the spillover effect to other boxers, promotions, the sport of boxing in general will be measureable. A mega fight such as this will do nothing but help grow the fan base of the sport.
Representatives for both Pacquiao and Mayweather have tried several times over the years to make this fight, and they have done nothing but disappoint their fans. They have argued over everything; including blood testing, purse split, venue location, and date of the fight. They both claim to want to do this fight for the fans, and for the sport they love, yet after each failed negotiation the fans hear nothing but b.s. and lies as to why the fight can’t be made.
The UFC has enjoyed a slow and steady increase in their fan base since it’s been under the control of Zuffa. More importantly, the UFC has been able to hold on to their core group of fans who regularly buy their PPV offerings. While there are many reasons for this, one of the main reasons is the UFC’s ability to match the best against the best in any given weight class.
Boxing needs to do the same. Imagine the NFL without the Super Bowl, MLB without the World Series, the NHL without the Stanley Cup; would those respective sports be able to retain and attract fans without an event to determine the best? For the past few years boxing has been unable to do so, and it is only hurting the sport.
Mayweather recently tweeted and called out Manny Pacquiao. Manny Pacquiao recently responded through the Filipino press and said he wants the fight with Mayweather. If you both obviously want it, then make it happen. If your representatives are unable to put the fight together that you desire, perhaps it is time to get new representatives. The public grows tired of the excuses.
I am passionate about and love the sport of boxing. Obviously, based on my history, I would have a rooting interest for Pacquiao. Objectively, I admit, Mayweather should be favored. Rationally, I can’t see why this fight hasn’t been made.
Make this fight happen now, for the love of the sport, and while the iron is hot.