While boxing has struggled over the last decade, the stars have been aligned now for the sport to explode into a new golden era. It all hinges on making Pacquiao vs. Mayweather which has media, fans, even other boxers and the sports powerbrokers thrilled just thinking about it.
It’s a classic matchup of clashing personalities and styles, two supreme champions at the height and peak of their astounding powers.
I have heard credible journalists suggest the fight could draw between three and four million pay-per-view buys and could become the biggest money-making event in the history of boxing. I have read headlines calling it the ultimate hero vs. villain conflict.
Heck, I was even in a grocery store on a recent Sunday afternoon (Nov. 22) after playing tennis, when I overheard a random conversation between two workers. ‘Cotto will beat Pacquiao right?” one young worker asked his mate. It was almost startling to hear people talking about boxing like that, as the sport has supposedly dimmed into the background of the public conscious. “No, Cotto lost to Pacquiao, you mean Pacquiao and Mayweather,” corrected the more knowledgable Shop Rite employee.
I kept on walking to the dairy aisle, semi-stunned toi actually walk by and hear two strangers talking about boxing. It rarely happens these days, at least in my travels outside the boxing realm. But then after considering the uniqueness of the coincidence, I decided to go back to talk with the worker, and see if there could be some sort of an angle, to capture an essence of the magnitude of this fight.
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao could be the sporting event of the year 2010. Everyone will be there or at least watching – Derek Jeter, Morgan Freeman, Diddy, Brad Pitt, J-Lo, Jack Nicholson, John McEnroe, Dustin Hoffman, Shaq, etc.
But this fight could be more than that, if they market and promote it to the hilt. Pac-Man vs. Money May could be more exciting, more buzzed about than the Super Bowl, World Cup, Olympics, any sporting event you can think of. This could be the event of the decade, something that captivates the world, like Ali vs. Foreman, Ali vs. Frazier, like Mike Tyson in his wrecking machine heyday. It’s the electrifying humble champ Pac-Man against the talented cocky punk Floyd. It could be huger than huge. People are already talking about it and demanding it. “We want Floyd!” shouted the crowd after Pac destroyed Cotto.
But it could all go down the drain if boxing and HBO let the strangely negative and disinterested Mayweather price himself out of the fight with his ridiculous demands of the lion’s share of the purse when Pacquiao drew a larger live gate, more PPV buys, earned more money (reported to be over $20 million compared to Floyd’s reported $15 million) and was far more sensationally exciting in his last fight with Cotto than was Mayweather in his last performance vs. Marquez.
I went back and found the boxing fan/worker at Shop Rite. His name is Walter Perez. He says he wants to see the fight too, but wonders if it will happen. “Floyd doens’t want to fight Pacquiao,” says Perez who looked to be in his early 20s. “I think he’s afraid. I think he picks his fights. Pacquiao fights the best. Mayweather is fast. He likes to walk around the ring and do his thing. But Pacquiao will be all over him.”
It’s the event the world wants to see and is demanding it to be made. But negotiations do not seem very promising based on the hardline stance from the Mayweather side.
Will boxing and will HBO be able to coordinate and produce what could be the biggest event in the history of the sport?
If they fail, it will be a tragic sign that our great sport is in the hands of impotent fools and bumblers – and the hopes that boxing can one day could regain it’s former mighty status as part of culture, are mere pipe dreams.