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Pacquiao vs. Mayweather: Will It Happen?

Posted last May 12, 2009, 10:59 pm in Entertainment report article

You know that a fight is turning into a gigantic event when it’s all anyone in the boxing world can talk about ... and it hasn’t even been made yet. Such is the potential and as-yet non-existent megafight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.

As it stands right now in reality, Floyd Mayweather makes his return to boxing on July 18th in a catch-weight bout against Juan Manuel Marquez. Both Bob Arum, Manny Pacquiao’s promoter, and Freddie Roach, his trainer, have said that Team Pacquiao will not wait until after the Mayweather/Marquez fight to name Pacquiao’s next opponent, ruling out Mayweather for the gig, in that there’s no way they would sign to fight Floyd ahead of the Marquez bout given the fact that he very well could lose it.

Pacquiao’s team has been adamant that they are eying Miguel Cotto as the next fighter to face Pac Man in the ring, provided that Cotto defeats Josh Clottey in their welterweight title bout on June 13th at Madison Square Garden.

So all indications are that the Pacquiao/Mayweather bout will not take place this year, and also likely will not happen at all unless Mayweather defeats Marquez -- keeping in mind that Marquez is considered by most to be at least the second best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport right now -- and Pacquiao defeats Cotto, who most certainly will be the biggest, strongest fighter that Manny has ever faced in the ring.

The potential snags to a Pacquiao/Mayweather fight don’t end there. Should both men emerge from 2009 undefeated and come to the inevitable conclusion that they should fight each other in 2010, there then would be the small matter of the check, or more, the checks, and who gets the bigger one. Pacquiao is on top of the world following his high-profile defeats of Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, and if he goes on to beat Cotto, then he truly will deserve all of the recent talk of his being one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of all time. Given that lofty stature, Arum said immediately after the Hatton fight that anyone looking to fight Pacquiao right now (and by “anyone,” I presume he means Floyd Anyone Mayweather Jr.) shouldn’t expect to get more than “30 or 35% of the split.”

If you happen to be unfamiliar with the self-esteem of Mr. Mayweather Jr. or his general attitude concerning matters of finance, allow me to understate the case considerably and inform you that these terms are not likely to sit well with him.

Throw in the fact that Floyd’s main negotiator for the bout probably would be noted manager/adviser/hustler Al Haymon, and that Arum and Haymon genuinely despise each other to the point where they can’t even stand to be in the same room together let alone sitting at the same table, and, well … it all adds up to this conclusion: With the multitude of obstacles standing in the way, it certainly would not be the most surprising thing in the world if Pacquiao/Mayweather never happened.

Tell that to Vegas, though, or boxing writers, or boxing fans, or Filipinos, or anyone even remotely interested in the sport. There hasn’t been such a mandate with the general public for a fight since De La Hoya fought Felix Trinidad in 1999 in a battle of undefeated welterweight superstars. This has turned into a similar kind of once-in-a-generation, necessary showdown, where two massive stars come to a natural point in their careers where it seems predestined by fate that they face each other in the ring. Because of the magnitude of that possibility, the fact that there are so many hindrances to it happening isn’t stopping anyone from talking and writing about it as if it’s a lock, as if it’s going down next month and the 24/7 is already on the air.

It’s contagious, this kind of speculation, and it’s an essential part of the process in these situations. Because, despite all of the legitimate reasons to say this thing won’t happen, there is one shining reason to hope that it will -- that so many people want it.

That’s no guarantee, of course. Natural showdowns with a considerable public mandate have failed to manifest themselves before. The mythical Roy Jones/Bernard Hopkins rematch comes to mind, or the Mayweather/Shane Mosley bout that’s been talked about for going on six years now.

But as big as those potential bouts might have been, their prospect never captured the general imagination in quite the way of Pacquiao/Mayweather, and the groundswell for this thing is still in its infancy. To channel the spirit of Karen Carpenter, when it comes to the demand for the Manny-and-Floyd show, we’ve only just begun.

Of course, the promoters and managers and hustlers and thieves who animate boxing’s backroom machinations care as much for the whims of the public as they do for the plight of the poor. In that dark and dreary netherworld, there is only one god. So I'll close by channeling another, infinitely less benign spirit, and point out that when one considers the amount of money a Pacquiao/Mayweather fight would be likely to generate, hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide, this could end up as one of those rare Gordon Gekko moments in history where greed turns out to be very good indeed.

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