The questions, should we be so fortunate, will be answered May 2. And that, most all the hardcore boxing fans say, because we’ve waited, sometimes impatiently as talks heated up and faltered, is something to rejoice.
Who is the pound for pound top dog? Has Floyd Mayweather lost a step, or two, and can Pacman capitalize, or is his power reservoir depleted?
Here are ten pressing question for you to ponder as we tick down these finals days before boxing’s Super Bowl, circa 2015, compliments of KO Digest editor Jeffrey Freeman.
1. Will the fight actually happen on May 2nd as scheduled?
While it seems preposterous to ponder the possibility of boxing’s biggest ever money grab going the way of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao in 2009, all signs point to it finally happening—at last. The contracts are signed. The tickets are sold. The pay-per-view price has been announced. Fight Week has kicked off in Las Vegas for Superfight 2015. But still, not everyone is convinced and cynical skeptics are taking a wait and see approach. As evidenced on Pacquiao’s aborted media conference call, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is at his wit’s end. There is a palpable tension now. Perhaps the lack of press tour promotion was just what “Doctor Moonves” ordered in order to prevent somebody involved from poisoning the well and bringing down the whole fight along the way. Many of these people don’t like or particularly respect each other and it’s been amusing watching them try to pretend otherwise for the sake of a punching payoff. Yes, the fight will happen on May 2nd and that’s the scoop, so pay up Malinowski.
2. What’s at stake between the two combatants?
The huge money involved in the “biggest fight of all time” is all but guaranteed. A 60/40 split in favor of Mayweather should leave “Money May” with at least $120 million dollars and Pacquiao with approximately $80 million dollars. There will of course be other economic residuals and to the boxing insider, it will feel like the sport itself is being cashed out, its fans fleeced for all they’re worth. What’s not guaranteed is what’s truly at stake and that’s what all the fighting is really about: The undisputed welterweight championship of the world, the top spot on any reputable pound-for-pound list, status as this generation’s very best prizefighter, and the enduring legacy that comes with being the winner of the once endless Mayweather vs. Pacquiao saga. Barring a draw or some other unforeseen event that muddles resolution, boxing’s elite scorecard will become crystal clear for the first time in a very long time. When the best fights the best, the loser is second best. The winner is THE best. That’s how it works and that’s what’s at stake.
3. Why did it take so long to get the fight made?
Big egos and bad attitudes. Both participants are “A-side” boxing superstars but Floyd Mayweather is, many say, an egomaniac who likes to humiliate and belittle his opponents. The prideful Pacquiao is not a man who easily abides being humiliated or belittled. For quite some time, it was true that as much as both men needed each other to get to where we all are today, they were both quite willing to go their separate ways against other opponents for lesser, though still lucrative, paydays. That cycle went on for as long as it could until Pacquiao got knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 and Mayweather ran out of economically credible opponents in 2014 after back to back fights against Marcos Maidana. With just the right amount of vulnerability showing between them and with fans willing to show Mayweather and Pacquiao the money for finally trading punches, the time is now right for all involved.
4. Would the result have been different 5 years ago?
Both boxers were younger and better in circa 2009/2010 so it’s hard to imagine that things wouldn’t have been of a higher quality in the ring but what we’re left with in 2015 is still very special. Mayweather is the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in all of boxing and a reigning two division world champion at welterweight and junior middleweight. Pacquiao is still an icon of the sport, a “fighter of the decade” award winner, and one of pugilism’s very best practitioners. While a controversial “loss” to Tim Bradley and a crushing knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez have somewhat diminished his status, Pacquiao is still seen by most as the perfect foil for Mayweather and the one guy Floyd must finally fight (and defeat) before calling himself “the best ever” with a straight face.
5. Will the fight live up to the hype?
It won’t be easy but it is possible. It’s no secret that Mayweather is a defensive boxer who looks to minimize contact and do just enough punching to win boxing matches. Mayweather will not expose himself to a firefight if it’s not absolutely necessary and the onus is on Pacquiao to make it absolutely necessary. There is just so much at stake between these two personally and there are only 36 possible minutes of fight time for both to make their greatest statements. If somehow a fight breaks out early like it did 30 years ago in Las Vegas when Marvin Hagler battled Thomas Hearns for his ultimate place in boxing history, the tale of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao could be brutally beautiful indeed. The skill and talent required for such a perfect storm will all be in the ring on May 2nd. If the fighters feel the moment and simultaneously seize it, then yes, expectations could not only be met, but exceeded.
6. If he wins, where does Manny Pacquiao go from here?
Depending on how he wins, a rematch with Mayweather would be most likely. Most experts are expecting a close fight that goes to the judges and in such a case, fans and media will almost surely be divided on who they think the real winner was. All this interest and attention (in boxing we call it controversy) will drive an immediate rematch to settle the score once and for all so to speak. If Pacquiao dominates or knocks out Mayweather, a rematch could become much less likely, particularly if as George Foreman warns, the defeat “devastates” Mayweather as a fighter. Pacquiao has already been through a devastating knockout loss and came back from it to secure his place in the biggest fight in boxing history. It remains to be seen what a bad loss would do to Mayweather’s psyche. If Pacquiao leaves Mayweather unavailable to dance again in September or ever, Manny could be looking at a fifth fight with long-time rival Juan Manuel Marquez or even a third tussle with Tim Bradley to make it another Top Rank trilogy.
7. If he wins, where does Floyd Mayweather go from here?
Again, much would depend on how he wins. If Mayweather is dominant or scores an embarrassing knockout of Pacquiao, a rematch would be far-fetched despite the copious paydays again involved. From Mayweather’s perspective, such a win would prove his point that he was always better than Pacquiao and that having to prove it in the ring was a nagging insult to his greatness. You think he’ll be willing to do it again? No chance. If however Mayweather struggles to win or receives an unpopular decision, the door swings right open for a rematch. In the event that Mayweather makes moot the point of a Manny rematch, look for Floyd to seek a second bout with Miguel Cotto at some ridiculous catchweight for Cotto’s WBC and linear middleweight titles. In most cases, all roads for Mayweather and Pacquiao lead right back to Mayweather and Pacquiao but this is boxing, the theater of the unexpected.
8. Who will win?
Here’s the inside scoop, so remember where you heard it first. The “smart money” in Las Vegas is on the draw result but I’m picking a winner here and that’s going to be Manny Pacquiao. How will he do it where nobody else has been able to pull it off? By being all over Floyd Mayweather from the opening bell and by forcing “Money May” into a perpetual state of discomfort on the ropes and in the corners. This should still be a close and competitive struggle for legacy but an off-balance knockdown scored by Pacquiao against Mayweather will make a critical difference on the judge’s scorecards. If either fighter is to get stopped or knocked out, it will be Mayweather but Floyd has a great chin and Manny wins more on speedy volume and angles now than on power punching and pure killer instinct. The win goes to the fighter who most wants to be in the ring on May 2nd and that is demonstrably Pacquiao.
9. Will there be a rematch?
You better believe it. Too much money is at stake for this not to happen again in September or next May. And after Mayweather tastes defeat for the first time as a professional, he will be itching to get Pacquiao back into the ring to prove his superiority and secure his legacy.
10. What is boxing’s next Mayweather vs. Pacquiao delayed superfight situation?
The promotional acrimony is already well under way. And as always, boxing fans just want to see the fight in question to find out who really is the best light heavyweight in the world. It’s a match-up of pure power punchers and one side of the equation is considered to have been “ducking” the fight while the other side has been accused of using race and vulgarity to bring it to fruition. Main Events promoter Kathy Duva is in one corner with her sometimes boorish charge Sergey Kovalev and boxing adviser Al Haymon is in the other with his avoidant champion Adonis Stevenson. Like Mayweather-Pacquiao, there are also cable network issues standing in the way with Stevenson now attached to Showtime and Kovalev signed with rival HBO. Also like Mayweather-Pacquiao, the feeling is that neither fighter particularly cares for the other and that their respective “powers that be” are gladly letting this one marinate deliberately to make it as big as it possibly can be before it finally gets made. With some notable exceptions, such as Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Aaron Pryor in the 1980’s and Mike Tyson vs. George Foreman in the 1990’s, almost all of boxing’s biggest fights eventually happen and “Superman vs. The Krusher” will too, but just not a moment too soon.