By Ryan Donald
Boxing fans were promised a titanic battle between two champions, one they’d been waiting a long time to see- Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally slugging it out to determine the best fighter of their generation.
What fans got was a dance off that cost $99 a head to watch.
A rumored training injury can’t have helped, but what fans really saw was two fighters that preferred facing weaker opponents and didn’t want to actually fight each other.
After that fight, Pacquiao rested up for a full year, fought one more fight, and promptly retired. Mayweather also took one more fight to match Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record and retired. These retirements seemed to end any chance of fans getting the fight they really wanted the first time.
That doesn’t stop the hype train. Pacquiao’s recent return to boxing stirred the pot, giving hope once again that they’ll give fans the fight everyone expected in 2015.
This past Saturday, Pacquiao reclaimed the welterweight title he maintained for much of his career by beating Jessie Vargas in a unanimous decision, and invited Mayweather to watch the fight ringside.
However, boxing isn’t like other sports. Most sports use an impartial third party, usually a league office, to determine the schedule. Boxing matches have always been planned by the promoters and fighters, which was the biggest obstacle to Pacquiao-Mayweather I, and will be the biggest obstacle to Pacquiao-Mayweather II.
Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, stated after Pacquiao’s fight against Vargas that he believed a rematch was likely, putting the chances of a rematch at 75%, but admitted he knew as much as the public (essentially, nothing) about whether or not Mayweather actually wanted the fight.
However, Mayweather’s primary reason for fighting has always been the money, and the last fight landed a whopping $500 million in revenue, with the fighters making well north of $100 million apiece. Most people would take that money, retire, and buy an island paradise, but a second major payday even close to that size is hard to pass up.
The chances seem better when you consider that there’s been no real bad blood this time around- verbal shots were fired in the days leading up to the first fight, making negotiation difficult.
In the end, it’s just a pipe dream. Mayweather got what he really wanted: a place in the history books next to Marciano with the best boxing record of all time. It would be surprising to see him risk it to fight Pacquiao again.