After nearly six-years, the maddening soap opera between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will consummate inside the ring on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Depending on your perspective, it’s the most important fight the sport has seen in 30 years (if not more) and clearly one of the biggest stories in all of sports.
After nearly six years of waiting, pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. and fellow welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao will finally square off in the ring. Here’s an early look at how our experts see the fight ending. Read » Vote: Your take »
Like a jaded lover protecting our heart from being hurt one more time, we’ve convinced ourselves at numerous times in recent years that we just don’t care anymore or that we’ve emotionally moved on.
But we are liars. All of us. You know it, I know it and so does the mixture of hardcore and casual fans expected to combine for more than three million pay-per-view buys come fight night.
And while on the subject of lies, allow me to expose one more. It has been exhaled with disgust each time our collective levels of optimism were piqued in recent weeks. It goes like this: Too bad the fight is about five years too late.
It’s a theory that was painfully true at various points in recent years, including most of 2013 when Pacquiao was forced to rebuild his stock after suffering consecutive defeats the previous year (including one by brutal one-punch knockout). Yet there’s an element of destiny and fate associated with this fight that has persevered through time, defeats, egos and the complications of boxing politics.
Would it have been epic, if not preferred, to have seen Mayweather and Pacquiao square off in early 2010 at the peak of their respective primes? Without question.
But that doesn’t mean that this fight will be taking place too late. In fact, if you ask me, it’s right on time.
While we had an inkling of how good Mayweather and Pacquiao were from a historical standpoint by 2009, we didn’t yet know how great. And despite how excruciating the recent years have been (not to mention the negative impact it had on the sport), both fighters have used the constant tease of the fight to reach an even higher level of global stardom.
When it comes to promoting a fight, there’s often no such thing as bad publicity. And the absurdity of this fight taking so long to happen only lends itself to shattering PPV records in an even more dramatic manner. Anyone worried about how Mayweather pushing into late February to announce the May fight will affect the promotion needs to realize the promotion for this fight actually began in 2009.
This fight represents the missing piece to the legacies of both boxers, just as much as it does to how we will remember this chapter of boxing history for years to come.
Despite their combined age of 74 come fight night, this also isn’t exclusively a money grab between two aging fighters. Yes, we may only be seeing this fight in large part because both had run out of opponents capable of drawing anything close to this much revenue. But it’s still a legitimate pairing between the top two pound-for-pound best in the sport.
That’s why merely thinking about this fight taking place brings me back to words like fate and destiny. For all intents and purposes, it shouldn’t still mean this much or have this much at stake. But almost inexplicably it does.
Boxing in general and the wallets of both fighters are lucky, in that regard. And while it would be almost impossible for the actual fight to live up to the hype that will surround this event, I have a sneaky feeling it just might.
There’s one other reason why this is as good a time as ever to see this fight: Mayweather and Pacquiao are as evenly matched, right now, as they ever have been. And sometimes throughout history, when you match a pair of aging legends who have slipped just a bit from their peak form, you get something truly special.
Even the unparalleled stubbornness of everyone involved couldn’t stop this fight from happening. And one could argue that boxing has never needed it more than it does right now.