It’s the fight that the whole of boxing – and the whole of the Philippines – has been waiting for: Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It could be on for May 5 next year, but these two fighters, regarded as the best in the world, have come close so many times to meeting in the ring that few are going to believe it until they see it.
A sum of around $50 million was on offer in March 2010, but it was abandoned after disagreements over how blood tests would be performed.
The debate has been swelling once again ever since Pacquiao, the biggest sports star in the Philippines, defeated Juan Manuel Marquez last month. It wasn’t the best performance from the legendary fighter, who looked out-of-sorts before managing to defeat his opponent on points.It was close, and there were those who felt that the judges had awarded the win to the wrong man as Marquez, six years older than the champion at 38, impressed.
Reports in the boxing world suggest that the Pac-Man’s camp are beginning to realize that there’s little glory in taking on the smaller fry – he gets little credit when he wins, and there’s always the danger of a shocking loss.
Such a defeat would delay at least a potential fight against the unbeaten Mayweather, regarded as one of the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
It would be a hugely lucrative deal for both fighters.
According to Pacquiao, it’s 80 percent to 90 percent certain that it will happen.
HBO Analyst Emanuel Steward is a little less optimistic. “I would never bet on that,” Steward said. “It’s 50-50, that’s about it. It’s not so much the fighters, there’s just so many people involved. You got the promoters, a million agents, advisors; you got bad feelings between this promoter and that promoter…It’s something the public wants, but there’s too many other factors.”
One of those promoters is Bob Arum. He’s the CEO of Top Rank and promotes Pacquiao’s fights and has a long-time relationship with the fighter. Arum has been accused of blocking the fight in the past, but just last week he was on record as being uncommonly positive about the potential fight.
“I'll tell you the truth. My guy (Pacquiao) wants that fight. He really wants that fight. I want that fight. And I want it to happen next. I believe Floyd wants that fight to happen. Now how it happens, how we go about doing it, that’s a little difficult. The difference in personalities between Manny and Floyd is just tremendous.”
According to Pacquiao’s conditioning coach Alex Ariza however, Arum is not a man who can be trusted.
“Arum hates Floyd Mayweather, can’t stand him, doesn’t want to see him make a dollar, can’t stand Golden Boy (Mayweather’s promoter), doesn’t want to do business with them. But instead of doing what’s best for the sport, what’s best for the fans, and what’s best for the fighters because they’ll get the payday of a lifetime, no, it’s all about him.”
To the rest of us, it doesn’t seem all that difficult to arrange a fight between two men, but when they are the two best in the world, it seems as if the focus is as much on what can be lost as what can be won.