Few sports events have generated buzz like May 2’s Fight of the Century, pitting Floyd Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao. And it will only grow more in the days and hours leading up to the fight. Below are five reasons why this prizefight could be remembered as boxing’s most spectacular battle yet.
The prize and drug testing rules were the greatest roadblocks to finalizing the lucrative bout between the 36-year-old Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) and the 38-year-old Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs). Fans, onlookers and pundits had unsuccessfully clamored for this fight for over six years. Many thought it would never happen. This fantasy match finally became a reality in the late wintertime.
2. Economic Boom
Pacquiao will pocket roughly $80 million and Mayweather will bank nearly $120 million for, at the longest, a 36-minute affair. Beyond the riches amassed by Pacquiao and Mayweather, Las Vegas will enjoy one of its most profitable betting weekends in history. Gambling industry experts estimate that the total take from betting on the fight should surpass $500 million and could reach as high as $1 billion. And let’s not forget all the money that will be spent on meals and hotel rooms.
3. This Era’s Best
Although removed from the peak of their athletic abilities, Mayweather and Pacquiao are surefire first-ballot hall of famers who remain the world’s premier pound-for pound prizefighters. Pacquiao was voted “The Fighter of the Decade” for the 2000s by the BWAA. Mayweather, The Ring “Fighter of the Year” in 1998 and 2007, wants to surpass Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 mark and retire as an unbeaten champion. On May 2, either Mayweather or Pacquiao will be roundly considered this era’s elite boxer. The other one will have to settle for second best.
4. Older is Better
As previously noted, Pacquiao and Mayweather remain the world’s topflight pound-for-pound prizefighters. Still, Pacquiao and Mayweather have both slowed since 2009. Age, not to mention the rigors of a boxing career, will do that to a fighter. Their diminished footwork and reduced hand speed could force a more toe-to-toe battle, a more exciting slugfest that wouldn’t have occurred before.
5. Boxing is the Marquee Attraction
Boxing’s struggles have been analyzed and well documented for a couple of decades. However, for the first time since Lennox Lewis knocked Mike Tyson out in June 2002, prizefighting is squarely in the spotlight. Rabid boxing enthusiasts, passive fans and curious onlookers will all watch as Pacquiao and Mayweather throw fists. Like the Super Bowl and World Series, The Fight of the Century has transcended sports to become a cultural event. Whether boxing can leverage the attention to ignite a resurgence in interest remains to be seen. But right now, all eyes seem to be focused on Las Vegas.