This fight has been obvious since 2009, or since Pacquiao retired Oscar De La Hoya, the year after Mayweather edged De La Hoya. For many years it was stalled by an impasse between Top Rank (which promoted Pacquiao) and Golden Boy (which has handled promotion in Mayweather’s recent fights).
Since Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer left the company in a dispute with De La Hoya, Golden Boy’s owner, the problem is Top Rank vs. Al Haymon, manager of Mayweather and, it seems, most of today’s fighters.
It’s also a confrontation between HBO (Pacquiao) and Showtime (Mayweather). You might recall that a Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis never was supposed to happen either, and then Showtime and HBO came together to show the fight simultaneously.
The unbeaten Mayweather has two fights left on a six-fight deal with Showtime. He is no longer cracking 1 million pay-per-views, with his 2014 fights against Marcos Maidana. He and Canelo Alvarez lured 2.2 million, but now Alvarez is an HBO fighter, and that fight wasn’t terribly competitive anyway.
Pacquiao has been extremely sharp in his past three victories, knocking down Chris Algieri six times Saturday night. Top Rank chief Bob Arum has always been optimistic about the Big One, but now Pacquiao is calling out Mayweather, too.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, is already studying Mayweather videotapes. He was De La Hoya’s trainer in a close loss to Mayweather in 2007.
Arum has said that the fight could gross $200 million. Mayweather is projected to make $80 million from it. That alone would get Mayweather into the ring, you’d think.
But if Mayweather really wanted to fight Pacquiao he would have done so anytime in the past five years.
Roach has said Mayweather’s sticking point is a rematch clause, which shouldn’t be a problem for the Pacquiao camp.
Arum says the fight must happen “if we want to be considered a major sport.”
And he’s right. Can you imagine Nadal never playing Federer? Can you imagine how low the level of interest will be for any fight involving Pacquiao or Mayweather vs. Someone Else?