And so, it has come to this. Floyd Mayweather Jr. asking his fans on social media to pick his May 3 opponent for him.
The favorite to win the “Money” sweepstakes is Amir Khan which, when it was first revealed a few months ago, made boxing fans want to break down and bawl a la 1997 Oliver McCall. Khan is blessed with athletic prowess, but has never shown an ability to perform at Mayweather’s level. He is mostly known for multiple losses to underdogs and a chin softer than grandma’s sofa.
Argentine tough guy Marcos Maidana is the other serious candidate which, compared to Khan, is like getting huevos con chorizo instead of lumpy oatmeal. Maidana’s December grin-removal of Adrien Broner was profoundly entertaining. His power makes him a live underdog. But he’s the longshot.
Meanwhile, Manny Pacquiao – an eight-time world champ equipped with the experience, speed and power to threaten Mayweather - has been storming the countryside of late, trying new tricks to lure his rival into a megafight that would elevate boxing to a place it hasn’t seen in some time.
There may not be another fight like Mayweather-Pacquiao in the history of boxing, featuring a pair of active, future Hall of Famers in their primes and in the same weight class, that has been discussed for so long, yet never moved past the negotiation phase. And we all know the reasons.
The crippling cold war going on between rival promoters Top Rank Boxing (Pacquiao), which is tied to HBO; and Mayweather’s affiliate, Golden Boy Promotions, which is tied to Showtime – is unprecedented in its intensity. It’s the Hatfields and McCoys of pugilism.
It’s a feud rife with PED accusations, YouTube insults, lawsuits, countersuits, and defamation rulings. This week, Top Rank boss Bob Arum ridiculously compared Mayweather to Hitler.
The nonsense doesn't appear to be ending any time soon. That’s bad news for boxing’s blue-collar fight fans.
Mayweather’s sparring sessions with Robert Guerrero and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez last year cost $59 and $75, respectively, on standard definition pay-per-view. That’s some serious cash for opponents who, beforehand, most experts agreed didn’t stand a chance. Ultimately, Guerrero and Alvarez won roughly two of 24 rounds between them. And that’s being generous.
Pacquiao, who outclassed Brandon Rios in November on a pay-per-view card that cost a whopping $59.99, will meet Timothy Bradley on April 12 in a rematch of a controversial Bradley decision win in 2012. Given Bradley’s recent resurgence and pound-for-pound status, it’s a fight that makes sense.
No such justification exists for Mayweather-Khan. And frustration will likely come in the form of buyer resistance.
Last May, Golden Boy and Showtime execs claimed Mayweather-Guerrero hit the magic million-buys mark. But it’s an assertion that comes with a heavy dose of skepticism, since the actual data is not available. The real number is believed to be closer to 800k.
Khan, with two devastating knockout losses on his resume, is considered even more hopeless than Guerrero. It’s a fight that’ll be lucky to hit 700k.
Despite the years-long back-and-forth about who is actually ducking the fight, it is Pacquiao now making the rounds, letting it be known that his “hotline is open 24 hours.”
After Mayweather beats Khan - and provided Pacquiao gets by Bradley (no given) - the clamor for the fight of the century will be back at a fever pitch. At these outrageous pay-per-view prices, Mayweather owes it to the paying public to consider the fight everyone wants to see. His legacy could well depend on it.
The ball is in his court.
Matthew Aguilar may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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