[This article was originally published on Jan. 20, 2015. It has been updated in light of recent events. The updated sections are indicated as such.]
Many people believe that, if Manny Pacquiao finally fights Floyd Mayweather in May, the pay-per-view revenue alone could exceed $150 million.
But, what would have been the “fight of the century” five years ago, would now be more of a money grab for two fighters passed their prime than anything else.
There have been rumors that the two great champions would fight since 2009. Every time it appears close to happening, though, something falls through. Whether the issue is money, drug testing, what weight to fight at, or just ego, both fighters have maintained their elite status – and gotten very rich – without meeting each other.
What are the odds they actually do go head-to-head in May (or ever), and what can we expect if they finally get in the ring? We take a look, below.
Odds the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight will happen (in May):
Despite lots of chatter, and even a rumor that terms had been reached, we put the odds at 1/1 that Pacquiao and Mayweather ever actually fight. Our group of cynics would put the odds lower, but the fact that so much money could be made off this fight makes it a coin-flip.
As for the proposition that the two pound-for-pound giants get it on in May, we have it at 1/2 that they won’t. We’ve heard the rumors too many times before to buy into them now. And all the latest reports are that terms have not been worked out.
Update: on Super Bowl weekend, Bob Arum (Pacquiao’s promoter) indicated a deal was all but done; come Monday, however, “all but done” became “significant hurdles”. It’s the same old dance, and our odds remain unchanged.
What terms would be attached to the fight?
It seems likely that agreeing on a welterweight bout (140-147 pounds) should be reasonably easy at this point. So weight class isn’t what’s holding things up.
Mayweather has always pushed for significant blood testing, as well. But Pacquiao hasn’t pushed back too hard against that requirement. They should be able to overcome the blood-testing issue, as well, likely by using Olympic-style testing.
Update: we originally theorized that the purse split was a potential hurdle. However, ESPN reports that both fighters are fine with a 60/40 split in Mayweather’s favor. So what is holding this thing up? It may just be the fine print, with Arum telling ESPN, “There are issues that should be solved in 10 minutes, but it’s a slow dance … We send one draft to their side and their lawyer sends back a draft with something else that’s an issue. And there doesn’t seem to be any urgency about it on their side. It’s terrible.”
Arum has long theorized that Mayweather is ducking Pacquiao and, if what he says is true (which is a huge if), that might actually be the case. Mayweather is undefeated, after all, and widely recognized as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters ever. At this point, a loss to Pacquiao may do more harm to his legacy than a win would do for it.
If they fight, what will the odds on each fighter be?
Pacquiao has won three straight fights after losing a split decision to Timothy Bradley, and getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. He’s 57-5-2 with 38 knockouts. He has won unanimous decisions against Brandon Rios, Chris Algieri, and a rematch against Bradley over the last two years. He owns the WBO Welterweight title. Pacquiao turned 36 in December.
Mayweather, who turns 38 in February, barely held on to his undefeated record in 2014. He won a majority decision against Marcos Maidana in May, and a unanimous decision in the September rematch. He has 26 career KOs, but none since 2011. Mayweather is 47-0, and holds the WBA and WBC Light Middleweight titles.
If they actually fight, Mayweather will be about 1/3 with Pacquiao around 5/2. The fight will generate an incredible amount of buzz and cash, but seems unlikely to bring boxing back to its glory days, as neither are the fighters they once were. Of course, a bout between past-their-prime versions of Mayweather and Pacquiao beats never seeing them square off.
So keep your fingers crossed, fight fans.
(Photo credit: Chamber of Fear (Flickr: Floyd Mayweather) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)