Five things you need to know about Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Manny Pacquiao, and the biggest fight in two decades.
Written by Kyle Magin
You’ve probably heard about the Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight this weekend. Maybe you even plan to pay money to watch it. Maybe you plan to mooch off someone who is buying it. In these cases, you’ll want to speak knowledgeably about the fight and fighter with whomever you’ll enjoy the bout with: Your significant other, your friends, a Filipino man at your local casino with a tenuous grasp on English, your grandfather with a tenuous grasp on reality.
Let us get you ready for the big fight with a few handy lists.
- The first of the fight’s three televised cards will take place beginning at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST Saturday. The undercard is criminally devoid of talent fitting the main event. Vasyl Lomachenko will defend his featherweight title against Gamalier Rodriguez in the bout immediately preceding the main event—it has a good chance of going the 12-round distance so everyone can get good and hammered before MayPac. Start monitoring it around 10:30 p.m. if you’re out East. I fully expect the main event won’t begin until after 11 p.m.
- Location is not one of this fight’s flaws. Hosted at the MGM Grand’s Garden Arena in Las Vegas, fight night is back where it belongs. Title bouts in Macau or Brooklyn just don’t have the Liberace-shades-furs-and-rings-on-every-finger glamour that Vegas provides. Star power from all over the world will descend on Sin City for the fight. Ringside seating will look like courtside at Lakers’ games, the front row at NYC’s fashion week, the royal courts at the world’s various Emiratis and the ESPYs combined. Throw in all the stars Showtime and HBO will be pimping and you’ll have a good idea of exactly what the 1 percent looks like.
- A lot of the purse is pre-determined. Mayweather is likely to make $180 million to Pacquiao’s $100 million. Those numbers could go up depending on how many people buy the bout on pay-per-view
- …and you’re going to be providing a lot of that money no matter how you watch it.
- This isn’t the fight it could’ve been 5 years ago, when the two took their first shot at negotiations. Mayweather is 38 and Pacquiao is 36, though the latter has significantly less tread on the tires because he tends to fight very aggressively. Pacquiao lost a pair of fights in that timeframe (including a vicious knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez) and Mayweather struggled with Argentinian Marcos Maidana last year, earning a split decision in the first of two showdowns with him last year that many outsiders claim he lost. That said, Pacquiao is still willing to go toe-to-toe with anyone and Mayweather’s gifts as a ring general are growing even as his physical skills fade.
- This is not the most important piece of information about Mayweather, but it’s the most important for me to dispel: Mayweather isn’t knocking anyone out Saturday, least of all Manny Pacquiao. I just really can’t be clearer on this ludicrous notion that Floyd partisans who obviously don’t watch boxing keep spouting. Mayweather hasn’t legitimately knocked someone out in 7 years. He’s a defense-first fighter who concentrates on winning on judges’ scorecards by following his opponent’s punches with a flurry of his own before retreating. He does not care if they do damage, only if they are seen to land. Mayweather no longer throws the kind of body shots that lead to knockouts—the hooks and uppercuts to vital interior organs—because they open him up to too much damage. He doesn’t generate enough power any more to land head and face shots that really hurt. 14 of his last 20 fights have gone all 12 rounds to the judges’ decision, including his last five straight. If anyone gets knocked out Saturday (doubtful), it’ll be Mayweather.
- The welterweight title fight will be contested at 147 pounds, which has more-or-less been Mayweather’s sweet spot since growing into the division about 12 years ago. The tactician—a boxer in the purest sense—hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has in his corner a wealth of experience in his father, Floyd Sr., and trainer/uncle Roger Mayweather. His pedigree extends beyond genetics: Mayweather won an Olympic bronze medal in 1996 in Atlanta and before that he dominated amateur competition. Olympic boxing is the perfect breeding ground for someone of Mayweather’s singularly unique speed and quickness: fights are scored and won solely on punches landed. Due to the required headgear and short rounds, power is severely subjugated and quickness, defense and skill are prized. He’s essentially been refining the same style in the 19 years since Atlanta.
- Floyd goes by the nicknames ‘Money,’ ‘TBE (The Best Ever)’ and early in his career ‘Pretty Boy.’ He’s loud about his cash and his supposed place in boxing history. He’s great but cherry-picked a lot of his fights against the best in his era to gain an advantage.
- Mayweather and Nevada love each other. Lesser boxers earn suspensions for being caught with a little recreational pot by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the state’s governing body for fights. Mayweather once had a stretch in prison for viciously beating the mother of his children in front of them delayed so he could fight in Vegas. When close fights go to the judges like they did last year against Maidana—fights Floyd may be losing—the scorecards always come back to announce a Mayweather victory. You can probably bet that the state will do its part to make Mayweather 48-0 Saturday.
- Mayweather is a serial woman beater. He claimed a woman he allegedly impregnated aborted their twins by posting ultrasound pictures on Facebook. He’s a known supporter of Justin Bieber and owns 100 cars. You should probably root against him.
- Manny Pacquiao has been fighting at welterweight for just six years after a mindblowing ascent from 112 pounds (flyweight) 15 years ago. He’s won championships at every stop along the way and couldn’t have experienced a more different come-up than Mayweather. Whereas Mayweather’s career received the careful coddling befitting his status as the heir to boxing royalty, Pacquiao rose from the hardscrabble streets of the Philippines. His first official professional fight took place when he was 16, but reports have him fighting for, literally, a few dollars, as early as the age of 14. There was no cultivated rise through the amateur ranks—Pacquiao began his career without headgear in smoky arenas both indoor and outdoor throughout the island nation. You can see it in his style—Pacquiao will attempt to land the big hook or cross despite the risk of opening himself up to attack. He can be baited into the center of the ring to trade blows because one doesn’t make lunch money dancing and ducking. The result is a body that’s significantly more worn than Mayweather’s.
- Pacquiao experienced his own personal problems, though nothing on the level of Mayweather’s. He’s a philanderer and drinker who loves the spotlight as much as his counterpart and engages in the shady politics of the Philippines as a congressman.
- The Pac-Man has a taste for Yankee blood—he’s 6-1 against Americans with his one loss being a very, very controversial decision to Timothy Bradley. He doesn’t knock people out like he used to—his last signature KO was against Ricky Hatton in 2009—but he still retains the power to hurt his opponents and wobble their knees. If anyone is knocking anyone else out in this fight (again, unlikely), it’ll be Pacquiao putting Mayweather down.
- Pacquiao is, tenuously, the most popular person in America today who is linked to the OG Kennedys. His promoter, the long-in-the-tooth Bob Arum, was a young lawyer in Robert Kennedy’s bare-knuckle Justice Department. The skills that served him while pursuing tax cheats in New York City have been indespensible in a 50-plus year boxing career promoting the likes of Muhammad Ali and Marvin Hagler. If not for Don King, Arum would be the most repulsive asshole in promotions, and he almost killed this fight due to blood feud with Mayweather.
- Pacquiao’s trainer is the esteemed Freddie Roach, a genius suffering from Parkinson’s. Every fight we get from Roach is a gift. He’s trained 27 world champions and can reign in both bad ring habits and bad life habits in his fighters, at least during training.