A Michigan native reflects on what could have been, what is and what will be for the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight and the sport of boxing.
By Kyle Magin
“I would’ve flown to Jerry World to see that fight,” is what my dad said about the long-awaited, now-scheduled Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight in Vegas on May 2, and it’s all you need to know about it.
He was speaking to the five-year-old rumor that the two were reportedly thinking of getting it on in Dallas at the home of the Cowboys. Like the original negotiations for the fight back in 2010, that idea fell apart, but boxing being on my dad’s radar at all is telling.
Despite coming from Michigan, the same state as Joe Louis, Tommy “The Hitman” Hearns and Mayweather, boxing wasn’t really a part of my sports upbringing. My dad took us to Tigers games and Lions games and minor league baseball and minor league hockey and all manner of college sports. I don’t think he’s ever bought a fight. The only time I’ve ever watched boxing with him was during the 2012 Olympics, and he looked a little bored after about three rounds. To be fair, amateur boxing is roughly as watchable as a fifth grade band concert.
But he knows and has some interest in Pacquiao-Mayweather, and that’s a win for boxing. That means the sport has the mainstream’s attention, and short of another Ford Bronco car chase, it’ll be the biggest sports story in the world going into and out of the weekend of May 2.
Pugilism has had a painful time finding purchase on that pedestal for decades. Even horse racing—the other so-called dead-man-walking sport—finds itself in the spotlight once a year. The only time you, mainstream sports fan, have seen boxing highlights in the last 20 years is when some disaster befalls the sport or when somebody gets laid the hell out.
Pacquiao-Mayweather transcends that. Even though the fight will pit an aging offensive great against an aging defensive specialist, even though it’ll probably go 12 rounds, and even though it won’t feature the most exciting boxer in the world, it should be a good fight and it will be a massive fight. My dad knows it’s going on, and while he was probably just talking about going to Dallas for the spectacle, that’s something. It’s so mainstream you might see Matt Lauer interview Mayweather on the Today Show, which will be the 7 most hateable minutes of television in the history of both minutes and television.
The MGM in Vegas is going to be packed to the gills for the fight itself. Some media business-types are talking about 3-plus million Pay-Per-View buys, or maybe a half million more buys than any other fight, ever. With PPVs going for $70-$80 plus these days, some have speculated the boxers could be in line for a nine-digit payday—all of them left of the decimal point. Someone you know will likely buy the fight, and when you decide to go watch it at his place, you will bring $5-$10 and offer it before he asks you about it, because you’re not a dick.
It’s portentous for the fight to come at a time when boxing heads back to network TV with Al Michaels and Marv Albert hosting and calling the action. As my dad added when we were talking about the fight, “a big fight used to be as big as anything else in sports.”
For one night, at least, it will be again.