On Sunday at the MGM Grand, Manny Pacquiao avenged his poorly-scored 2012 loss to Timothy Bradley. Around the same time as Pacquiao — his chest dotted with blood from a cut above the eye — had his arms raised in triumph, Floyd Mayweather, also in the same city, posted a picture, on Instagram, of himself sitting in a bubbling hot tub, enjoying the attention of a bevy of beauties.
The video also shows a fire pit next to the pool. Leaving aside the reason why Mayweather would need the fire pit while relaxing in sunny Vegas, the nagging question Mayweather could answer is why he won’t fight Pacquiao.
Indeed, Mayweather’s next bout, in three weeks time, will be against the Argentine Marcos Maidana — a 7.5 to 1 underdog.
The same question was expectedly posed to Pacquiao’s corner after his win. Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s manager, ranted about Mayweather making easy paydays rather than face the worthiest challenger. “Write all you want about 15-1 fights with no-hopers and all this thuggery,” Arum said ringside.
Mayweather and Pacquiao is one of modern boxing’s most infuriating non-bouts. There is no question Pacquiao — a belt holder across eight divisions — is still a better fight than just about anything else that the undefeated Mayweather can make at 147 or 154 pounds. From a purely boxing standpoint, neither Mayweather, 37, nor Pacquiao, 35, are in their prime but there remains huge fan interest.
The two have circled each other for years but a showdown between the fight game’s biggest has remained elusive.It has fallen through over any number of reasons — from enhanced drug-testing to a greater profit share. Politics have played their part. The two boxers fight under rival banners (Top Rank for Pacquiao, Golden Boy/Mayweather Promotions for Mayweather). Mayweather has also said he will “never do business” with Arum. There is also the fact that Mayweather has an exclusive Showtime deal while Pacquiao’s fights are shown on HBO (the contract isn’t exclusive). Unless there’s a massive shift in boxing politics, that’s the end of the story.
But not quite. One of those calling for MayPaq on Sunday on Twitter was Lennox Lewis. Lewis faced the same situation ahead of his bout with Mike Tyson 12 years ago. Back then, Lewis had an exclusive contract with HBO while Tyson had one with Showtime. Like Mayweather-Pacquiao, the fight had little boxing significance — Tyson was well past his prime — but the two networks signed a joint pay-per-view deal. The bout generated US$106.9 million from almost two million pay-per-view buys, and remains the richest in heavyweight boxing history.
As such, the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout is very possible, given the money at stake. If Lewis is to be believed, it will happen, but it will likely be the last fight for both.
Jonathan is a senior correspondent in New Delhi.