For the past two years, these two trains have been heading directly towards one another with a head full of steam and everyone has watched from a distance. It’s the collision everyone wants to see and is likely to be the richest boxing event of all time. With public interest in the sport waning, this is the singular event that could save the boxing from dwindling ticket sales and the rise of the UFC. Unfortunately, for the past two years, both sides have been unable (or unwilling) to sign their names on the dotted line and prove who is the best fighter in the world today. Despite potential earnings of $50 million each, egos, blood testing and various other nonsensical hurdles have kept this fight from happening. From Pacquiao’s resistance to yield to Mayweather’s request that the Filipino subject himself to Olympic-style drug tests to allegations of PED usage and a lawsuit from Pacquiao seeking damages for defamation of character, they have yet to get the deal done. Instead, the two have fought competition that, quite frankly, is underwhelming. An older Shane Mosley, an undersized Juan Manuel Marquez, an unwilling-to-engage Joshua Clottey and an undeserving Antonio Margarito have made ridiculous paydays fighting two fighters that nobody thought they would have a chance against.
The sad part of this is the fact that it’s mindboggling how two fighters can’t agree to fight each other and, not only take home a minimum of $50 million, but breathe life into a sport that hasn’t had the same air in its balloon since the days of Mike Tyson. It’s the only fight left to make in a sport that has yet to produce another superstar the caliber of these two fighters. There’s an indifferent shrug that comes with any fight that Pacquiao and Mayweather announce that is missing the other half of the dream fight.
Can you imagine boxing without Ali and Frazier? What if Joe Frazier refused to fight Ali because he wouldn’t take a blood test? The public would have been robbed of the single most important fight in boxing history. It’s the event that lives in the memories of non-sports fans who remember where they were when Frazier and Ali clashed on March 8, 1971. And should this fight happen, a new generation of boxing fans will be able to pose the question:”Where were you when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. changed the course of boxing history on…”
Floyd Mayweather Jr. photo by Chris Cozzone