It doesn’t matter whom Floyd Mayweather meets Saturday night in Las Vegas, because the champion won’t be in the fight that boxing fans have dreamt about for most of the past five years.
“Money Mayweather” will certainly live up to one of his nicknames, though. In his pay-per-view bout against welterweight Marcos Maidana, an 11-1 underdog, the unbeaten Mayweather is guaranteed $32 million, more than enough loose change to lay down a seven-figure bet on the longest of long shots in the Kentucky Derby.
According to Forbes.com, the Maidana fight is the ninth straight in which Mayweather has banked more than $25 million, and as long as he keeps fighting – and winning – he will see paydays in the same range.
Unless, of course, he fights the only man that people want to see him fight: Manny Pacquiao.
Mayweather-Pacquiao has been a fight fan’s wish since the two men staked their claims years ago to the title of the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer. Both have their legion of supporters – fans who live and die with each man’s performances. They've long wanted to line up and buy front-row tickets for what would be the richest payday ever in boxing.
Think in terms of $50 million purses apiece, and you might have the starting point for negotiations. The popularity of both fighters should send purses well above $75 million for each.
And that’s been the delay in promoting the fight: money. Or who will get what share of it. Mayweather, Pacquiao and their promoters can’t agree on the answer.
It is the disagreement over splitting millions that is most perplexing. For a boxer never has a career that lasts an eternity. He has to look for something else to do with his life, even when he does bank the kind of money that Mayweather and Pacquiao have.
In his fight last month against Timothy Bradley, the 35-year-old Pacquiao, a man whose skills are eroding, took home more than $20 million. Since he turned pro, he has earned more than $300 million, a handsome sum for a man in the hurt business.
So for him, it can’t be about the cash. Neither can it be for 37-year-old Floyd Mayweather, who’s pocketed more than $333 million from his ring work.
Both men are rich beyond what most people can ever imagine; all they have left in their careers in the ring is to put together a final signature bout – against each other.
Pac Man vs. Money Mayweather … it’s the only mega-bout that makes sense; it’s the only bout worth plopping down $50-plus on a Saturday night to watch on pay-per-view; it’s the only bout that can resurrect boxing from its irrelevance.
Yet all fight fans hear is posturing from both camps. All they see is Mayweather and Pac Man in the ring against another “tomato can” who adds nothing to their boxing legacies. Maidana, whoever the hell he is, is the latest to fit that description.
Fight fans have grown tired of Mayweather vs. Mr. Nobody. They now want to see Mayweather vs. Mr. Somebody, and in their minds, Mr. Somebody’s real name happens to be Manny Pacquiao.
So let’s get it on, Pretty Boy Floyd.
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(Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)