Pacquiao-Mayweather puts sport in spotlight
May 02 2015 11:44 PM

Floyd Mayweather (left) stares at Manny Pacquiao during weigh-ins for the upcoming boxing fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday.



AFP/Las Vegas

Las Vegas throbbed with anticipation yesterday with less than 24 hours to go until Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather enter the ring for their long-awaited showdown that has captivated sports fans around the world.
The bout more than five years in the making has transcended the traditional boxing scene, catapulting the sport back into the public consciousness in a way that hasn’t been seen for decades.
“Sin City” was buzzing ahead of the welterweight world title showdown—a crowd of 11,500 turned out for Friday’s weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The same venue will host the Saturday night bout, which seems to be a lock to become the most lucrative fight of all time.
Total revenue could reach $400mn, fuelled by as many as three million pay-per-view purchases.
The record for pay-per-view buys is just under 2.5mn, and there have been fewer than 25 fights that have exceeded one million.
Add to that live crowd revenue of more than $70mn, closed circuit television revenues, sponsorship and merchandising and it could all add up to a possible $200mn payday for Mayweather, an American, and a $100mn bonanza for Pacquiao, of the Philippines.
The breathtaking figures have intensified the spotlight on a fight between two of the greatest fighters of their generation.
In Las Vegas, tourism officials said occupancy for the city’s 150,000 hotel rooms would approach 100%. Casinos were advertising red-carpet events hosted by hip-hop stars such as Puff Daddy and Snoop Dogg and pop star Justin Bieber—a Mayweather fan and friend.
Even if it doesn’t measure up to Mayweather’s claim of the “biggest fight in boxing history,” it’s an intriguing clash of styles between men of contrasting personalities.
Pacquiao, an icon in the Philippines, is a two-term congressman with a music and film career.
He credits the grace of God for lifting him from poverty in his youth and later guiding him away from a life of excess that his ring success made possible.
“Pacman” will go into the ring with all of the Philippines in his corner.
Streets will be empty on fight day—Sunday morning in the Philippines—as the nation of 100mn cheers its “National Fist.”
Mayweather, meanwhile, touts his status as a money-making machine and comes from a troubled past that includes jail time for one of a string of domestic violence incidents.
Mayweather, 47-0 with 26 knockouts, is a 2-1 favourite to add Pacquiao’s World Boxing Organization world title to his own World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council belts.
While more money is on Mayweather, more bettors were backing Pacquiao.
“Public opinion is definitely Manny Pacquiao,” said Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports books for MGM Resorts International.
Maybe so, but boxing opinion still gives the edge to Mayweather, most likely by 12-round decision.
The 38-year-old American is a supremely skilled boxer and potentially devastating counter-puncher, famed for his ability to hit without being hit.

Pacquiao the underdog
Pacquiao who weighed in a pound lighter than Mayweather, will be in the unenviable position of the smaller fighter, taking more of the risks.
The aggressive southpaw, who owns a record of 57-5-2 with 38 knockouts, says he is content in his underdog role.
A winner of world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions, Pacquiao noted that he’s beaten plenty of big foes, among them Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.
“No one thought I could beat Oscar, and I was the underdog then,” said Pacquiao, who moved up 12 pounds in weight to batter the “Golden Boy” in a fight that sent him into retirement. “Maybe it’s good for me.”
Once each had stepped off the sale on Friday, Mayweather and Pacquiao came eye-to-eye for a stare down—just their third face-to-face meeting since the bout was announced in February.
Their next will come Saturday night, when they step into the ring.
“I’ve dedicated myself to the sport of boxing for more than 20 years,” Mayweather said Friday. “I’m ready.”

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