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TweetAt long last, pound-for-pound greats Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will fight.
Yes, the bout that looms as one of the most anticipated in boxing history is finally on.
For more than five years sports fans have clamored for a summit meeting between the two best fighters in the world, and after various failed negotiations -- and a protracted and difficult effort to make the fight in recent months -- they will get it on May 2 to unify the fighters' welterweight world titles at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The showdown is a lock to be the richest in boxing history and will, barring a draw, settle the issue that has been debated for years: Who is the No. 1 fighter in boxing and who is the king of this era?
Mayweather made the announcement on Friday afternoon on a social media platform called Shots, of which he is an investor.
"I am glad my decision to meet with Manny and discuss making this fight happen helped get the deal done," Mayweather said, referring to a chance Jan. 27 meeting with Pacquiao at a Miami Heat game followed by a private discussion after the game. "Giving the fans what they want to see is always my main focus. This will be the biggest event in the history of the sport."
In addition to the future Hall of Famers finally hammering out a deal for their welterweight title unification bout -- one that will see Mayweather receive the lion's share of a 60-40 money split in a fight that could gross around $400 million -- rival premium cable networks Showtime, which has Mayweather under contract, and HBO, which has a deal with Pacquiao, went through a brutal negotiation.
The networks resultingly will come together to produce and distribute a joint pay-per-view telecast, which is expected to cost a record-high $89.95 (and probably $10 more for high definition).
"I am very happy that Floyd Mayweather and I can give the fans the fight they have wanted for so many years," Pacquiao said. "They have waited long enough and they deserve it. It is an honor to be part of this historic event. I dedicate this fight to all the fans who willed this fight to happen and, as always, to bring glory to the Philippines and my fellow Filipinos around the world."
Many involved expected the announcement to come on Thursday, but Mayweather was upset because Top Rank, Pacquiao's promoter, was leaking word of the impending announcement and Mayweather wanted it to be a surprise.
"Boxing fans and sports fans around the world will witness greatness on May 2," Mayweather said. "I am the best ever, TBE, and this fight will be another opportunity to showcase my skills and do what I do best, which is win. Manny is going to try to do what 47 before him failed to do, but he won't be successful. He will be number 48."
According those familiar with the agreement, the contract Mayweather signed for the fight gave him the right to be the one to announce the fight, even though he was obligated to notify Top Rank of when he would do it.
On Friday afternoon, Top Rank was notified and Mayweather made the announcement about an hour later, though the deal had been done for a couple of days with both sides having signed the paperwork. Contracts were also signed by broadcasters HBO and Showtime, who will team for a historic joint pay-per-view.
"It's hasn't been easy," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com. "But I think in some strange way the inability to get the fight done before now enhances its value and this is one event that the public all over the world has been talking about and discussing for years. The interest in the fight will be absolutely red-hot. I've been promoting boxing for nearly 50 years and there is nothing that has come close to this because there has been nothing that has been so difficult to come to fruition. As interest is concerned, this is akin to the first (Muhammad) Ali-(Joe) Frazier fight.
"You have to be grateful that this is finally happening. You can't bemoan the false starts and the inability to do this before. It's here now."
The fight is expected to shatter every revenue record in boxing history, including the pay-per-view buy record of 2.4 million generated by Mayweather's 2007 junior middleweight championship fight against Oscar De La Hoya; the all-time pay-per-view revenue record of $150 million generated by Mayweather's 2013 junior middleweight championship fight against Canelo Alvarez; and the all-time gate record of $20,003,150.
"Everyone involved, including Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, knows this fight simply had to happen," said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports. "All of us are thrilled to be able to deliver this event to boxing fans around the world.
"Now, for the second time under his current deal with Showtime Networks, Floyd Mayweather has agreed to fight an opponent that many people thought he'd never face. We set an all-time pay-per-view record with the first event back in September 2013 (with Alvarez) and we look forward to another record-breaking performance on May 2."
Said HBO Sports president Ken Hershman: "Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have been the two most prominent fighters in the sport of boxing for the past decade, and fight fans around the world have been clamoring for them to face each other.
"And now, on May 2, in what everyone believes will be the biggest boxing event of all time, fight fans have been granted their wish. May 2 will be a signature moment for the sport of boxing and HBO Sports is thrilled to be a part of this spectacular event. I know the fighters and their teams will be primed to excel and we plan to work closely with everyone involved to deliver the same level of performance from a broadcast perspective."
It is only the second time Showtime and HBO have made such a deal. The first time was for the highly anticipated 2002 fight between then-heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who was with HBO, and former champion Mike Tyson, who was with Showtime.
For years, Mayweather and Pacquiao have been the two best fighters in the world, fighting in the same weight class but having not faced each other despite constant public demand.
Both have been considered the pound-for-pound king at various times, with Mayweather having held that mythical position for the past few years with Pacquiao right behind him for most of that period.
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and living in Las Vegas, "Money" Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs), who turns 38 on Tuesday, has won world titles in five weight classes, mainly with his defensive brilliance and speed, while becoming the highest-paid athlete in the world.
Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs), a 36-year-old southpaw known for his speed, power and aggressive style, became the only boxer in history to win world titles in eight weight divisions -- flyweight, junior featherweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight -- while also generating hundreds of millions of dollars and being elected to congress in his native Philippines, where he is a national icon.
"The reason I like my guy's chances so much is because of his speed, the tremendous number of punches he throws, the quality of his punches and the fact that he is left-handed," Arum said. "Top Rank promoted Floyd Mayweather for 10½ years and we recognized that he had difficulty handling a speedy, left-handed fighter and that he and his father (and trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr.) were insistent that we not match Floyd with a southpaw. I remember two fights he had with southpaws who didn't have the ability Mann has but who gave him trouble -- (DeMarcus) 'Chop Chop' Corley, who buzzed him and had him in real trouble and Zab Judah."
Said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's Hall of Fame trainer: "Floyd should enjoy being the A-Side while he can because on May 2 Manny is going to put him on his backside."
Since 2009, Mayweather-Pacquiao has loomed as boxing's biggest fight, but it took all these years to make it a reality.
Mayweather, who turned pro in 1996 after receiving an Olympic bronze medal, ended a brief retirement in September 2009 by easily outpointing Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao's biggest rival.
TALE OF THE TAPE
W-L-D 47-0-0 57-5-2
KOs 26 38
Height 5'8" 5'6½"
Reach 72" 67"
Age 37* 36
*38 Feb. 24
TweetRead this got cancelled?
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TweetYea it did
TweetMan! I was wanting Manny to beat him bad too..
TweetThat fight would been awesome. Why they stopped it was it because mayweather was juicing?
TweetMayweather is a strange bird and hard to deal with. He couldn't bet against himself so he called it. LOL
The Best Thing About TRT Is The Cycle Never Ends.
TweetLol love it good women. Lol can't stand him.
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I do not condone the use of, nor do I use anabolic or androgenic steroids. My participation on these boards is for informational purposes only. I have done extensive research of AAS and enjoy discussing them for role playing enjoyment.
TweetI think it was a net rumor. They have conference 3/11 https://m.espn.go.com/extra/boxing/st...oryId=12410562
TweetIf the fight is still on, I hope Manny waxes the floor with him.
TweetThe fight is not cancelled. Its an interesting matchup and styles make fights.