The $250,000,000 Fight!
By Coach Tim Walker - They don't come around very often. The rarest of fights, that is. Pitting two boxers of historical significance against each other. If we're blessed, we'll see a couple of them in our lifetime. That extraordinarily, elusive fight when two of history's best boxers reach the pinnacle of their talent, at the same time. It is, however, much more than converging upon an apex. One must also consider their weight classes as well. If they are not in the same weight class, then irrevocably, one would have to ascend weight, thereby reducing his skill, or the other will descend, ultimately doing the same. This unfortunate setting is almost certain not to exhibit both fighters at their optimum, which inadvertently diminishes the fight's potential, however unintentional.
Article posted on 17.05.2010
This is not a conversation referencing really good boxers. The class of boxer who would participate in rare fight is exceptional. Prodigious. For lack of a more descriptive term, special.. Fighters whose ring presence, personas and skill so thoroughly outweigh everyone else's, that they simply dwarf the competition, making them appear as if their presence in the ring is unwarranted. This class of fighter is so magnanimous that they superimpose the sport. The rarest of opportunities. The rarest of fights.
Who reading this would not salivate at seeing Sugar Ray Robinson face Muhammad Ali, in their primes, in the same weight class? Doesn't the idea of Joe Louis and Jack Johnson, in a face off, make you want to grab hold of your seat? What about Rocky Marciano against George Foreman? Of course, these matches would only be possible if they lived in the same era, fought in same weight class, and met at the upper edge of their talents. That is a lot to ask isn't it?
Not since the days of Mike Tyson claiming heavyweight stardom, has there been such a boxing buzz. Not since the days of Ali, Foreman and Frazier has the entire world turned around to pay attention to a boxing match. There have been monstrously, huge fights in the storied history of boxing. Many in recent times. Some are famous for the atmosphere that surrounded them. Some are famous for the way the combatants pummeled each other. Others are appreciated from a historic standpoint, such as the aforementioned Jack Johnson, becoming the first black man to win the world heavyweight title.
When you consider huge fights, maybe some of these come to mind. Ali vs. Frazier. Hagler vs. Hearns. Leonard vs. Hagler. Ali vs. Foreman. Holyfield vs. Qawi. Chavez vs. Taylor. On and on. Boxing matches so sought after that they grabbed hold of not only the attention of the boxing fan, but the casual fan and many people who typically shun boxing altogether.
When Ali faced Foreman he had the entire continent of Africa chanting, "Ali! Bumaye!" as we all tuned in.
When Sugar Ray Robinson faced Randy Turpin for the second time, James Dawson of the New York Times wrote, "The contest surpasses in interest anything in middleweight history and will shatter financial records for a non-heavyweight fight."
When Pernell Whitaker faced Julio Cesar Chavez in front of nearly 57,000 fans, and fought to an undeserved draw over 12 rounds, Sports Illustrated's headline read a single descriptive word, "ROBBED!"
Then there is the combustible, ridiculously sought after match between, yep you might have guessed it, Floyd "Money" Mayweather Junior and Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao. A fight that could easily register as the greatest pay per view boxing event in history, and tower over many other major sporting events in the process. There are many reasons why this fight should happen but here are the three reasons I think it will happen.
Both fighters consider themselves to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Both may not openly state it, but both allow other people to say it. If you ask Floyd Mayweather he'll tell you flat out, yes I am the best boxer ever. If you ask Manny, he will utter a statement that defers such a boast to the decision making powers of the people. Humility to say the least, but notice he didn't say he isn't did he? Mayweather, has even go so far as to say that he is the absolute best fighter in boxing history. Here is a fact for us all to consider, a successful person doesn't aspire to greatness by thinking they are not the best at what they do, even if you won't openly state it. That belief is part of their makeup. If they didn't believe it, they wouldn't go up in weight and challenge bigger buys.
Floyd's ego is exemplified in the perennial boxing bad boy image that he has carved out for himself. He thrives on this role and plays it to its maximum. If you don't believe me, throw a camera or a microphone in front of the yes-ma'am no-ma'am version of Dr. Jekyll and watch him instantly turn into the sailor-mouthed version of Mr. Hide. He knows this business and he works it. His ego is as big and dominating as his boxing style, which in converse, is as complex as his persona and position in boxing. There is always a method to his madness even if the vast majority of us don't know what it is. Truth be told, many of us don't know what it is. We just sort of go along for the ride, either on one side or the other.
Make no mistake, Mayweather isn't alone in the ego department. Mr. Pacquiao has quite a bit of ego as well. The difference is Manny's ego is wrapped in a nice guy shell. If you listen attentively, you can hear Manny knavishly take small pokes at the Mayweather armor. Still, he is never rude. That's not his way. He's not an in your face, loud personality, but you don't achieve success on that level by being anyone's softy. Though you may never hear him say he is the best of all time, Pacquiao routinely, though politely, lets it known that he wants to face Mayweather to shut him up. Even in this proclamation, he remains true to character. As quoted by Manny, "The difference between Floyd with the other fighters I went up against is that he talks a lot of trash which should not be emulated by kids." That is Manny's way of letting us know he really wants to face Mayweather. It should be clear, neither of these fighters want to be second best, neither wants to lose. Neither will lightly abandon the pound for pound position they have so rightfully earned.
Huge egos don't reside with the fighters alone. There is a lot of fuel being added to this fire by the promoters as well. Promoters Oscar De La Hoya and Bob Arum are no strangers at taking an occasional verbal jab at each other. Neither is willing to concede that their big ticket is not as big as the other's biggest ticket. They are also not willing to concede being the second biggest promoter. There is enough to go around in these camps.
Both fighters, in slightly different ways, grab the public's attention. As mentioned before, Manny is the soft spoken, ultra-polite personality who turns into a controlled, systematic mad-man in the boxing ring. He is the fighter who sings karaoke until the early morning hours after fighting 12 hard rounds. He is the fighter who jumps into a pickup game of basketball or plays hours of billiards at the local eatery. He is the fighter who wants to help the masses who are not in a position to help themselves. This, coupled with his extraordinary ability in the boxing ring, is what gravitates people towards him.
Then there is Mayweather. I absolutely do not mean for that to come off as trite, because its not. If you believe the hype surrounding Mayweather, then your general feeling concerning him is that he is the coldest, most obnoxious, self centered boxer on the planet. Regardless of how true or untrue this may or may not be, this is the image that he has built. Not as evident is his work outside the boxing ring. It is not an uncommon practice, these days, for celebrity athletes to establish charity organizations. It is a good way to give back to the community. Unfortunately, many of these athletes rarely see the inside walls of the charity's office, let alone participate in any of their charity events not covered by media. Mayweather isn't one of those celebrity athletes. His charitable exploits typically fly under the radar, though he is physically involved in much of the charitable work. He hands out food to the homeless and offers support to the community on a regular basis, but that is seldom reported because it is the antiphrasis of his celebrity persona. It is that persona, and his willingness to accept all that goes along with it, that causes boxing fans, as well as casual fans, to tune in. His building of that persona is also the reason he is the boxer fans love to hate. They absolutely tune in. Many watch in hopes of him doing well, still, others tune in awaiting and hoping he finally gets beat. Still, they all tune in.
The public demand makes this fight potentially, the most lucrative and most watched fight in pay per view boxing history. The record currently being Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather, Junior with 2,700,000 total pay per view buys. Some may think I'm crazy, but I actually think the Mayweather/Pacquiao could generate upwards of 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 pay per view sales. Immediately some of you, and justifiably so, offer that neither of these fighters were able to even pull 1,500,000 in their last four bouts. Mayweather Mosley did 1,400,000, estimated to finish closer to 1,600,000 when its all said and done. Pacquiao Clottey did 700 to 750,000 depending on who you ask. Mayweather Marquez did 1,000,000. Pacquiao Cotto did 1,250,000. Those are all respectable numbers. Collectively, though, they add up to 4,600,000 which is still nearly 500,000 buys short of 5 million. Why such a bold estimate?
The fight between Mayweather Pacquiao has been in high demand since it was announced that Mayweather was coming out of retirement over a year ago. Recall Mayweather's infamous reveal of him returning to boxing, if you would. It was announced at a press conference just a few hours before Pacquiao faced Ricky Hatton. Since that ominous announcement, back in May 2009, the public has been demanding this fight. Calculate it. 12 months of solid press from boxing cites to main stream media to talk shows to whatever. All debating when, if, how and where they would fight. All choosing sides. Millions of people are talking about this fight. More importantly, millions upon millions will be more than willing to ante up $50-60 to see it. This fight is as popular with boxing fanatics, as it is with casual fight fans, as it is with people who never watch boxing. The previously mentioned matchups were great, but none of them were Mayweather Pacquiao. Of course, I have no data to support such a boast, but it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility for this fight, with these fighters, at this moment, to do those numbers. I think it is absolutely within reach.
So Much Money
In a sport where it only makes sense if business makes cents, none of the players in this game are willing, despite their public claims, to walk away totally from this fight. If they were, why would they even be considering it when they were at such deadlock in January. Both sides openly state that they will not soften their stance. If this is the case then why even go back to the table? If there is no compromise then how can you compromise? It is simple, they aren't stupid and this is all necessary gamesmanship, and it's working.
This fight would do at least as well as Mayweather/De La Hoya, which generated $120,000,000 in pay per view revenue (final revenue has been reported in the area of $135,000,000). That isn't chump change. To say it bluntly, both fighters could generate 500,000 to 1,000,000 pay per view buys no matter who they fight. Neither of these fighters foresee that type of earning potential to face anyone else. They are, in fact, the cream of the crop. If my estimate holds true, (who knows) this fight, with a buy rate of $50-60, would generate $250,000,000 to $300,000,000. That's a quarter billion dollars, with a B! They may not like each other, but again, none of them are stupid.
Earlier I alluded to the ultra-potential of this boxing match. I also alluded to the fact that this match is so big that it will cause people who care nothing about boxing to tune in. My final point is this: It would, in fact, be a where were you moment in time. People remember where they were, if they were alive, when Neal Armstrong stepped off the Apollo 11 onto the moon. Though is not of the same historical significance, in like manner, people will remember where they were when the sport, blessed with two of its best ever athletes, met in the ring and did battle. They will remember who they were with, what they drank and nearly every scream and sigh. They will remember who they rooted for, and if their rooting turned into cheers of victory, or sighs of defeat. If this fight happens, every boxing fan will remember. I think it will happen. There are potentially $250,000,000 why it will.
Coach Tim Walker is a contributing writer for Eastsideboxing.com and his own personal blog at boxing4life.blogspot.com welcomes comments. To suggest fighters for Monthly Stud and The Project please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome questions or comments.
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