Light undercard may mean Mayweather-Pacquiao broadcast could be a drag

Boxing

LAS VEGAS – There is no denying the excitement over the long-awaited Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight, which takes place Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The city is abuzz, the heels are high, the suits are loud and the locals are already dreading the madness that will certainly ensue on fight night.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao pose during Wednesday's news conference in Las Vegas. (AFP)
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao pose during Wednesday's news conference in Las Vegas. (AFP)

What most folks may not realize – or, more accurately, might not yet care about – are the specifics of the undercard bouts on the Showtime pay-per-view telecast, which is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST.

In a bit of an oddity, there are only two bouts on the telecast before the Mayweather-Pacquiao main event, which most expect to start at 11:20 EST/8:20 PST. A normal PPV telecast usually features four or five total bouts, so that means the latest “Fight of the Century” broadcast may be a little, um, padded out.

It also means the most expensive PPV in history – $99 for high definition and $89 for standard definition (um, who even watches SD anymore?) – is offering one of the smallest cards in history.

But at least the two undercards will be awesome … right?

Well, not exactly.

The first bout features WBO featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko, who is nothing short of brilliant and is a must-see talent. He has blistering hand speed, great feet, punching power and is a tremendous athlete. The 27-year-old Ukrainian dominated the talented Gary Russell Jr. to win the title and seems to get better with each bout.

Lomachenko’s record of 3-1 (1 KO) may not be impressive, but he had a lengthy amateur career, winning Olympic gold at the 2008 and 2012 Games, and he claims his amateur record is 396-1.

Unfortunately, he probably won’t be tested against Gamalier Rodriguez (25-2-3, 17 KOs) of Puerto Rico. Gamalier’s best win came over the notable and valiant Orlando Cruz in 2014, but the 28 year old is out of his depths against Lomachenko.

Vasyl Lomachenko is the real deal. (Getty)
Vasyl Lomachenko is the real deal. (Getty)

The biggest question facing Lomachenko is whether he has any issues with the left hand he broke while outclassing Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in November 2014 on the Pacquiao-Chris Algieri undercard.

The lead-in to Mayweather-Pacquiao features WBC super bantamweight champion Leo Santa Cruz, who is making his featherweight debut against Jose Cayetano.

Now, we’re not saying Mexico's Cayetano (17-3, 8 KOs) is a questionable opponent, but the boxing website/database BoxRec.com, which has just about everything about every fighter, doesn’t even list his age. (Don’t worry: Showtime says he’s 28.)

The 26-year-old Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KOs), born in Mexico but residing in Rosemead, Calif., has a reputation for throwing a ton of punches, not hitting super hard and facing soft competition. But hey, if you have a formula that works, stick with it.

With both undercard bouts looking like mismatches, it isn't hard to imagine each fight ending early via KO. Maybe even really early. In that case, it's reasonable to expect a lot of pre-produced filler or a ton of live analysis until the main event to kill time. Another possibility: the undercard bouts could be stretched out, with filler content placed between them. In other words, you might want to keep Cards Against Humanity handy.

Despite the long wait for the fight to finally be made, the last-minute ticket madness and the small, lackluster undercard, it should still be a night to remember.

No matter the wait for the main event.

Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole breaks down Pacquiao-Mayweather

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