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Boxers are many things: They’re among the toughest people walking the planet. They can endure frightening amounts of pain. As a group, they’re magnificently conditioned. They’re also unusually sensitive with extraordinarily fragile egos.
That’s why it was predictable that as media and fan attention on the rematch for the middleweight title Saturday night in Las Vegas between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin reached a crescendo that Floyd Mayweather would do something to call attention to himself.
He did it in the wee hours of Saturday morning, posting a short video on Instagram of himself talking to Manny Pacquiao and writing that a rematch was soon to come.
A post shared by Floyd Mayweather (@floydmayweather) on Sep 15, 2018 at 3:51am PDT
He got the desired result: Social media was abuzz on Saturday as people awakened to Mayweather’s post and began the speculation.
It appeared they were meeting in a night club, though Mayweather did not specify where the video was shot. But given that the first fight between them was largely made by a chance meeting at an NBA game in Miami, it’s not inconceivable that this wasn’t a planned meeting to discuss a rematch.
The first fight between them was unlike anything many of us had seen, and had more pre-fight buzz and anticipation than any bout since the epic March 8, 1971, first bout at Madison Square Garden between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
That 2015 fight was hardly a classic in the ring. Mayweather did what Mayweather does, pecking, poking, moving, minimizing risk, avoiding big exchanges and generally taking his opponent out of his game. Pacquiao, who had an injured shoulder and had surgery not long after the fight, was clearly a shell of his once brilliant self.
At his peak, Pacquiao was an extraordinary combination of speed and power, aggressiveness and boxing ability, and a prime Pacquiao vs. a prime Mayweather would have been one of the best fights ever held.
But in 2015, both men were long past their peaks and that bout showed it. Mayweather had much more left than Pacquiao, but all the bout really did was make fight fans melancholy over the fact they didn’t meet five years earlier, when both were in their primes. A 2010 bout between Mayweather and Pacquiao would have been another Alexis Arguello-Aaron Pryor classic. The 2015 bout was equivalent to the rematch between Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard, when both guys had lost plenty off their fastballs and were meeting only for the paycheck that their names would provide and not for any true competitive reason.
It’s hardly a guarantee that they will meet again, though Pacquiao is so desperate given his reported financial problems that he’ll jump at the opportunity. If Mayweather determines he can make another $150 million or more, he’d no doubt jump back into training.
Many fans felt ripped off the first time they fought. Tickets were ridiculously high and priced out any true boxing fans. Las Vegas hotel room rates skyrocketed as they attempted to cash in on the mania, only to see them plummet right before the fight as fans found cheaper alternatives.
Any serious boxing fan wants to see the fighters make as much money as humanly possible because of the risk they take in the ring. But when they charge premium prices, they need to deliver a premium event. Mayweather-Pacquiao didn’t just push the boundaries of what is considered premium, they crushed it as if the world’s most powerful tanks steamrolled it. It was a pure money grab and they laughed at the people who forked over record prices.
Four years later, it’s not going to be any better.
Ultimately, the public will have a large say in whether this bout occurs. They’re among the greatest fighters who ever lived, but they’re far from their peaks. Do you want to see a home run derby with Bryce Harper against Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton against Mike Trout, or do you want to see one with Hank Aaron against Willie Mays?
Pacquiao needs the money and he’s going to say yes almost no matter what. The fight will occur if Mayweather believes there is enough interest among fans in seeing two once-great champions in a senior tour bout that he’d make $150 million or more.
The hype will be incredible if it happens again, though the action certainly doesn’t figure to be anything close.