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Mayweather/Pacquiao battle: Now that was a real fight of the century



Floyd Mayweather (left) and Manny Pacquaio exchanging blows during their Welterweight unification bout in Las Vegas…on Saturday. PHOTO: AFP.

When the World Boxing Federation in February announced that the world’s highest-paid athlete, Floyd Mayweather, was headed for the biggest payday of his career by putting his undefeated record on the line in a faceoff with Manny Pacquiao on May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, U.S., lovers of boxing and analysts the world over declared the anticipated contest the fight of the century.

The reason for this was because these two athletes were the best pound-for-pound boxers in the sport. While Mayweather maintains a 47-0 record (now 48-0, after winning the fight of the century), Pacquiao has fought many of the same opponents as Mayweather, often times slaying his opponents harder than Mayweather.

But after the fight, which happened in the wee hours of Sunday morning, May 3, some pundits posited that the bout despite all the hype did not meet the expectation of spectators.

Perhaps this feeling may have surfaced due to the way both boxers fought during the entire 12 rounds bout. But looking beyond the 12 round bout and reasons highlighted by boxing experts, one would have no doubt that the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was indeed the fight of the century.

Firstly, HBO and Showtime, the two Pay-Per-View (PPV) companies that provided live broadcast of the fight, said the rights for the fight almost certainly shattered the records for PPV buys (2.5 million for Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya).

According to Wikipedia, Pay-per-view (PPV) is a type of pay television service by which a subscriber of a television service provider can purchase events to view via private telecast. The broadcaster shows the event at the same time to everyone ordering it. Events can be purchased using an on-screen guide, an automated telephone system, or through a live customer service representative.

Events often include feature films, sporting events and other entertainment programmes.

The Mayweather – Pacquiao bout, which shared a 60/40 purse in Mayweather’s favour, was broadcast to MultiChoice Nigeria premium subscribers through SuperSport at no extra charge cost.

Reports have circulated that the fighters earned $150 million (Mayweather) and $100 million (Pacquiao), as American pay-TV subscribers had to pay between $90-$100 in order to watch the match on PPV.

Secondly, despite the short promotion of the event (a mere two months), the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight also had other significant revenue streams. The gate topped $40 million and all the tickets were priced somewhere between $1,000 and $7,500 (some of these tickets were even resold for hundreds of thousands of dollars).

Thirdly, the fight is acclaimed the fight of the century because Mayweather, 38, is unbeaten in 47 professional fights stretching back to 1996. He has also won world titles in five different weight classes. On the other hand, Pacquiao, 36, is a six-weight world champion and he has also been beaten five times in 64 fights since turning pro in 1995.

Just as was stated at the onset, between the two boxers, they have victories over a host of fellow boxing greats, including Oscar de la Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto and Britain’s Ricky Hatton.

Yet another reason why the fight between both boxers was regarded as a battle royale was the issue of what is at stake.

In boxing terms, Mayweather’s World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight titles and the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) title owned by Pacquiao were on the line. Also on the line was Mayweather’s unbeaten record. This landmark fight was to be a watershed moment in both boxers’ careers, one way or the other.

While Pacquiao has boxed 419 career rounds, Mayweather has boxed 363 career rounds. This in turn generated the highest ticket price, as a ringside seat was sold for $100,000 and the tickets were sold out in just one minute.

Entertainment analysts described the fight arena; MGM Grand Garden Arena as a melting pot for celebrated stars in various endeavors. Stars like Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, Jay Z, Beyonce, Mike Tyson, Ben Affleck, Michael J. Fox, Tom Brady, Mark Wahlberg and P. Diddy are only a handful of the many A-list names that were live at the venue.

• Okwu, a public relations practitioner, writes from Lagos.

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