Fight of the century: Pacquiao-Mayweather arrives

At last. After five years of posturing, pondering and plenty of verbal sparring, Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao finally step into the ring on May 2 (US time) for what is being billed as the “Fight of the Century”. And it’s easy to see why.

The super fight features two of the finest boxers of this, or any, generation and is destined to be the most lucrative ever, generating an eye-watering $350 million-plus in revenue. Host venue, the 16,800-capacity MGM Grand Garden Arena, sold out within seconds; hotel rooms on the famous Las Vegas strip within minutes.

Tickets, of which only 500 were made available to the general public this week, are now exchanging hands on the black market for up to $150,000 each. Boxing has never seen the likes.

On paper at least, it certainly makes for an enthralling spectacle, pitting two pugilists with contrasting styles inside the ring, and differing personalities outside of it. “Good against evil” is how Pacquiao’s camp has mischievously billed it.

Mixing styles
Mayweather (47-0-0, 26 KOs) is the brash, and sometimes crass, playboy who is only too happy to offend. “No f****** fighter can beat me. I am boxing,” he boasts in one infamous clip. A counter-puncher with a near impenetrable defence – perhaps the greatest in history – he’s the self-proclaimed “Best Ever”, as his unbeaten record proves.

Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) is the humble, family man, a devout Christian and likely future president of his beloved Philippines. The first, and only, champion in eight different weight divisions, Pacman, 36, is, in the words of Mike Tyson, “perpetual motion”: an aggressive, power-puncher who adopts an all-out attacking approach.

Mayweather’s long-held assertion that “styles make fights” is, in part, why there is so much intrigue surrounding the bout. That and a near five-year wait to finally see the two men face off.

Previous attempts to make the fight – most notably in late 2009 – had failed over various issues, including division of the purse and drug testing protocols. Mayweather demanded a 60-40 split and Olympic-style testing amongst others. Pacquiao finally relented.

But is that a sign of what’s to come? While many fight experts predict a Mayweather points win, others are backing Fighting Pride of the Philippines to shock the world, chief among them Oscar De La Hoya.

Live Screening of the Welterweight World Championship

Where: Various Novo Cinemas in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

When: May 3
Start: 05:00The legendary American is one of only five men to have fought both protagonists – losing a split decision to Mayweather in 2007 before slipping to Pacquiao by TKO 19 months later.

“I’m going to have to give Pacquiao the advantage,” said De La Hoya on the sidelines of the Icons Cup, a celebrity golf tournament in Dubai, last week. “I feel Pacquiao has to win the first two or three rounds, because it’ll make Mayweather have to come from behind and he’ll have to start to pressure Pacquiao, to be the aggressor, and Mayweather does not like doing that.”

What Pacquiao has to do is go in with a lot of combinations, a lot of footwork, which he has. And I hear he’s in tremendous, tremendous shape.

“With Mayweather, we’re going to see the same thing he does in every fight, which is box, win the rounds one at a time. I don’t see Mayweather trying to knock out Pacquiao, but I can see Pacquiao trying to knock out Mayweather.”

The boxing world waits with bated breath. It’s over to you Michael Buffer.

VERDICTS
The four other men to have fought both Pacquiao and Mayweather have their say:

Ricky Hatton
“Manny is a great fighter but when you look at the trouble he had with the counter-punching style of Juan Manuel Marquez, he could be in serious trouble with Mayweather. Floyd always finds a way to win, no matter the style, and that’s the reason that I make him a slight favourite over Manny.”

Juan Manuel Marquez
“In these kind of fights height and strength is not a big difference. Most importantly is who has the better mind in the fight, who launches their attacks better, and uses their defence better, which Mayweather knows how to do well and Pacquiao must improve on.

“Floyd’s style and technique has given him 47 wins, so why take a risk in the biggest fight of his career? Floyd is a technical fighter who can make it a boring fight if that suits him. If it can be a quiet fight for Floyd then he’s going to take that and look to get a clear decision.”

Miguel Cotto
“After working with Freddie [Roach, Manny Pacquiao’s renowned trainer] I think Freddie is going to be huge in the fight. I’m going for Manny.”

Shane Mosley
“The better technician will be Floyd. He’s been fighting a lot more on the inside, and throwing harder shots. I don’t think people realise that Mayweather does have a little bit of power. I see that Mayweather wins the fight and I think it goes 12 rounds.”

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