Many people across the world have May 2 circled on their calendar due to the Floyd “Money” Mayweather 47-0) vs Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (57–5– 2) welterweight world championship unification boxing bout.
Despite the heavy buzz and excitement over probably the two best pound-for-pound fighters of the last decade getting it on, many people in the sports world and the general public feel the fight is five years past due.
For a better perspective, let us rewind to May 2, 2009.
Pacquiao was set to fight against Ricky Hatton that very day, while Mayweather announced he was coming out of retirement and would fight Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18, 2009, in a welterweight non-title fight. At this particular time Mayweather was an inactive retired fighter after announcing his retirement June 6, 2008, six months after defeating Hatton by a 10-round TKO.
During Mayweather’s brief retirement, Pacquiao rose to superstar status in America because of his eighth-round TKO victory over Oscar De La Hoya on Dec. 6, 2008, for which he moved up from lightweight to welterweight (135 pounds to 147 pounds).
During Mayweather’s press conference he played down the “Fighting Pride of the Philippines’,” newfound stardom by stating: “If he wins tonight, don’t be all shocked … Cause guess what? I beat (Hatton) when he was undefeated. Pacquiao beat Oscar, it don’t matter. Going down to 147 pounds was too much for (De La Hoya), he was dead after the first round. I also think that Marquez beat him twice. When you talk boxing, you talk Floyd Mayweather.”
Pacquiao would go on to defeat Hatton by a second-round knockout to win The Ring junior welterweight title. The knockout earned him the The Ring magazine “Knockout of the Year” for 2009. The win made him just the second boxer in history to win titles in six weight divisions after De La Hoya.
On Sept. 19, 2009, despite coming off a 21-month hiatus and a rib injury, which pushed back the fight, Mayweather would look sharp and dominant as ever in a fight with Pacquiao’s arch-rival Marquez while cruising to a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision.
After the bout, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe stated that a fight with Pacquiao was the “next obvious choice from a marketing standpoint.”
On Nov. 14, 2009, Pacquiao defeated Miguel Cotto via technical knockout in the 12th round at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Although the bout was sanctioned as a world title fight in the welterweight division, where the weight limit is 147 pounds, Cotto agreed to fight at a catchweight of 145 pounds. Like Pacquiao’s previous opponent De La Hoya, Cotto looked drained and sluggish the whole fight after a steep weight cut.
Following the victory against Cotto, there was much public demand for a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao.
A Mayweather-Pacquiao bout at that time was expected to be the largest-grossing fight in history, in which total revenues could reach $300 million. Experts predicted the fight would sell between 2.5 million and 3 million pay-per-views in the U.S. Venues for the fight being discussed were Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and the Superdome in New Orleans.
Pacquiao reportedly agreed to fight Mayweather on March 13, 2010 for a split of $50 million up front and the fight would be held at the MGM Grand. However, the bout never materialized due to disagreements about Olympic-style drug testing.
Ellerbe declared on Jan. 18, 2010 that random blood and urine testing would be implemented in all of Mayweather’s future fights, regardless of the opponent. To this day Mayweather has lived up to his word, as both he and his opponents have undergone random blood and urine testing leading up to all his fights ever since.
On Feb. 13, 2010, in an exclusive interview with The Grand Rapids Press, Mayweather said, “I gave him (Pacquiao) a chance, up to 14 days out. But my new terms are all the way up to the fight. They can come get us whenever, all the way up to the fight, random drug test. That’s what it is.”
After the failed negotiations, both boxers moved on to other fights.
On March 13, 2010, Pacquiao defeated Joshua Clottey via unanimous decision, and on May 1, 2010, Mayweather beat Shane Mosley by a unanimous decision.
Since March 2010, both fighters’ careers and lives have gone in opposite directions only for them to come back together and finally merge in 2015 after a chance meeting at a Miami Heat basketball game.
Pacquiao would beat an overmatched Clottey before going on to win a title in his eighth weight class by destroying Antonio Margarito, and followed that victory by outclassing an over-the-hill Shane Mosely.
Next up was a third fight with Marquez at a catchweight of 144 pounds where Pacquiao would squeak out a very controversial majority decision. The decision was booed by many in attendance and voted “Robbery of the Year” by The Ring magazine readers.
The Filipino Slugger would hit rock bottom in 2012 as he would be on the wrong end of a majority decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. in June and get put to sleep in “Knockout of the Year” fashion by Marquez in their fourth matchup in December.
Since bottoming out Pacquiao has had three consecutive vanilla wins over the likes of Brandon Rios, Chris Algieri and Bradley in their rematch. Despite the ups and downs, a Pacquiao win May 2 would erase the controversial Bradley loss and get rid of the brutal knockout loss to Marquez instantly.
While Pacquiao was on a roller coaster of a ride, Mayweather was cruising towards becoming “TBE” aka “The Best Ever.”
Mayweather knocked out Victor Ortiz in 2011 to regain the WBC Welterweight belt he relinquished when he retired. He then moved up in weight in 2012 to fight WBA super welterweight champion and The Ring No. 1-ranked light middleweight Cotto. Despite fighting toe-to-toe with the bigger Cotto, Mayweather was able to win a unanimous decision by scores of 118–110, 117–111 and 117–111.
After the fight, Mayweather said Cotto was the toughest fighter he ever faced.
On June 1, 2012, Mayweather reported to the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas to serve his 87-day jail term for domestic abuse. After serving two months, he was released from prison on Aug. 3.
After signing a six-fight contract with Showtime, Mayweather would steamroll Robert Guerrero and give Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez his first loss in two fights in 2013.
Mayweather received $41.5 million for this fight before taking into account pay-per-view sales. This super fight ended up being the most profitable boxing and sporting event of the time.
The Money man would follow the Canelo fight with two ordinary performances against Marcos Maidana in back-to-back bouts.
No matter if you agree with how they got here or how strong you feel about the missed opportunity in 2010, one thing is for certain – if you can’t get to Las Vegas May 2 for Mayweather-Pacquiao you better find somewhere where the fight is being shown. Otherwise you will miss out on your chance to witness a fight people will still be talking about many years from now.