Some of the greatest sporting events in history have been in the 21st century, and the ‘Fight of the Century’ – the legendary bout between boxing greats Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather that took place in 2015 – certainly ranks as one of the greatest moments in boxing. Few fights garnered the attention and pre-fight frenzy that this one did, and it lives on for those who were lucky enough to be there as a once in a lifetime experience.
Or does it? Recent events may have brought the possibility of a rematch closer to being, so what’s all the fuss about?
Pacquiao was back in action on Saturday, where he took on the USA’s Adrien Boner for the WBA World Welterweight Title. It was a decisive points victory for the Filipino, and one watched ringside by Mayweather, now retired. After the fight, Pacquiao made no secret that he would like to take on Mayweather in a rematch, to avenge the defeat he suffered in 2015. Would Mayweather be up for it?
The original Pacquiao-Mayweather fight was one of those sporting occasions that took on a life of its own. In the US, the price to watch it on TV was an amazing $100, yet still people tuned in, not wanting to miss a spectacle that may never be seen again.
Tickets changed hands for – wait for it – as much as $350,000 for what was the most valuable and anticipated boxing match in the history of the sport. It was, quite simply, the sporting event of the year, drawing in even those who were not boxing aficionados. So, a rematch would be in everyone’s interests, of course? Not necessarily so.
It is notable that Mayweather has in fact returned from retirement twice since he originally stepped back from the sport. The first time was in 2017 when he stood up to Conor MacGregor, UFC Lightweight Champion, for a reputed $300,000.
Just recently, Mayweather appeared in an exhibition fight on New Year’s Eve, in which he took a mere 140 seconds to beat Tenshin Nazukawa, a top Japanese Kickboxer. Does this indicate his willingness to take on Pacquiao once again, or was it really just for entertainment, as Mayweather himself stated after the fight?
Given how lucrative the original fight was, it is difficult to imagine just how wealthy each man could become from a potential ‘Fight of the Century II’, but it remains to be seen whether it is on the cards. Boxing fans the world over, including those at BoxingReady.com and other such sites who watched the original intently, hope it will come about.
Speaking after the fight at the weekend, which Mayweather clearly enjoyed from his ringside seat, Leonard Ellerby of Mayweather Promotions said that Mayweather had ‘no interest’ in a rematch, adding:
‘It’s not always about the money, believe it or not. What more can the man do? He doesn’t have the motivation, the desire. He’s living the best life, traveling, running his multiple businesses, spending his well-hard earnings that he spent blood and tears on for years.
He’ll be 42 come February 24 and enough is enough. What good does it do to earn all that money but you can’t stick around and spend it. He has had a phenomenal career, he has broken all the records and he has nothing to prove.’
“I’m a Champion”
Pacquiao expressed his desire to take on Mayweather once more in the post-fight interview in Las Vegas on Saturday, telling the assembled press:
‘My message is I’m still active, and if [Mayweather] goes back to the ring and wants to challenge me, I’m a champion. Get back to the ring and we will fight again if he wants,” Pacquiao said.
“If he wants to come out of retirement, then announce it and challenge me. I’m a champion and I don’t pick any opponent. I’m just waiting to see who will challenge me, who will challenge for my belt.”
The gauntlet, then, is clearly laid down, but it seems unlikely that the challenge will come from Mayweather, who insists that he is ‘still retired’.
For boxing fans the world over – and indeed for anyone who relishes great sporting moments, of which a second fight would surely be one – there remains the hope that these two great athletes will once again face each other in the ring. Unlikely as it is, given Mayweather’s apparent reluctance, we can still remain hopeful.