Think back to the great boxing matchups of all-time. Who comes to mind? Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier? Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran? Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield? Another bout may soon join the likes of these in the annals of boxing lore: Floyd Mayweather, Jr.–Manny Pacquiao. Saturday’s fight will mark the first time the two boxing giants will square off against each other in what is being called “The Fight of the Century.”
Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. enters the ring undefeated at 47-0. The sport’s best fighter has competed in five different weight classes from super featherweight to light middleweight and has his most significant wins against the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Victor Ortiz and twice against Marcos Maidana. In 2007, De La Hoya put his World Boxing Champion light-middleweight title on the line against the undersized Mayweather. In order to be able to fight De La Hoya, Mayweather was forced to go up in his weight class from 147 to the standard 154. While Mayweather only weighed in at 150 pounds and had a 10-pound and two-inch disadvantage against the stouter De La Hoya, Mayweather emerged victorious by majority decision over The Golden Boy with a scorecard that read 116–112, 115–113, 113–115.
Mayweather retired from boxing in mid-2007 after his victory over Ricky Hatton. However, after a 21-month hiatus from the sport, Mayweather returned to the ring on May 2, 2009 when he fought and subsequently defeated Juan Manuel Márquez by unanimous decision.
In June 2011, Mayweather matched up with the then-world No. 2 fighter Ortiz in Las Vegas. The two fighters exchanged some rather cheap blows as Ortiz intentionally head-butted Mayweather and cut the boxer’s mouth. Mayweather returned an equally unfair shot shortly thereafter when he unloaded a vicious left hook against a defenseless Ortiz when the referee was not looking. Mayweather followed this punch up with a swift right-handed punch to the face of Ortiz who fell to the ground unable to recover.
In the other corner of the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena will stand 5-foot-6 Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao. The 34-year-old Filipino boxer boasts a 57-5-2 record and also holds victories over both De La Hoya and Márquez. Pacquiao has been a dominant force in the sport since his emergence in American boxing in 2001 with his victory over Lehlohonolo Ledwaba. In that fight against the Super Bantamweight title-holder, Pacquiao defeated the South African by technical knockout in the sixth round.
While Pacquiao has been a force to be reckoned with on the boxing circuit, he most recently has been known for his losses against Timothy Bradley and Márquez in 2012.
In early June, Pacquiao battled with Bradley in one of the most controversial fights ever. After the bout had concluded, ESPN, HBO and numerous other ringside medias scored the fight with Pacquiao emerging victorious at 119-109. However, the judges scored the fight 115-113, 113-115 and 113-115 in favor of Bradley. After the boos of the crowd rained down upon the judges of the fight and the following scrutiny that occurred in sports media, the World Boxing Organization declared that they would look into the decision. The review panel returned on June 21, stating that Pacquiao should have won the contest with tallies of 117-111, 117-111, 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113.
Later in the year, Pacquiao squared off with Márquez for the fourth time in his career. Beating the Mexican fighter twice and drawing with him once, Pacquiao entered the ring on December 8, 2012, vying for the WBO’s Champion of the Decade belt. Pac-Man was able to knock Márquez down twice but ultimately fell in the 6th round. With one second left in the 6th, Márquez delivered a fierce uppercut to Pacquiao’s jaw that knocked the boxer unconscious.
Both Mayweather and Pacquiao enter Saturday’s fight with much on the line: Mayweather is striving to remain undefeated while Pacquiao attempts to prove he can still compete and fight at the highest level of competition.
This fight has been years in the making as both parties have attempted to bring the two boxers together since rumors began of a bout in late 2009. Yet, numerous breakdowns in negotiations between the fighters have left fans disappointed. A lot of these breakdowns have occurred because of the strong headedness of Mayweather.
Originally set to split profits 50-50 with Pacquiao, Mayweather later contested the profit split demanding he receive the greater share of the fight’s earnings. After numerous debates over the monetary division, Pacquiao conceded and allowed Mayweather to take 60 percent of the fight’s profits.
Mayweather continued his griping with the fight when he asked Pacquiao to take an Olympic-style drug test. Pacquiao agreed initially but then later declined to take the test after Mayweather stipulated he wanted it done close to the fight’s weigh-in. Pacquiao’s trainer went on the record stating that taking blood makes Pacquiao woozy and doing so close to the fight would give Mayweather an unfair advantage.
After Pacquiao agreed to the terms in late September 2012, Mayweather retorted, over a year later, how the fight would not occur because he refused to do business with Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s fight promoter.
However, after all of the dodging and running from the bout, Mayweather finally agreed to spar with the now 34-year-old Pacquiao. Some believe Mayweather postponed the fight this long in an attempt to avoid losing and seeing his undefeated record go up in smoke. Nevertheless, the fight will finally take place this Saturday in the desert of Las Vegas with money, honor and history on the line.