Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, who have have been circling one another in negotiations for six years, will finally throw some punches in the ring tonight in Las Vegas.
It's being billed as the fight of the century, but to be sure the century is only 15 years old. Even so, the contest has undeniable historical significance for more prosaic reasons: it will have the biggest-ever purse, not to mention the highest price-tag of any pay-per-view — at $99.95 a pop.
Win or lose, Mayweather will take home 60 percent of the bout's total revenue, and Pacquiao 40 percent — which, according to some estimates, may be $180 million and $120 million respectively.
For many fans, picking a favorite for the welterweight title fight has more to do with personality than boxing prowess: It is either underdog 'Pacman' Pacquiao, the congressman from the Philippines, or the brash, undefeated American Mayweather, who has a history of domestic abuse and reportedly has blocked two female reporters who have written about the issue from covering the big fight.
As NPR's Frank Deford opined earlier this week: "Whatever you may think about boxing, this particular match has become the tackiest sports event this side of hot-dog eating. All of the pre-fight talk has been about money, money, money. Mayweather has a mouthguard worth $25,000 and it's made of hundred dollar bills. Meanwhile, Phillipine firms are paying to clutter up Pacquiao's trunks with more than $2 million worth of advertisements. It's safe to say that he's hitting it big below the belt."
Despite the hype (and, many say, over-hype), BoxingJunkie.com notes: "These are the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Mayweather (47-0, with 26 KOs) is 38, lives in Las Vegas and claims he has just two fights left, which is when his six-fight, $200 million contract with Showtime runs out. Pacquiao, 36, from the Philippines, is 57-5-2 (38 KOs). He is under contract to HBO."
And, The Associated Press writes:
"Their styles have been analyzed endlessly and their minds dissected as much as possible. And it still remains anyone's guess just what kind of fight this will be.
"[There are 3-1 odds] that the fight will go at least until late in the 12th round. The argument can be made that Mayweather hasn't legitimately knocked out an opponent since he stopped Ricky Hatton in 2007, and feels no pressure to do so with Pacquiao despite a payday that will likely be at least $180 million."