After roughly five years of fan frustration, tiresome negotiations and verbal back-and-forth jabs, a championship fight between the two top pound-for-pound boxers in the world appears to be finally set to take place. Welterweights Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are on the verge of signing a deal to fight in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand on May 2.
Sources told TMZ that the negotiators are putting “finishing touches” on a deal. Most experts believe a Mayweather-Pacquiao contest will set records for a pay-per-view event, and the purse could easily exceed $200 million. In recent months, a major hold up has been television contracts. Mayweather is tied to Showtime, while Pacquiao has a contract with HBO.
There has been a great deal of discussion that the fight would finally take place after recent wins by the two fighters, as well as the prospect that both stars are nearing retirement. There have been reports on both boxers that they will retire after 2015, and that they could fight twice this year.
Famed promoter Bob Arum, who represents Pacquiao, stated in recent days he expected the fight to be signed by the end of the week. Mayweather and Pacquiao met during halftime of an NBA game between the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. They held a private meeting later that night, according to ESPN.
Mayweather, 37, will enter his next fight as the undefeated champion. He is a defensive specialist, but with excellent punching power. Few boxers have come close to defeating the Michigan native since he made his professional debut in 1996. His most recent victories have come against Marcos Maidana, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Robert Guerrero.
Pacquiao has established himself as one of the most charismatic and effective boxers of his generation. The 36-year-old has an enormous following in his native Philippines, and has recently been on a hot streak following a shocking knockout at the hands of top rival Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, and a controversial decision loss to Timothy Bradley months earlier. The loss to Bradley was Pacquiao’s first since losing a unanimous decision to Erik Morales in 2005.
Mayweather and Pacquiao are arguably the faces of boxing, and a fight between the legends could be the sporting event of the year.
Pacquiao is not afraid to brawl, and often looks to punish opponents by carefully timed and powerful crosses, while Mayweather is skilled at baiting opponents into taking ill-advised punches and then using his speed to capitalize on those mistakes. The combination of Mayweather’s defensive tactics and perceived difficulties with southpaws, along with the aggressive style of Pacquiao, has made the potential bout all the more enticing.
Odds makers have listed Mayweather as a 3-1 favorite.
An IB Times staff reporter contributed to this report.