It’s official: After years stops and starts, failed negotiations and endless rhetoric, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will finally meet in the ring. The anticipated showdown between the two best 147-pound fighters in the world was formally announced on Friday. The fight will take place on May 2nd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"I am very happy that Floyd Mayweather and I can give the fans the fight they have wanted for so many years,” Pacquiao said. “They have waited long enough and they deserve it ... It is an honor to be part of this historic event. I dedicate this fight to all the fans who willed this fight to happen and, as always, to bring glory to the Philippines and my fellow Filipinos around the world."
Negotiations—at least the third in the last six years—were brokered by Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS, the parent company of Showtime, which has Mayweather under an exclusive contract. The principles, which included Moonves, Top Rank’s Bob Arum and Mayweather advisor Al Haymon, conducted detailed discussions over the last few months to finalize a fight that is estimated to be worth north of $250 million.
"It's going to a great fight,” Arum said. “We are confident our fighter, Manny Pacquiao, will emerge victorious.”
A key moment in negotiations was a chance meeting between Mayweather and Pacquiao last month. Both fighters were in South Florida attending a Heat game. The two had a brief meeting during the game and met again for an hour at Pacquiao’s hotel afterwards.
"I am glad my decision to meet with Manny and discuss making this fight happen helped get the deal done,” Mayweather said. "Giving the fans what they want to see is always my main focus. This will be the biggest event in the history of the sport. Boxing fans and sports fans around the world will witness greatness on May 2. I am the best ever, TBE, and this fight will be another opportunity to showcase my skills and do what I do best, which is win. Manny is going to try to do what 47 before him failed to do, but he won't be successful. He will be number 48.”
Mayweather will be the A-side of the fight in every possible way. He will get a 60 percent split of the revenue. His name will be first—"Mayweather-Pacquiao"—on the fight bill. He will walk to the ring second and be introduced second. Both fighters will choose their respective gloves, according to a source. Pacquiao will wear eight-ounce Reyes gloves; Mayweather will wear eight-ounce Grant gloves.
The MGM Grand has been home to Mayweather’s last ten fights; Pacquiao has fought five of his last seven fights there. While both fighters felt comfortable there, Top Rank, Pacquiao’s promoter, wanted to open up the bidding to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who hosted two Pacquiao fights at Cowboys Stadium in 2010. Mayweather had no interest in fighting in Texas, according to a source, and Jones was never able to submit an offer.
Mayweather Promotions will be the lead promoter of the fight, according to industry sources. That distinction means Mayweather will have final say in event planning, from the press conferences to the in-arena entertainment
The fight will be a joint pay per view between Showtime and HBO. It will represent the first time the two rival networks have collaborated for a fight since Lennox Lewis’s heavyweight title defense against Mike Tyson in 2002. According to sources, the broadcast team for the fight will be Jim Lampley, Al Bernstein and Roy Jones, with Max Kellerman and Jim Gray reporting from the locker rooms. Lampley, the face of HBO Boxing who has been critical of Mayweather in recent years, was a point of contention for Mayweather’s team during the negotiations.
Ultimately, HBO prevailed and Lampley, the best boxing play by play man of this generation, was assigned the blow-by-blow duties. James Brown and Paulie Malignaggi, Showtime’s regular analyst, will host the pre-fight show.
“This is the biggest boxing event of all time, we’re confident of that,” said Ken Hershman, president of HBO Sports. “We couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it and help craft it.”
As part of the agreement, Showtime will run the production of the show.
Said Showtime Sports Vice President Stephen Espinoza, “We’re thrilled to be a part of what we expect to be a record-breaking event. This deal is a product of a lot of hard work with some blood, sweat and tears along the way. We believed this day would come, we worked hard to make it happen and we’re thrilled that it is here.”