Last month during the Cable Show an MSO executive asked me if there were any boxing matchups among the sport’s champions and top contenders that could draw one million pay-per-view buys. At the time I said only if Floyd Mayweather Jr. comes out of retirement and fights Manny Pacquiao.
Well, that dream scenario is closer to becoming a reality as Mayweather Saturday announced his return to the ring after an 11-month “retirement” to fight Juan Manuel Marquez July 18. The announcement came hours before Pacquiao quickly dispatched of Hatton in the second round of their big PPV fight last night.
While Pacquiao said he will take some time off – Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum even mention the Philippines-born fighter is planning to appear in a movie – Mayweather is anxious to reclaim the pound-for-pound title that Pacquiao unquestionably earned by destroying Hatton.
Pacquiao floored Hatton twice in the first round before landing a knockout left hook to the British fighter’s jaw toward the end of the second round.
”Manny Pacquiao gave an electrifying performance which surely will leave boxing fans yearning for more,” said HBO PPV’s Mark Taffet in an e-mail after the fight. “Add to this the Mayweather vs Marquez pay-per-view matchup on July 18, as well as stars like (Miguel) Cotto and (Shane) Mosley, and you have to be excited about the sport.”
If Mayweather can return to his unbeaten boxing form inside the ring and maintain his box office appeal outside the ropes (his May 2007 fight with Oscar De La Hoya drew a record $134 million in PPV revenue) then a potential late fall/early winter matchup with Pacquiao could drop some much needed PPV cash into operator’s pockets – particularly since HBO has said it is scaling back its PPV boxing offerings to about three or four events in 2009.
The fight would also provide boxing fans with a mega event that only last month seemed more wishful thinking than realistically possible.
By no means is the fight a done deal. But given the difficult economic environment distributors are facing, a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight would be PPV boxing dream come true for the industry.