Rematch of the century?
The video was quick, less than 50 seconds on Instagram. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his posse crossed paths with Manny Pacquiao and his entourage and the two exchanged a few words.
Both were in an event in Japan and the loud music drowned out a lot of the exchange. In the video, which the undefeated American boxer posted on his Instagram account, Mayweather can be heard saying: “I’m coming back” and Pacquiao repeatedly answering “I’ve got the belt.”
That alone would have lit the social media feeds of boxing fans. The caption that accompanied it, though, set the rumor mill on fire.
“I’m coming back to fight Manny Pacquiao this year another 9 figure pay day on the way @mayweatherpromotions,” wrote Mayweather.
The post garnered more than 100,000 likes and 1,300 comments in just 20 minutes, underscoring the drawing power of both boxing superstars, who are generally considered the best of their era and the most influential fighters of their generation.
Do a little digging and you’ll get to a video posted by boxing journalist Lance Pugmire on YouTube, where Mayweather was even more explicit.
In the video, Mayweather is hamming it up with boxing manager and matchmaker Sean Gibbons, with the latter goading him about going after win No. 51 and referencing Wanheng Menayothin, the Thai fighter who one-upped Mayweather by hiking his record to 51-0 after beating Filipino Pedro Taduran.
Gibbons was in the midst of talking about Menayothin, who has never fought outside of Thailand, when Mayweather interrupted him. The two went on an exchange that ended with “Money” laying the challenge for Pacquiao.
“We’re gonna take the belt, we’re gonna get the payday and I don’t want no shoulder excuses,” Mayweather said.
And while the whole episode was titillating enough to tickle boxing fans’ fancy or, at the very least, induce rounds of debate on whether it would make for palatable viewing, there was little confirmation on whether Mayweather was serious or this was just another outlandish PR stunt.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, could not be reached for comment at press time.
But it proves Mayweather’s flair and showmanship as a promoter. With Pacquiao-Mayweather 1, sold by both camps as the “Fight of the Century,” panned by critics and boxing purists as the fight that was five years past its shelf life when it was finally held in Las Vegas in 2015, the only way to generate a lucrative “Rematch of the Century” would be to start promoting it early.
Pacquiao has said he would fight one more time this year, targeting a December playdate.
Despite their first fight failing to meet boxing expectations—there was little slam-bang action from two of the best welterweights of all time and Pacquiao complained of a shoulder injury later—it was the richest bout in history until Mayweather tangled with UFC star Conor McGregor in a crossover duel.
If Mayweather, indeed, signs up to fight Pacquiao, who has been clamoring for a rematch, and hopes to get within sniffing distance of what he earned against McGregor, he’ll have to start promoting early—which may exactly be what he’s doing.
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