The boxing world has been waiting nearly six years for Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to fight.
Since 2009 there have been several negotiations to get the top two pound-for-pound boxers in the world to fight, but money, drug testing, and ego issues have gotten in the way.
Finally, in 2015, the two fighters made real progress on a potential megafight, thanks in part to a meeting at an NBA game.
SI’s Chris Mannix and Greg Bishop broke down the making of the fight and tell the story of how Mayweather purposely arranged to meet Manny Pacquiao at a Miami Heat-Milwaukee Bucks game in January 2015.
The meet-up has long thought to have been coincidental. ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported at the time that both fighters were sitting courtside at the game and spoke at halftime. Though Rafael notes that CBS chairman Les Moonves was negotiating with both boxers’ camps about a May 2 fight at the time, Rafael described the meetup as “unexpected” and quoted Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz as saying it was “purely coincidental.”
However, Mannix and Bishop say the meeting was planned, at least on Mayweather’s part.
On January 26, the day before the Bucks-Heat game, Mayweather told members of his entourage to travel to Las Vegas where he’d later meet them. Once they got there, they got a late text message from Mayweather telling them to pack their bags for Miami. Though they didn’t initially know why, he later told them they were going to the Heat game.
One of Mayweather’s bodyguards, Alonso Ridic, told Mannix and Bishop, “Halftime, boom, whistle blows, floor clears. Floyd gets up and walks right over to Pacquiao. Didn’t even say a word.”
It was the first time they have met.
Pictures began circling around social media:
Pacquiao and Mayweather spoke, exchanged phone numbers, and agreed to meet up later. They met later at Pacquiao’s hotel room and began discussing details, with both sides reportedly excited about the other’s enthusiasm.
Mayweather told Mannix and Bishop, “That’s the reason the fight happened.”
Of course, at the same time, Moonves was negotiating the details with both camps, including helping HBO (partner’s with Pacquiao’s Top Rank) and Showtime (who signed Mayweather to a $US200 million deal in 2013) come to a joint pay-per-view deal.
But without clear intent from both boxers, and without Mayweather making plans to approach Pacquaio at the Heat game, it’s possible the fight would have been delayed longer, if not ruled out altogether.
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