LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The long awaited mega bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, which has been more than five years in the making, will take place in Las Vegas on May 2, Mayweather announced on Friday.
A duel between the defence-minded Mayweather and the aggressive Pacquiao, the biggest drawcards of their generation, has been savoured by boxing fans, if only to decide the mythical title of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter.
Showtime and HBO will jointly broadcast the bout, which is one of the most eagerly anticipated in boxing since the classic 1975 ‘Thrilla in Manila’ between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.
However, both Mayweather, 37, and Pacquiao, 36, are in the twilight of their respective careers and most pundits say they have lost some of their skills in the ring.
“What the world has been waiting for has arrived,” American Mayweather, who has a perfect record of 47-0 with 26 knockouts, said on the social networking website Shots. “Mayweather vs. Pacquiao on May 2, 2015 is a done deal.
“I promised the fans we would get this done, and we did. We will make history on May 2nd. Don’t miss it!”
Mayweather made a late-night trip to Pacquiao’s hotel in Miami last month to discuss the possibility of a showdown, and the Filipino southpaw, an eight-division world champion, signed the contract for the bout on Thursday.
“I am glad my decision to meet with Manny and discuss making this fight happen helped get the deal done,” Mayweather said in a statement. “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. I am the best ever ... 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.”
Pacquiao, who has a 57-5-2 record with 38 knockouts, said in a statement: “I am very happy that Floyd Mayweather and I can give the fans the fight they have wanted for so many years. They have waited long enough and they deserve it.
“It is an honour 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.”
A 60-40 SPLIT
The welterweight showdown in Vegas is projected to be the most lucrative ever in boxing with Mayweather expected to have a 60-40 split advantage on revenues, earning a minimum of $120 million and Pacquiao at least $80 million.
“Everyone involved, including Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, knows this fight simply had to happen,” Stephen Espinoza, general manager for Showtime Sports, said in a statement.
“All of us are thrilled to be able to deliver this event to boxing fans around the world.”
Pacquiao lost much of his appeal after successive defeats to American Timothy Bradley and Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, prompting talk of his possible retirement, though he has since bounced back with three impressive wins.
Five-division world champion Mayweather, who is known for his shrewd business acumen, had been expected to meet Pacquiao in 2010 until negotiations collapsed over the American’s demand for random drug testing.
Mayweather has hinted at illegal methods by often questioning how Pacquiao could have won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight classes.
Mayweather announced last September, after he scored a dominant win over Argentine Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas in his most recent bout, that he would retire in late 2015 when his Showtime contract ends, after two more fights.
Editing by Steve Keating