I knew things had completely gone off the rails when David Hasselhoff showed up with a microphone. No, he wasn’t shirtless and requesting a cheeseburger.
Five years to the day after Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao staged the richest fight and one of the grandest spectacles in boxing history, what remains is the idea that hype outside a ring can far surpass what occurs in one.
Meaning, the fight was as exciting as CSPAN-3.
There was reason for that, and it was more than a shoulder Pacquiao reportedly re-injured in the fourth round of his unanimous decision loss at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The matchup that happened five years ago was five years too late. Mayweather was 38 when the bell finally rang; Pacquiao 36. The camps had negotiated a potential fight in 2010, but disagreements about purse splits and drug testing and other contractual items proved too big a hurdle.
Most importantly, Pacquiao was lethal then. Mayweather undoubtedly thought it best to wait him out.
It didn’t stop records from being set in 2015 for pay-per-view buys (4.6 million) and revenue ($410 million). The fight generated $600 million and didn’t stop half the households in the Philippines from tuning in to watch their favored son.
Didn’t stop a global contingent of media — from the sports world, the entertainment world, the hard news world, every world — descending on Las Vegas for a weeklong appetizer that led to the main course.
Amazing. The cheese tray tasted much better than the surf-and-turf.
It was more crazed than you might ever imagine a mega fight. Two of history’s great welterweights took supporting roles to A-list celebrities and high-rollers. The town wasn’t just buzzing. It was a constant megaphone of madness.
It’s estimated that 100,000 people arrived to Las Vegas without tickets to the fight. Folks were charged $10 to attend the weigh-in and 10,000 did so.
The fight sold out in a minute. Some resales went for $250,000.
There wasn’t a hotel or restaurant (or strip club) not at capacity.
It landed on the day American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby en route to a Triple Crown. But hours before Mayweather-Pacquiao, you would have thought a Run for the Roses was a restricted stakes race at Del Mar.
Trash talking was left mostly to trainers and thank goodness for it. Few spin gems in the manner of Floyd Mayweather Sr., whose prose regarding Pacquiao cornerman Freddie Roach was a classic pre-fight offering:
“Freddie Roach is a joke,” Senior said. “Coach Roach, wouldn’t dare to approach, a roach with no hope. Manny has moved from first class to coach with the roach and now he will be sprayed with Raid and underpaid. At the end of the night, his title will be gone. I will smash Coach Roach. He should be in the Hall of Shame and not the Hall of Fame.”
There is nobody like Senior on fight week. Or most others.
Let it lie
Justin Bieber ran on stage at the final press conference and chest-bumped his good friend Mayweather Jr. For some reason, Hasselhoff was doing his best Larry King impersonation. Reporters from Tokyo streamed live shots back home and weren’t at all bothered that those Americans they asked questions of didn’t understand or speak a word of Japanese.
Kliff Kingsbury was head football coach at Texas Tech and not relaxing in palatial Arizona digs wearing loafers with no socks. Still, many wondered why in the world the Ryan Gosling lookalike was at workouts clutching a TMT (The Money Team) hat and in town to recruit the son of one of Mayweather’s bodyguards.
There were notable storylines before and after. The perceived villain (Mayweather) against the philanthropist (Pacquiao). Mayweather’s camp pulling credentials from CNN and ESPN and USA Today reporters f(which it denied) for having been critical of its fighter’s domestic violence record. The class-action lawsuit by PPV subscribers upset Pacquiao didn’t disclose his shoulder issues until three hours before the fight.
And when the bell rang, what had been so universally anticipated fell flat.
There have been constant rumors of a rematch, that Mayweather would take his 50-0 record out of retirement to face a Pacquiao who, at the age of 40, impressively beat Keith Thurman last July.
Suggestion: Leave things where they are. When one of the more intriguing subjects in such a boxing extravaganza is the guy from “Baywatch,” better to let this lie.
One historic con job is enough.
Contact columnist Ed Graney at email@example.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.