Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. reunited at an NBA game again Tuesday when the two greatest boxers of their era sat across the Staples Center court at the Clippers-Charlotte Hornets game.
With a possible rematch of their most lucrative prize fight in history buzzing, the situation bore great resemblance to their early 2015 joint attendance at a Miami Heat game.
After seeing each other there, Mayweather and Pacquiao huddled at a nearby hotel room, where each expressed their sincerity in making a fight that had built in anticipation since 2009. The 2015 bout generated more than $600 million, with Mayweather (50-0) claiming victory by unanimous decision.
Pacquiao labored with a sore left shoulder injured in training camp, and he underwent surgery after the bout.
While Mayweather claims he’s retired, even after a first-round knockout win in an exhibition in Japan where he earned $9 million on New Year’s Eve, Pacquiao has longed for a second chance.
He collected the World Boxing Assn. secondary welterweight belt in July, scoring his first knockout since 2009 by decking Lucas Matthysse in the sixth round in Malaysia.
On Tuesday’s Clippers Filipino Heritage Night, Pacquiao and Mayweather shook hands after Pacquiao was summoned to help Clippers mascot Chuck the Condor throw T-shirts to fans.
Pacquiao, showing off the healed shoulder, chucked a couple of shirts far into the crowd, then greeted Mayweather with a handshake before leaving at halftime.
Pacquiao is nearing the close of his training camp for his Jan. 19 title defense against former four-division champion Adrien Broner at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The bout will be televised on Showtime pay-per-view.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Monday, Pacquiao, 40, said he believes the Mayweather rematch happens by defeating Broner.
“That’s the thinking in my mind and my heart — that there will be another [Mayweather] fight.”
Mayweather downplayed the importance of the second NBA meeting, saying his eternal bond with Pacquiao isn’t any more special to him that of his ties to close friends.
“I’m retired. I’m not fighting anymore,” Mayweather told The Times, showing a news report on his phone of a nine-figure offer to fight again that he says he’s rejected.
When reminded that fans get thrilled when they see him and Pacquiao interact, Mayweather said, “When history is written, I will be remembered as the greatest fighter ever.”
The calls for a rematch will be fervent should Pacquiao perform well next week.
Sean Gibbons, the veteran boxing manager who was present when Mayweather and Pacquiao had a chance meeting at a concert in Japan last year, said the pair should meet again.
“I feel there’s unfinished business, but I’m not sure it’ll ever get settled because Floyd says he’s retired,” Gibbons said.