An anniversary can be cause for looking back to fond memories, which for those who profited from the May 2, 2015, Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight would be the $600-million plus grossed by the event and the record 4.6 million pay-per-view buys that generated $437 million in sales.
After Mayweather (49-0) defeated Pacquiao by a convincing unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, he added one more boxing display, beating Andre Berto in September, then announced he was retiring. Mayweather turned 39 in February.
Pacquiao, 37, came back April 9 from shoulder surgery, required after a training-camp injury he said weakened his performance against Mayweather, and defeated Timothy Bradley by unanimous decision. He then also announced he was leaving the sport for a May 9 election bid to join the Philippines Senate.
And is there a better fight to complement the more than $400 million he banked one year ago than Mayweather-Pacquiao II?
“Everyone is asking me if Floyd Mayweather is coming back, ... I’ve been talking with CBS and Showtime and you just never know,” Mayweather told Showtime’s Jim Gray. “Some crazy numbers have been thrown my way, upwards of nine figures. ... I’m taking my time. I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
Though Mayweather said he’s currently “happy helping fighters” -- like world champion super-middleweight Badou Jack, who he promotes -- he smiled widely when Gray said, “You’re opening the door now ... .”
Gray didn’t ask Mayweather about Pacquiao or middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who’s set to fight England’s Amir Khan on Saturday.
Mayweather attended unbeaten welterweight champion Danny Garcia’s victory over Robert Guerrero in January at Staples Center in which Garcia claimed Mayweather’s former World Boxing Council belt.
“Undefeated champion in two weight classes, very exciting fighter,” Mayweather said of Garcia.
Mayweather would be favored to defeat either Garcia or Pacquiao, with each bout providing the opportunity to reach 50-0 -- one better than the late heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano’s record.
Gray asked Mayweather if he’d come back for the money or to become 50-0. “For both,” he said. “It’d have to be a nine-figure pay day.”
It’s unlikely a bout with Garcia could generate that kind of interest, and even though there’s been resentment about how Mayweather-Pacquiao I played out with the shoulder injury, a Pacquiao disclaimer that, “I was hurt,” could prove persuasive.
Showtime executive vice president Stephen Espinoza said Monday, “If [Mayweather] decides to come back, I think he will look for the opponent who provides the biggest challenge and the biggest event -- biggest challenge meaning physically, psychologically, boxing-wise; biggest event in terms of promotion, publicity and financial results.
“The answer is not easy. Some of the more difficult opponents in the welterweight division are relatively unknown in terms of pay-per-view commodities. It’s still wide open.
“In order for any of this to have meaning, we have to hear from Floyd that he is interested in coming back. ... Hold off on booking the flights to Vegas. ... Everything we’ve heard is he’s not quite at that point [of coming back] yet. Clearly, it’s crossed his mind.”
Pacquiao has maintained steadfast devotion to a pursuit of public service since beating Bradley, but once the election is over, would he really say no to an interested Mayweather?
Consider: Mayweather-Pacquiao I was the greatest single-day sporting event in social media last year, it led Showtime and HBO to work together, had a red-carpet media day, generated more than 800 media credentials and, despite a ticket snafu orchestrated by Mayweather manager Al Haymon, it was a star-studded fight night beyond what’s been seen in a generation.
But Espinoza noted that Mayweather in the days after his victory posted a video showing him predicting in 2009 that he would dominate Pacquiao -- and that the masses would rail about a boring fight. That is, after all, how Mayweather typically wins.
“He was more confident than anyone on his team,” Espinoza said.
Making Mayweather-Pacquiao required a lot of moving parts to fall into place, but perhaps none was more important, Espinoza said, than the fighters’ chance January 2015 encounter at a Miami Heat-Milwaukee Bucks game in Miami, which spawned a late-night hotel room meeting.
“Floyd and Manny had a heart-to-heart about their true desire to make this happen. Those two walked away knowing the other really wanted the fight,” said Espinoza, who was brought into the session for a 10-minute FaceTime chat.
“They cut through the messiness.”
Judging from Mayweather’s comments, don’t be stunned if they attempt to do it again.