Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao

Pacquiao Mayweather Fight: Is This Boxing’s Last Hope?

The Pacquiao-Mayweather bout tonight has a lot riding on it, like the future of boxing itself. The long awaited matchup between Mayweather and Pacquiao could be boxing’s last hope to win the hearts and minds of sporting fans again, The Washington Post reports.

“Mayweather-Pacquiao will capture the attention of a lot of people who don’t normally watch boxing,” said Stephen Espinoza, the head of Showtime Sports “If their interest is piqued, it’s the responsibility of all of us who work in boxing to capitalize on that over the next few months and convert those casual fans into regular fans.”

An effort to turn casual fans into lifelong fans is especially critical at this point in the sport’s history. The Pacquiao-Mayweather bout is the first boxing spectacle that features two boxing stars who are household names. Mayweather is known as much for his domestic violence charges and outrageous spending habits, as for his moves in the ring. Pacquiao, on the other hand, has the pride of an entire country on his back. The last time a bout had this much star power, Mike Tyson was fighting Lennox Lewis in 2002.

The truth is that boxing has faded to the periphery of the American sports fan’s attention. Though more violent, Mixed Martial Arts has taken center stage making traditional boxing matches look like a thing of the past. A thing of the past that dwindling numbers of people have wanted to pay to watch until now.

“What happens in the next two or three years is, in my view, going to strongly impact what happens for the next 10 to 20 years,” said Jim Lampley, veteran HBO sports commentator. “I don’t see another transformation of this size and this depth coming in the near future.”

If the fact that people are willing to dig deep into their pockets to pay for tickets is any indication, boxing’s future is in great shape.

According to the New Yorker, when the 500 Paquiao Mayweather tickets allotted to the public went on sale on Thursday April 23, the cheapest printed price was $1500. Those sold out in seconds.

The remaining 15,500 went to people who are connected to the promoters or the casino in some way. Many of these tickets ended up on resale sites like StubHub, which made tickets easy to find but not any cheaper. On April 23 the cheapest Paquiao Mayweather ticket cost $5400 on StubHub.

The challenge that faces the boxing industry is to ensure that this type of interest is sustained throughout the year. The need to keep fans buying tickets or pay per view programs. That’s hard to do in a sport that has few stars other than Paquiao and Mayweather.

The Pacquio Mayweather fight throws its first jab tonight at 9:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm PST, with a live red carpet show beginning at 8 EST.

[Photo via Philstar]