Fight of the Century? Not quite.
ESPN is promoting today as the greatest day of sports this year.
Kentucky Derby? Horse racing has lost its prestige, but the Run for the Roses is still the world’s most prestigious race. NBA playoffs? Game 7 between the Spurs and Clippers should be entertaining. NHL playoffs? The Rangers face a must win at home today vs. the Capitals, and the Ducks will probably go up 2-0 on the Flames. Third day of the NFL draft? Take it or leave it.
Oh yeah, there’s a fight in Las Vegas. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you’ve been smart enough to avoid all forms of media, or at least turned off the TV when mention of the bout begins. I bristle at the idea that the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao duel is the “Fight of the Century”.
First, Pacquio’s best days are well behind him. Less than three years ago, he was knocked out in the sixth round by an undistinguished fighter, Juan Manuel Marquez.
Second, Mayweather may be a great fighter, as evidenced by his 47-0 record, but he’s a turd outside the ring. I have zero respect, and in fact, great enmity, for anyone who would commit domestic violence. Even worse, Mayweather has been convicted on multiple occasions, serving 90 days in jail during the summer of 2012 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and thus avoiding felony chargers.
Mayweather may be 47-0, two wins shy of Rocky Marciano’s career record, but Mayweather has been able to cherry pick his bouts, taking more than 18 years to build that mark. Marciano won 49 fights in less than nine years.
I wasn’t alive to witness it, but from all I’ve read and what I’ve watched on ESPN Classic, there is only one Fight of the Century, Joe Frazier’s 15 round unanimous decision over Muhammad Ali to retain the world’s heavyweight championship on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The hype for that fight was remarkable, one of the most hyped sporting events in the era before cable television, but unlike numerous boxing matches, this fight lived up to the hype and then some.
I would put THREE Ali bouts ahead of anything Mayweather-Pacquiao could offer. I would also have to rank the third Ali-Frazier fight in 1975 in Manila and Ali’s 8th round knockout of George Foreman in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1974 higher. Another one I would rank higher is No Mas, the 1980 fight in the Superdome between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran.
To me, boxing hasn’t mattered since the evening of April 6, 1987, when Leonard surprised Marvelous Marvin Hagler in a 12 round split decision to win the middleweight championship. The fight was on pay-per-view, but I remember the reports before and after, and the wrapup the next morning on SportsCenter before I went to school.
I read an article online on the Kansas City Star website where the top tickets for the bout were going for $115,000. That’s not a typo. ONE HUNDRED FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. Bob Arum, the president of Top Rank Promotions, said he would not offer ringside seats to anyone who did not have a minimum credit line of $250,000 with MGM, which is hosting the fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
For the price of a ringside seat at the fight, you could buy 82 tickets to Super Bowl 50. And not nosebleed end zone seats. GOOD seats.
By comparison, the top price for a seat at the Ali-Frazier fight in 1971 went for a mere $150, a lot of money back then. By comparison, tickets for Super Bowl V, held two months earlier in Miami, carried a $20 face value. The most expensive Ali-Frazier ticket of 1971 would translate to $870 today. You couldn’t sniff the parking lot for $870 for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Prices for the worst seat start at $4,500.
I also did some reverse calculation. One hundred fifteen thousand in 2015 was a little less than $20,000 in 1971. For that price, you could have purchased 992 tickets to Super Bowl V.
Even if you want to watch the fight at home, it will cost $90 to $100. Way too much for me. Way, way too much for a fight which I doubt will come anywhere close to the hype.