After nearly six years, the maddening soap opera between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will culminate inside the ring on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Depending on your perspective, it will be the most important fight boxing has seen in 30 years (if not more) and clearly one of the biggest stories in all of sports.
Like a jaded lover protecting our heart from being hurt yet again, we’ve convinced ourselves at numerous times in recent years that we just don’t care anymore or that we’ve emotionally moved on.
But we are liars. All of us. You know it, I know it and so does the mixture of hard-core and casual fans expected to purchase more than 3 million pay-per-view buys come fight night.
And while on the subject of lies, allow me to expose one more. It has been exhaled with disgust each time our collective levels of optimism were piqued in recent weeks. It goes like this: Too bad the fight is about five years too late.
It’s a theory that appeared true at various points in recent years, including most of 2013, when Pacquiao was forced to rebuild his stock after suffering consecutive defeats the previous year (including one by a brutal, one-punch knockout). Yet there’s an element of destiny and fate associated with this fight that has allowed it to persevere through time, defeats, egos and the complications of boxing politics.
Would it have been epic, if not preferred, to have seen Mayweather and Pacquiao square off in early 2010, when they were at the peak of their respective primes? Without question.
But that doesn’t mean this fight is taking place too late. In fact, if you ask me, it’s right on time.
While we had an inkling of how good Mayweather and Pacquiao were from a historical standpoint by 2009, we didn’t yet know how great. And despite how excruciating the recent years have been (not to mention the negative impact it had on the sport), the absurdity of this fight taking so long to happen has only added to the anticipation.
This isn’t just a welterweight unification bout between the two biggest stars in boxing. It’s a matchup between the undisputed best fighters of their division, the sport -- and most important -- their era.
This fight represents the missing piece to the legacies of both boxers, and how we will remember this chapter of boxing history for years to come.
Simply put: This fight is bigger right now than it ever could have been, with the journey it took to get here serving as basically a five-year promotion.
Despite their combined age of 74 come fight night, this also isn’t exclusively a money grab between two aging fighters. Yes, we might be seeing this fight only in large part because both had run out of opponents capable of drawing anything close to this much revenue. But it’s still a legitimate pairing between the top two pound-for-pound best in the sport.
That’s why merely thinking about this fight taking place brings me back to words such as "fate" and "destiny." For all intents and purposes, this event shouldn’t still mean this much or have this much at stake. But, almost inexplicably, it does.
Boxing in general and the wallets of both fighters are lucky in that regard. And while it would be almost impossible for the actual fight to live up to the hype that will surround this event, I have a sneaky feeling it just might.
Mayweather and Pacquiao are as evenly matched right now as they ever have been. And sometimes throughout history, when you match a pair of aging legends who have slipped just a bit from their peak form, you get something truly special.
Even the unparalleled stubbornness of everyone involved couldn’t stop this fight from happening. And one could argue that boxing has never needed it more than it does right now.