Meeting at Miami Heat game between Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao paved way for May 2 fight

Floyd Mayweather, left, and Manny Pacquiao, right, attended the Miami Heat's game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 27, 2015.
Floyd Mayweather, left, and Manny Pacquiao, right, attended the Miami Heat's game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 27, 2015. El Nuevo Herald

Former President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to the remote location of Reykjavik, Iceland for the beginning of summits between the two leaders in 1986 that eventually ended the Cold War.

It pales in comparison and historical significance but Miami perhaps became the setting that closed boxing’s Cold War.

When Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao met briefly during a Miami Heat game at AmericanAirlines Arena on Jan. 27, it seemed to reduce a protracted tension, resulting with Friday’s announcement of the fight everyone in the boxing universe has clamored for six years.

The prolonged tease is finally over. After years of agreements, rejections and back and forth squabbles from both fighters’ camps, Mayweather and Pacquiao will fight May 2 in Las Vegas. The welterweight title fight between boxing’s two most popular fighters and pound-for-pound kingpins is expected to break pay-per-view records and will provide the sport — at least temporarily — mainstream acceptance.

Not since an aging Mike Tyson challenged Lennox Lewis for the heavyweight title in 2002 and Mayweather crossed into pay-per-view stardom with his fight against Oscar De La Hoya five years later will boxing receive endless attention.

“This is the biggest boxing event of all time, we’re confident of that,” said Ken Hershman, president of HBO Sports.

The fight’s impact resulted in an agreement between HBO and Showtime to jointly televise the event. HBO broadcasts Pacquiao’s fights and Mayweather is currently under a six-fight deal with Showtime.

When Mayweather made the fight’s announcement official and showed a photo of the signed contracts on social media, it opened the hype that will continue for the next 10 weeks.

Prepare for the multi-city promotional tour featuring both fighters. And in that tour, expect a likely stop in Miami, where Mayweather and Pacquiao met face-to-face for the first time, exchanged phone numbers and later continued their conversation at a local hotel.

“The meeting between Floyd and Manny at the Miami Heat game certainly greased the wheels in getting through the final stages of the process,” said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice-president of Showtime Sports.


▪ The recent announcement that NBC and CBS will resume live boxing broadcasts after long absences, bring to light how Telemundo has kept the sport available to fans without access to cable or premium network television.

While the three major TV networks turned off the switch to boxing more than a decade ago, Telemundo remained the only over-the-air outlet that consistently televised fights. On March 6, the Spanish-language network will begin its 26th year of boxing telecasts with a show from the Civic Center in Kissimmee.

Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Oquendo and Mexico’s Gabino Cota will fight for a regional featherweight belt in the televised main event of a card promoted by All-Star Boxing.

“We are delighted to provide fans another year of competitive fights,” said All-Star Boxing president Felix “Tutico” Zabala Jr., whose company has promoted Telemundo-televised fights since 2001. “Telemundo has always had the boxing fan in mind, especially during a time when you could only find most of the fights on cable.”

As in the previous two years, Telemundo’s shows will be on a seasonal format. The March 6 telecast is the first of four successive Friday night spring broadcasts. Telemundo will feature similar four-week airings in the summer and fall.

▪ Miami-based fighters fared with mixed results in their bouts during a card Friday night in Pittsburgh.

Middleweight Yudel Jhonson and featherweight Claudio Marrero won decisions against Pablo Munguia and Orlando Rizo, respectively. Light-heavyweight Humberto Savigne suffered a second-round TKO loss against Craig Baker.

Coming up

Friday (9 p.m., ESPN2): Cletus Seldin vs. Johnny Garcia, 10, junior welterweights.

Friday (10:30 p.m., Fox Sports1): Pablo Cesar Cano vs. Juan Carlos Abreu, 10, welterweights.

Saturday (11 p.m., Unimas): Juan Rodriguez vs. Raul Tovar, 8, junior welterweights.

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