On May 2, live on PPV, Floyd Mayweather faces Manny Pacquiao in what is being billed as boxing's Fight of the Century. It's a fight that has been in discussion for roughly seven years, and now it is finally upon us. In this Bloody Elbow series, we look at the history leading up to Mayweather vs Pacquiao by examining the key fights that have brought us to May 2. Today, we kick things off at the very beginning.
PART 1: THE DEBUT
The fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Roberto Apodaca; Oct. 11, 1996
The background: What better place to start than back at the very beginning? Here we have the professional debut of a young 19 year old by the name of Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather was already known to boxing hardcore fans as he was recently removed from representing the US in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta (Mayweather earned a Bronze medal at the games and is widely considered to have been robbed of the gold in an unfair decision.) Here, with his famous uncles Roger and Jeff Mayweather in his corner, the man then known as Pretty Boy Floyd makes his debut against the 2-1 Apodaca.
The importance: It's the start of the career of our generation's best fighter. Also, it's an interesting look into how Mayweather has evolved over the years. Fascinatingly, the announcers at one point state that while he can box, he is more of a power puncher looking to end things with a single heavy shot - a ridiculously far cry from the Mayweather who fights today. But even at 19 years old and making his debut, it's clear there's something here. As he stands victorious, the announcers declare that he just may be a future superstar. Truer words were never spoken.
The fallout: Mayweather of course would keep going on his winning ways, never once slowing down. Though his next fight was a 4 round decision win, he did indeed stop most early opponents, winning 13 of his first 15 fights by KO. Again, this may have just been the beginning, but clearly the seeds of Money Mayweather are there, just waiting to blossom.
Because he fought his early career in the Philippines, many of the early Pacquiao fights are not widely available. But to get a sense of young Pacquiao as compared to young Mayweather, here is an early Pacquiao outing. Though labeled as his first fight, this is actually his 8th as he takes on Renato Mendones in October of 1995. Pacquiao made his pro debut in January of that year and was extremely busy, putting together a 15-1 record by the time Mayweather made his own debut 21 months later. Pacquiao looks like he's about 12 years old in this fight, which alone makes it fascinating to watch. Also, much like Mayweather, you can clearly see that there is a superstar waiting to come out here.
Join us at Bloody Elbow for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao coverage as we get ready for fight night, May 2, live on PPV.