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.
Last time, we looked at Floyd Mayweather's superstar making performance against Oscar De La Hoya, a fight that, admittedly, was much closer than my title "The Destruction of De La Hoya" indicated. Call it the Demise instead. Here, we move forward just seven months to Mayweather's next fight.
PART 3: MONEY WALKS
The fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton, December 8, 2007
The background: As we detailed last time, the win over Oscar De La Hoya propelled Mayweather from being "merely" the best boxer in the world to being both the best AND biggest boxer in the world. After the nearly 2.5 million buys for the De La Hoya fight, Floyd was on top of the world, but the king was getting restless. In the wake of that win, he publicly contemplated retirement, stating that he had nothing left to prove. But that was not to be, as he opted to return later that same year to take on massively popular British fighter Ricky Hatton. Both men were undefeated, and the bout seemed guaranteed to be a war.
The importance: This was Floyd fighting at the absolute height of everything - his skills, his popularity, the entire package. And he had a game opponent in Hatton, who it was widely speculated would make this a tough fight. Interestingly, the result was an uncharacteristically non-Mayweather kind of fight. Instead of the normal technical superiority shown by Mayweather, the pound for pound champ made this a rough, highly physical affair. Much of the fight was fought inside, with both men throwing heavy shots. Throughout, Mayweather controlled the action, badly damaging Hatton and ultimately handing him his first pro loss in the 10th round. It's an entertaining fight, and one that we don't normally see from Mayweather, but the real story here is what happened next.
The fallout: With Mayweather sitting on top of the mountain, the entire boxing world was at his feet. And so what did he do? He left. In the immediate aftermath of the Hatton fight, Floyd Mayweather, boxing's king, retired from the sport. That retirement would last 21 months before his return - a span of time that would see a new king rise to claim Mayweather's throne. A king that we all know well.
Next time: Pacquiao claims the crown
So what exactly was Mayweather up to from his 2007 retirement through his 2009 return? For one, he was focusing on becoming more of a behind the scenes boxing businessman. But if you think that meant he was giving up the spotlight at all, you would be dead wrong. Just for fun, here's one of his most high profile gigs from his retirement - a 2008 Wrestlemania match with the feared Big Show. Enjoy.
Join us at Bloody Elbow for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao coverage as we get ready for fight night, May 2, live on PPV.