The Pacquiao-Cotto fight generated 1.25 million PPV purchases and $70 million in revenue, outdoing the Mayweather-Marquez fight which did a solid 1.05 million PPV buys.
The Pacquiao and Mayweather camps are negotiating the economics on a potential blockbuster fight, and the issue of how they should split the money is sure to be the biggest barrier to what promises to be a historic payday for all involved.
A 50/50 split may ultimately be the best compromise, but in terms of entertainment value, Pacquiao is far and away superior. I can't recall a single Mayweather fight I've ever paid for that didn't leave me feeling a bit robbed. To a greater extent than Roy Jones Jr., Mayweather is a technical fighter, a cautious one who gets in a few punches, then plays amazing defense. I'm not sure I've ever even seen Mayweather with a bruise on his face, perhaps justifying his nickname "Pretty Boy." You appreciate the skill, but it doesn't get the heart racing.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, has all the qualities to justify your PPV investment:
- He attacks. His instinct isn't to sneak in some flurries and then retreat. He isn't really a counterpuncher. Pacquiao's default mode is to move forward and attack, the way a car tends to pull hard to one side or the other if you let go of the steering wheel. Whatever the positive correlation between punch count (both thrown and landed) and victory, it's even stronger for punch count and entertainment value.
- He goes for the kill. A fighter like Mayweather can accumulate such a lead in rounds early on that the rest of the fight can be spent in defense. Pacquiao in his last several fights has sought the KO, and only Cotto's toughness and his switch to running around the ring kept him upright until the ref called it. Not since young Tyson have we had a fighter of such prominence who always smells blood in the water (go back and watch early Tyson; we may not ever see another fighter who was suited for only one style of boxing, the relentless max effort in pursuit of the round KO).
- He has a touch chin. Against Cotto, who matched him at weigh-in but probably outweighed him on fight night by at least 8 pounds, Pacquiao took some big left jabs and left hooks (the best punch for both fighters) and never seemed dazed. He didn't exactly exit the fight looking like he was going to do any magazine covers, but he didn't ever seem like he was at risk of going down. A boxer who takes some big punches adds to the drama of the fight.
- He has the power to do damage. Despite moving up 7 weight classes, Pacquiao was able to tenderize De La Hoya and Cotto's faces like Mario Batali working over a pork chop, and the only reason Hatton didn't look worse was that he got KO'd so early.
Here's my anecdotal evidence in support of Pacquiao's superiority over Mayweather in a purse split. I had lots of people over to my place to watch both Mayweather-Marquez and Pacquiao-Cotto. After the Mayweather fight, we were all so disappointed that I felt compelled to put on DVDs of fights from various martial arts movies to appease the bloodthirsty mob, so to speak. After the Pacquiao fight, the mob was satisfied, and we all drank wine and recounted the best moments from the fight.
I'm actually concerned that Pacquiao-Mayweather won't be as entertaining as Pacquiao's last several fights. I'd foresee Mayweather would be a slight favorite among experts given his unblemished track record and size advantage. You can see Mayweather tagging Pacquiao a few times, as fighters like Cotto have done, and then having the speed and elusiveness to just back off and win on points. The fight would go the distance, Pacquiao would be the crowd favorite, but Mayweather would win on points sending the crowd into outrage given Mayweather's tactics (I'd be at home trying to tear my plasma off the wall and throw it off my balcony).
In the post-fight interview, Larry Merchant would ask Mayweather point blank if he really deserved to win given his lack of aggression, followed by Mayweather punching Merchant out, grabbing the mike, and shouting to the crowd, "You all can kiss my ass!" Sugar Shane Mosely would then appear out of nowhere to clock Mayweather with a cheap shot, starting an all-out brawl in the ring, and Derek Jeter would spring out of his front row seat to enter the ring to play peacemaker.
Maybe I'm talking myself into the entertainment value of this fight after all.