By Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Conventional wisdom within the boxing industry is that if Manny Pacquiao defeats Adrien Broner, a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. is inevitable later this year.
Stephen Espinoza has much more insight into that situation than most, and the Showtime executive isn’t so sure Mayweather-Pacquiao II will happen if Pacquiao beats Broner on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Mayweather, who’ll turn 42 on February 24, would have to end a third retirement to oppose Pacquiao again.
“Manny has made no secret of the fact that if he beats Broner, he wants a rematch versus Floyd,” Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, told BoxingScene.com. “There’s no question on that. Floyd seems a little bit more torn. There certainly was their encounter in Tokyo last fall, which got everyone buzzing. But we also heard him a couple weeks ago, again in Tokyo, saying, ‘Look, I’m retired.’ So, I’m not sure it’s a foregone conclusion.”
Mayweather and Pacquiao caused a social media firestorm the morning of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin rematch four months ago. After meeting at a concert in Tokyo, Mayweather posted a video of their light-hearted encounter through his Instagram account.
Mayweather seemed committed to a rematch then. Following his three-knockdown, first-round demolition of Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, however, Mayweather firmly stated that he’s retired.
His victory over the 20-year-old Nasukawa came in a boxing exhibition December 31 in Saitama, Japan, not an official fight.
Mayweather made well over $200 million for his unanimous-decision defeat of Pacquiao in May 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Their fight was a huge financial success, as it generated more than $600 million in overall revenue.
It amounted to a boring bout that made consumers complain about a lack of action for a pay-per-view main event that cost $100. Furious fans also were dissatisfied with Pacquiao’s contention that a pre-existing shoulder injury hindered him in their 12-round, 147-pound title fight.
Las Vegas’ Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) and the Philippines’ Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) would make plenty of money if they fought again. That still might not be enough, according to Espinoza, to make Mayweather commit to doing it.
“I think Floyd likes the idea of a rematch and being in another big event, and certainly is attracted by what he would earn in that fight,” Espinoza said. “But at the same time, I think there is a big portion of Floyd that is satisfied with what he accomplished in his career and he doesn’t particularly feel a need to go back into camp and do it all over again.
“So, from Floyd’s perspective, it’s up in the air. I think there is interest, but at the end of the day, Floyd is tough to predict. He is his own man. He’s gonna do it his way, and I think it will be sort of how he feels. Maybe, you know, what’s in his head on January 20th and after that.”
The 40-year-old Pacquiao and Cincinnati’s Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) will headline a four-fight Showtime Pay-Per-View telecast Saturday night from MGM Grand Garden Arena. It is set to start at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, and costs $74.99 to watch through most cable and satellite operators.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.