By Keith Idec
Stephen A. Smith is one of only two media members with whom Floyd Mayweather Jr. is known to speak with any regularity.
Smith spoke with Mayweather earlier this week about potentially boxing UFC star Conor McGregor, among other things. The sense Smith gets from Mayweather is that the retired superstar would come out of retirement to fight Manny Pacquiao again.
“I think he is content with retirement,” Smith told BoxingScene.com. “But I think he’s a businessman who loves making as much money as he can. And I don’t think he wants any part of the Errol Spences of the world and young lions on the come-up, because he’s been through that stage in his career. But I think a rematch with Manny Pacquiao, if he can get another nine figures, regardless of what he says, I think it’s something that he would entertain.”
Smith will be part of Bob Arum’s broadcast team, along with ex-ESPN boxing analyst Brian Kenny and former two-division champion Timothy Bradley, for the pay-per-view show that’ll feature Pacquiao’s fight against WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) on November 5 at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. His prominent position at ESPN, for which Smith co-hosts “First Take” five days per week with HBO Sports boxing analyst Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim, affords Smith a far-reaching platform to discuss Pacquiao-Vargas, a Mayweather-Pacquiao rematch and boxing in general.
The realistic possibility of a Mayweather-Pacquiao rematch is slowly but surely gaining traction within the boxing industry, despite that the incomparably hyped showdown disappointed casual and hardcore fans alike in May 2015. A rematch is unlikely to equal the record 4.6 million buys generated by their first fight, which produced more than $600 million in overall revenue, yet Mayweather-Pacquiao II remains by far the most profitable boxing match that can be made in 2017.
Smith thinks even frustrated fight fans ultimately would grow interested in Mayweather, who retired a year ago, opposing Pacquiao again.
“I think that your initial inclination is, ‘No way in hell am I gonna pay $99 for a pay-per-view,’ ” Smith said. “I think, however, the fact that Manny Pacquiao kept talking about his hurt shoulder prior to the fight, if [Pacquiao] wins this [Vargas] fight and a couple of more fights in spectacular fashion over the next few months, I can conceive Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather coming out of retirement, if the money is right, to fight Manny Pacquiao. I can see that happening.”
The 39-year-old Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs), a Las Vegas resident raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the Philippines’ Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) earned nearly $400 million combined for their first fight.
Mayweather walked out of MGM Grand Garden Arena that night with a check for $100 million. Pacquiao’s guarantee on fight night came in the form of a $75 million check.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.