Tuesday, April 21, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Boxing’s fight of the decade, century, or whatever fans want to label it, is inching closer with each day. The prefight hype has reached never-seen-before levels and it’s still more than a week away.
At the MGM Grand, where Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will finally meet May 2 in the mega-fight that took five-plus years to coordinate, it already feels like fight week.
Last Saturday, two weeks to the day of the fight, visitors at the MGM patiently waited to snap a photo in front of a makeshift boxing ring installed in the lobby to promote the fight. Pictures of the fighters are prominently displayed around the ring, casino floor, parking garage and other parts of the property to symbolize the craziness of the prefight hype.
The anticipation has surpassed Mayweather’s 2007 fight with Oscar De La Hoya, or one of those Mike Tyson fights in the 1990s.
“More people are interested and informed about this fight now than they would’ve been five years ago,” Pacquiao said last week.
Here are some signs this fight has reached new heights:
• Details on tickets still haven’t been released and some feel they won’t be made available to the public. Tickets would instead be given to high-rollers of MGM properties and sold for thousands by brokers. Regardless, tickets haven’t been printed for sale, something that has never happened this late in the process.
• A-list celebrities will receive tickets, but reportedly only if they wear apparel from sponsors. Some reports have ringside seats valued at six figures.
• Pacquiao was supposed to talk with media Monday on a conference call, but it was canceled after the first question because his handlers at Top Rank sensed nontraditional fight media would dominate the session with nonfight-related questions, according to Yahoo Sports.
• One offshore sports book has a wager on the number of pay-per-view buys. It’s set a 3.15 million at 5Dimes, which would shatter the 2.4 million buys of De La Hoya-Mayweather in 2007. The pay-per-view is $100 for high definition.
• Mayweather will wear a $25,000 mouthpiece with pieces of a bill $100 bill in the middle.
• About one-third of the MGM gift shop has fight apparel, mostly shirts and hats for Mayweather’s The Money Team brand, with prices as high as $88 for a leather hat.
The craziness could be considered a distraction, but both fighters claim they aren’t bothered and their training camps are business as usual. The hype may be equally crazy — it’s been five years, after all — but it sure beats the alternative of no fight at all.
“This isn’t my first dance,” Mayweather said last week.