Thank God nobody is buying the Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather pay-per-view for the undercard. Because it’s bad. Really bad, even by the low, low standards of recent PPV undercards. Ah well, preview it we shall, along with the rest of the week’s boxing schedule, including a few televised bouts in Vegas taking advantage of the fight week crowd, as well as stuff from further afield. There’s also all the usual big fight media goings-on, including press conferences, the weigh-in, hype documentaries and more. Let’s get to it.
The Manny Pacquiao Vs. Floyd Mayweather Undercard
- Leo Santa Cruz vs. TBA. Junior featherweight brawler Santa Cruz (29-0-1, 17 KO) continues an uninspiring run of opponents by fighting, well, who knows? At the time of writing the most recent reports suggested he would fight Tijuana’s Jose Cayetano (17-3, 8 KO), a second or third tier fighter coming off a loss with no chance of winning. The day before it was reported Santa Cruz’s opponent would be similarly uninspiring Frenchman Anthony Settoul (20-3, 8 KO). Whoever it is, they’re not going to be any good and everyone’s going to roll their eyes.
- Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Gamalier Rodriguez. This fight is meant to make Ukrainian featherweight phenom Lomachenko (3-1, 1 KO) look good, and that’s what it’s going to do. Rodriguez (25-2-3, 17 KO), a sturdy fringe contender/journeyman will be good enough to put up a bit of a fight, giving Lomachenko the opportunity to show off his spectacular speed, footwork and body punching. (Lomachenko pictured above; Stephen Dunn, Getty Images)
Various Fight Week Goings-On
Showtime and HBO, the networks that will produce the pay-per-view broadcast on Saturday night, have a ridiculous amount a fight week shenanigans. So too do ESPN and Showtime’s parent network, CBS. Let’s run it down by medium.
There’ll be classic (read: old) Manny Pacquiao fights on HBO GO and HBO On Demand, while classic Floyd fights will be available on Showtime Extreme, Showtime On Demand and Showtime Anytime. Inside Mayweather vs Pacquiao episode three premieres on Showtime on Wednesday night. Friday’s weigh in will be live on both networks, which will also both host countdown shows on Saturday night. All the pre-fight documentaries produced by both networks are being replayed multiple times through the week: check your local listings for details.
ESPN meanwhile is doing SportsCenter live from Las Vegas throughout the week, with a whole lot of quite impressive guests, including Chauncey Billups (?) and Bernard Hopkins. They’re covering everything from the grand arrivals to the press conference, and doing All Access pieces with both fighters, Keys To The Fight packages with Teddy Atlas, and special editions of shows like SportsNation and First Take. They’re also doing a 26 hour boxing marathon on ESPN Classic.
Wednesday will see the official press conference streamed live online. Showtime’s Mauro Ranallo is going to host a daily web series from Las Vegas to “deliver the buzz of fight week.” Showtime is launching a Tumblr called Pound for Pound. Showtime is even “working closely with SnapChat to deliver exclusive content.” Snapchat!
“CBS Local Digital Media has created a comprehensive array of online audio, video and editorial features to promote the fight which can be experienced across a variety of digital and mobile platforms.” I don’t know what the means, but it sounds fancy. ESPN is obviously also bringing their digital to presence to bear on this, with videos and reporting throughout the week, based around their Fight Credential portal. There’ll also be an interactive feature “The Undefeated” written by Brando Starkey, which seems set to take a rather dim view of the fight and boxing as a whole.
The Rest Of The Week’s Boxing Schedule
- Ishe Smith vs. Cecil McCalla, Thursday, ESPN2, Las Vegas. Junior middleweight Smith (26-7, 12 KO) is one of boxing’s most consistently underwhelming fighters. He’s on TV here because he’s a Mayweather associate. His opponent, the cheerfully named McCalla (20-1, 7 KO), is coming off a loss and has fought nobody of note. Stablemate Ashley Theophane is also fighting on the card.
- Mercito Gesta vs. Carlos Molina, Thursday, Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes, Indio Calif. Junior welterweight Molina (who has a record of 17-2-1, and isn’t to be confused with the other, junior middleweight, Carlos Molina) proved himself game-as-hell against the much larger, much more experienced Adrien Broner and Amir Khan. The Philippines’ Gesta (28-1-1, 16 KO), a longtime lightweight, should be closer to his size and ability, though he can be awkward and wild. The two could put on a good scrap.
- Takahiro Ao vs. Raymundo Beltran, Friday, truTV, Las Vegas. These lightweights could be the sneaky pick of the week. Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KO) is a hard working pug in the Mexican mould and a former Pacquiao sparring partner. He lost to Terrence Crawford last time out, but it increasingly seems there’s little shame in that. Ao (27-3-1, 17 KO), a southpaw, can box a bit, but like most Japanese fighters will be happy to oblige Beltran if he wants to brawl.
- Takashi Miura vs. Billy Dib, Friday, Tokyo. Australian junior lightweight Dib (39-3, 23 KO) gets another shot at a world title, this time against Japanese Southpaw Miura (28-2-2, 21 KO). Is Dib good enough to outbox the hard charging hometown fighter? I doubt it.