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5 Reasons Mayweather-Pacquiao Has Become One of the Biggest Sports Events of All Time

Drama and dollars on a Hollywood level

After six years of negotiation, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will fight Saturday. Photo: Showtime Sports

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely seen the media hype surrounding the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao welterweight boxing match on Saturday night.

If you're a boxing fan, the so-called "Super Bowl of Boxing" is the answer to your prayers: a long-awaited matchup between two world champions that could be a classic showdown on par with Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier or Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns.

If you're not a boxing fan, you probably couldn't care less. And you may find yourself asking why this one bout is such an incredibly big deal. Valid question. 

Here are five reasons the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight has become such a massively big deal:

1. It's a Screenplay-Worthy Clash of Personalities

Pacquiao is the underdog who rose from the poverty-stricken streets of Manila to become a Filipino congressman and national hero. Mayweather's the rich, flashy American jock dogged by allegations of domestic violence.

"Would you buy anything from Mayweather?" asks Pacquiao's longtime trainer Freddie Roach. "He's not the best person in the world. Manny has a much better reputation. He's likable. He doesn't lie. He's not a bullshitter. He is a holy person. He's really cleaned up his act quite a bit."

The undefeated Mayweather, for his part, says the fight is "all about the money" and has taken frequent opportunities to mock Pacquiao, such as with a tweet last September showing the contender getting knocked to the canvas.

With its classic narrative of underdog vs. gloating champ, it's no wonder the fight has transcended sports to become a global entertainment and media spectacle, said Alexander Jutkowitz, managing partner of Group SJR.

No, sports fans don't care about boxing as much as they used to. But they do care about great storytelling. Whatever they are, Mayweather and Pacquiao are great "showmen" who know how to create great theater, he said. "It's hero vs. anti-hero. Floyd Mayweather is the anti-hero. Manny Pacquiao is the hero," Jutkowitz said. "That's the clash. But that's about entertainment, not about boxing."

2. It's Also a Study in Marketing Contrasts

The 36-year-old Pacquiao has sponsorship deals with Nike, Foot Locker, Wonderful Pistachios and Nestle's Butterfinger. He'll make $5 million in endorsement income from Saturday's fight alone, according to Lucia McKelvey, who handles his sponsorships at Top Rank Boxing.

A singer/actor in his home country of the Philippines, Pacquiao loves commercials and could be the next athletic endorsement star. Witness his exuberant performance in two Foot Locker spots created by BBDO in which he's comically confused about whether the long-awaited fight is really happening.

Mayweather does not have a single corporate sponsor, although he markets his own clothing line. But don't feel sorry for "Money" Mayweather: He ranked No. 1 on Forbes' 2014 list of the world's highest-paid athletes, with earnings of $105 million from two fights.

3. Advertisers Are Jumping on the 'Super Bowl of Boxing:'

Unlike the real Super Bowl, it won't be on free TV, but that's not stopping corporate sponsors from jumping aboard.

In addition to Pacquiao's sponsors running ad campaigns around the bout, Tecate paid an estimated $5 million to sponsor the fight, topping a bid from rival Corona.

Tecate has been running a "Bold Opinions" campaign, including three videos with Sylvester Stallone debating boxing analyst Larry Merchant. In one video, Stallone ribs Merchant about the night the 84-year-old broadcaster told Mayweather, "If I was 50 years younger, I'd kick your ass!" Asked Stallone, "Did you have a death wish?"

But as presenting sponsor of the so-called "Fight of the Century," Tecate brand director Gustavo Guerra had to be careful about appearing to take sides. That's why Tecate focused on an "engagement campaign" from Saatchi and Saatchi asking consumers for their opinions. But they threw in the discussion about Merchant's "kick your ass" comment to Mayweather just for boxing fans who were familiar with the televised confrontation. "It's the funniest of the four videos," said Guerra.

4. It Will Be One of the Richest Sporting Events in History

The mega-fight is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars—and shatter box office and pay-per-view records. Mayweather will get a 60-40 split of the kitty. He could take home $160 million vs. more $100 million for Pacquiao.

HBO Sports and Showtime are teaming up for PPV coverage (9 p.m. ET). The cost to watch? Try a hefty $99 for high-definition TV; $89 for standard-definition.

With fans waiting six years for this duo to finally face off, the fight's expected to break PPV records for revenue ($152 million for Mayweather vs. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Showtime in 2013) and households reached (2.48 million for Mayweather vs. Oscar De La Hoya on HBO in 2007).

5. It Marks Boxing's Latest 'Comeback'

Boxing nearly committed suicide by taking its biggest events off free TV (a mistake the NFL has never made), then disappointing PPV customers with ridiculous judging decisions. But the so-called "Fight of the Century" is the latest sign that boxing's making a comeback.

In a throwback to the days of Howard Cosell and ABC's Wide World of Sports, boxing has returned to free broadcast TV via NBC Sports' Premier Boxing Champions series. Now might be the time for advertisers and agencies to get back into the sport at a cheap price.

The return of boxing's coolness can also be seen in the interest level from today's hottest stars. In addition to all the beautiful people coming out in droves at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, you can see a cavalcade of excited celebrities in HBO's spot featuring the likes of Tom Brady, Michael Strahan and Mark Wahlberg (who's wagered $250,000 against Sean "Diddy" Combs over the outcome of the fight).

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