Today the LA Times reported that the much anticipated Floyd Mayweather, Jr.—Manny Pacquiao bout was all but finalized for March 13, 2010.
So, it looks like boxing fans are going to get the fight they've been clamoring for since at least since Manny Pacquiao retired Oscar De La Hoya almost one year ago.
Finally, the Money May fans, the Manny nut-huggers, and the haters on both sides will all get to see their warriors settle things in the ring, rather than on the page and in the press.
But before PBF and Pac-Man get in the ring there will pages written, blogs posted, and video shot talking up the pros and cons of both fighters. Fans of both men will beat their chests and bare their fangs.
To get it started, here are my five things to look for once they get in the ring.
1. Which Floyd, Jr. Will Show Up?
Over the course of Money's career fans have been treated to two different styles.
One is the untouchable defensive fighter who seemingly would rather dance around the ring, throwing one punch at a time and racking up points like it was a glorified amateur fight. This is a style that has made opponents look silly, while at the same time boring fight fans and casual viewers alike.
It's hard to criticize because it is so effective but it makes for a duller evening than watching Lawrence Welk with your Aunt Martha at the senior center.
The other style is the "don't call me out like that" Floyd. This is the Floyd who mixes it up. The Floyd who demonstrates more power than he usually shows in his fight. The Floyd who closes the show.
Which Floyd shows up seems to be based on Money's temperament at the time of the fight. But the few times he has been pressed, by Jose Louis Castillo in their first fight and the early rounds with Ricky Hatton, Pretty Boy has stepped it up and thrown more combinations.
Many fans believe Pacquiao's arsenal will force Money to mix it up and fight. But even Pacquiao's trainer Freddy Roach admits that Floyd, Jr. is a defensive fighter with few peers in the history of boxing and that it will be hard to corner Floyd if he doesn't want to engage.
2. How Will Roach and Pacquiao Game-plan for Floyd?
Roach is the master tactician and Pacquiao the master student. But let's face it. Mayweather has skills that the likes of Hatton and Cotto never had, even at their best.
While it is true that Pacquiao has combined foot and hand speed that Mayweather has never seen before, Floyd is still the quicker fighter. Manny can cut off the ring but he's going to need Floyd to stand in and fight if he wants to land those hard right hands that he loves to use to loosen up his opponents.
And after watching a battered Cotto dance away from Manny in the late rounds of their fight, I seriously wondered what Roach would be able to cook up to force PBF to come to the middle of the ring if he isn't inclined to do so. He's too quick to bull rush.
3. How Will Fans React to Mayweather if He Refuses to Fight?
Most of the time fans have little impact on a fight one way or the other in a big Vegas fight. The judges there are to clued into boxing and too protected to be intimidated by the fans. Mayweather knows this better than any fighter, because even though Vegas is Money's home town he's usually fighting someone whose fan base outstrips his by a large margin.
But this time the fans could have an impact because they will not be happy campers if Floyd refuses to engage Manny the way he has other fighters in the past. Boos will rain down on Mayweather if he doesn't mix it up, and that could have an impact on both Floyd and the judges.
Most boxing experts felt De La Hoya easily beat Felix Trinidad in their first fight, but when Oscar danced away from Trinidad at the end of the fight, Trinidad danced away with the decision.
4. Will the Fans and Pride Force Floyd to Fight the Pac-Man's Fight?
While Floyd loves to say he doesn't care what people think about him. He really, really cares what people think about him. I believe if the fans start booing, Money will mix it up even if it means risking the fight.
Sugar Ray Leonard has always said he fought stupid in his first fight with Roberto Duran. That he should have fought like he did in their second fight and the way he did against Hagler.
But pride and machismo got the best of him. I wonder if the same thing might happen to Floyd. He's never fought anyone who throws as many hard punches as Manny does and mixing up too much could spell disaster.
5. Can this Fight Live Up to Expectations?
Hard core fans have been treated to some of the best fights ever in the last few years. The Raul Marquez-Israel Vaquez trilogy was as good as it gets, and the Pacquiao, Morales, Barrera, Marquez quartet gave us several memorable fights. And that's not even talking about the welterweights the last few years.
But it's been a long time since two greats with this kind of fan interest have gotten it on at the height of their career. A long time since a fight has moved from the boxing ghetto onto the front pages of the newspapers around the world. This is that kind of fight.
When the big fight is the talk of the lunchroom, when even the girls who want to know who has the fight at their house and even Dana White isn't dumb enough to try and offer a competing UFC pay-per-view show.
Will people be just as excited when the fight is over? Will they be talking about this one in 40 years like they do with Ali-Frazier? Will it live up to the billing?
I hope so, because it will be great for the fans and it will be great for the sport.