The May 2 showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is so big the camps of the two stars have opted to do away with the multi-city, cross-country and international press tour that remains a norm to this day but was unprecedented in 1985 when Marvin Hagler fought Thomas Hearns.
Top Rank was the sole promoter of Hagler-Hearns world middleweight title fight and Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum is still mesmerized by the scale of the operations back then.
Since the Internet was largely unheard of during the mid-1980s, promoters had to bring his act all over the country to hype the event and during the buildup to Hagler-Hearns, Arum rattled off 22 cities that they went on to cover in a frenzied 12 days that the Harvard-educated lawyer dubbed as the “Magical Mystery Tour.”
With Hagler guaranteed $5.7 million and Hearns assured of $5.4 million, the two fighters were willing to fly to New York (the kickoff leg), Boston, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Reno, Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland, Washington, Philadelphia, Atlantic City and East Rutherford.
The late, great publicist Irving Rudd, who joined the tour, once said that he had to wake up in the middle of the night thinking exactly where he was.
Arum even had to lease jets with Caesar’s Palace lending its late-model 12-seater Gulfstream G-II for Hagler and a nine-seater and slightly slower Falcon was brought in for Hearns.
The problem was that during a certain stage of the back-breaking promo tour, Hagler and Hearns had to switch planes and Hagler vehemently protested that should that happen, he will walk away from the fight.
Sensing the seriousness in Hagler’s voice, a panic-stricken Arum had to tap another Gulfstream to remedy the problem.
Those were the days and with the Internet and social media exploding in popularity, the major players have decided to hold doing a tour until the need arises.
Still, the marquee matchups in the recent years had to embark on tours to drumbeat the fights they were staging and Pacquiao was a frequent participant to this kind of gimmick.
In the runup to the Oscar De La Hoya fight in Dec. 2008, Pacquiao and the Golden Boy toured key US cities and since then the eight-division Filipino has logged in thousands and thousands of miles on board commercial and private planes.
The Bulletin was even part of the tour several times and these came when Pacquiao fought Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Maquez (third fight) and Chris Algieri.
The stops on board commercial and private planes were the usual places: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington, San Diego, Dallas and exotic locales like Macau, Mexico City and San Juan (Puerto Rico).
The whirlwind trips in these expensive cities likewise put a dent on the budget with stays in ultra-luxurious hotels lasting from two nights to a scant six hours.
In New York, the preferred hotel was a choice between the St. Regis, Le Meridien or Lowe’s; in Washington, it was The Hay-Adams; and in In Los Angeles, there was no other place but The Beverly Hills.
“There is no need for a tour for the fight of this magnitude,” said Pacquiao adviser Mike Koncz.
Everyone involved is not complaining.
Thirty years later, even the guaranteed purse has changed.
For the May 2 super fight, Mayweather is entitled $120 million, while Pacquiao is sure of making at least $80 million.