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Friday, March 28, 2008
Updated: March 30, 9:36 AM ET
Boxing's best ready to conquer WWE

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Mark A. Wallenfang/WireImage

Mayweather's career will reach new heights when he squares off against The Big Show at WrestleMania XXIV.

'Big Show' time for Mayweather

When Floyd "Money" Mayweather was a kid, he loved professional wrestling. He wanted to be a wrestler. Even today, he remembers his favorites: Hulk Hogan, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog.

Now, having conquered boxing, the undefeated pound-for-pound king is giving wrestling a shot.

Take of the tape

Floyd Mayweather vs. The Big Show
Floyd Mayweather The Big Show
159 Weight 441
5-foot-8 Height 7 feet
72" Reach 82"
17.5" Neck 24"
16" Biceps 21"
7" Wrist 11"
9" Fist 15"
42" Chest 67"
32" Waist 50"
27" Thigh 37"
14 Calf 20
9 Shoe size 18EEEEEE
The storyline concocted by the World Wrestling Entertainment scriptwriters -- and played out over the past several weeks of buildup -- has the 5-foot-8-inch, 159-pound Mayweather taking on The Big Show, the 7-foot, 441-pounder who is advertised as the world's biggest athlete.

They're due to produce mayhem at WrestleMania XXIV Sunday night (PPV, 7 ET) at Orlando's Florida Citrus Bowl in a classic David vs. Goliath match.

More than 70,000 fans are expected for the WWE's biggest event of the year. WWE boss Vince McMahon hopes Wrestlemania XXIV, the Super Bowl of wrestling, will break the wrestling record of 1.2 million pay-per-view buys generated by last year's event headlined by McMahon's loss to Donald Trump in their hair match, which required the loser to have his head shaved in the ring.

Mayweather's record-breaking pay-per-view success for his two boxing matches last year -- wins against Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton -- produced more than three million buys. He knows his presence in WrestleMania probably means more big business.

"I'm a business man," boasted the diverse Mayweather, who participated in "Dancing with the Stars" last season. "What I'm showing every other fighter out there is that you don't have to be one-dimensional. Go outside the box. Build an image for yourself. Look at any other fighter in boxing and they're just a boxer. They look at Floyd Mayweather and they say, 'That kid is an entertainer.' This is going to take me to another level in mainstream America."

When it comes to the wrestling side of things, Mayweather is playing his role of the heel to the hilt, insisting that the match is legit. He's taunted Big Show for weeks, even breaking the behemoth's nose during their initial mid-February encounter that sowed the seeds for their simmering feud.

"On Sunday, I'm gonna be on the run, on the run for manslaughter," Mayweather said.

Big Show, whose fist appears almost as big as Mayweather's head, said he'll punish and squish him. He's already thrown him clear out of a ring during one encounter.

"This is not going to be a quick match," Big Show insisted. "I'm going to draw this out. I'm going to make this like my first marriage. Long and painful. When I get my hands on him, I'm going to manhandle him."

Even if the match is scripted, there is still an element of danger because there's no telling what can happen when a 441-pound man collides with a 159-pounder. One wrong move could be catastrophic for Mayweather, who needs to remain healthy for a Sept. 20 rematch -- and a $20-million plus payday -- with De La Hoya.

"This guy is strong as hell," Mayweather said of Big Show, whose real name is Paul Wight. "This is a no-holds-barred match. Anything can happen."

Mayweather would not disclose how he plans to attack a man more than twice his weight. (Hopefully, the scriptwriters will clue him in.)

"You want to see what happens, you have buy pay-per-view," he said. "The world will get a chance to see how I deal with him. If I give you my game plan, no one will buy it. I know I can get hurt. He can chokeslam me and pin me. Oh, man, you got to see this one."

Pacquiao-Marquez II a hit

Pacquiao, Marquez

Chris Cozzone/AFP/Getty Images

All parties walked away winners after Pacquiaol, left, and Marquez met in their rematch.

Manny Pacquiao's split decision victory against Juan Manuel Marquez to win the junior lightweight world championship in their March 15 rematch in Las Vegas hit a home run on pay-per-view.

The bout produced 400,000 domestic buys and $20.2 million in pay-per-view revenue, HBO PPV's Mark Taffet said.

The results put the fight in a class by itself as it became the first fight from lightweight down to reach 400,000 buys.

"It had a strong performance in the historically strong Hispanic and Filipino communities," Taffet said. "But most impressively, it registered its biggest increases in broader general markets, reinforcing the strength of these fighters, the lighter weight classes and the sport of boxing."

For the sake of comparion, October's Pacquiao-Marco Antonio Barrera rematch generated 345,000 buys. The Marquez-Barrera fight last March received 230,000 buys. The previous high for a PPV fight in the smaller weight classes was Pacquiao's second fight with Erik Morales, which did 360,000. Their first fight did 350,000 and the third fight did 345,000.

No Vera-Lee rematch

Vera, Lee

Samoyedny/fightwireimages.com

Can you say 'rematch'? Vera, left, and Lee can't.

Immediately after middleweight Brian Vera stopped hot prospect Andy Lee in the seventh round for a major upset on last week's "Friday Night Fights," there was speculation that they would meet in a summer rematch. But that won't happen, according to Jeff Wald of "The Contender," Vera's promoter.

"Not a chance on God's earth," Wald said when asked about a rematch by ESPN.com. "No reason to. Lee doesn't mean anything. There is no upside to a rematch. There are better fights out there for Brian. There are more meaningful opponents. I'm very proud of what Brian did because nobody gave him a chance. Why should we do a rematch? What for? There's better money elsewhere."

Lee, a 2004 Irish Olympian, is trained and managed by Emanuel Steward, who was already looking ahead to a possible title fight with Kelly Pavlik before the shocking loss. They also were set to sign with Top Rank following the Vera fight. Although Lee lost, Top Rank's Bob Arum told ESPN.com that he still intends to sign Lee.

"Sure, we still want to sign him," Arum said. "It won't be the same deal, and they know that. We'll tweak it. But we talked [Wednesday] and we're going to go ahead and sign him. Hopefully, we can finalize it this weekend. I still think Andy is a hell of a prospect. Now it's up to our matchmakers, Bruce [Trampler] and Brad [Goodman], to bring him along."

Arum said if they can finalize the deal, he wants to put Lee in an untelevised bout on Pavlik's June 7 undercard.

QUICK HITS

Pacquiao

• The bad cut Manny Pacquiao suffered over his right eye in his junior lightweight championship victory against Juan Manuel Marquez two weeks ago will not deter him from moving up to lightweight to challenge titleholder David Diaz on June 28 in an HBO PPV fight at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. "The status of the June card is that Manny will be ready to fight without any question," promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com. "They took out the stitches last Friday and you can hardly see anything. Manny will start training for the fight in Los Angeles in mid-April. We're sending out the contracts to David."

Witter

• Showtime is working on a deal with British promoter Mick Hennessy to televise junior welterweight titleholder Junior Witter (36-1-2, 21 KOs) in a mandatory defense against Timothy Bradley (21-0, 11 KOs) May 10 in England on a special edition of "ShoBox," the prospect-oriented series that has followed Bradley's rise. The card would also feature the rescheduled super middleweight title eliminator between Carl Froch (22-0, 18 KOs) and Denis Inkin (32-0, 24 KOs), a match which was originally supposed to air on "ShoBox" March 29 but was postponed because Inkin had a medical issue.

Gamboa

• Heralded Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa (9-0, 8 KOs), who is slated to make his HBO debut in a May 17 tripleheader, is in need of a new opponent. Marcos Ramirez (25-0, 16 KOs) withdrew from the junior lightweight bout because of personal issues. The two junior middleweight TV bouts remain intact: James Kirkland vs. Eromosele Albert and Alfredo Angulo vs. Richard Gutierrez.

Diaz

• The big show planned for April 18 in Dubai has been called off, matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz told ESPN.com. He said the reason for the cancellation was because the financial backers there didn't meet certain financial deadlines. Nonito Donaire was to defend his flyweight title in the main event against Hussein Hussein, but now Donaire manager Cameron Dunkin is looking for another fight. Ulises "Archie" Solis's junior flyweight title defense against Juanito Rubillar has found a new home, though. It will take place May 17 in Mexico on the Top Rank PPV undercard of Jorge Arce's next bout. Lewkowicz said Donnie Nietes' strawweight defense against Daniel Reyes probably will move to a May card in the Philippines. The only bout that won't be rescheduled is ex-lightweight titleholder Julio Diaz's match against Ranee Ganoy.

Raheem

• Lightweight contender Zahir Raheem was forced to withdraw from an April 18 ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" main event after he was involved in a car accident this week. He was driving promoter Tony Holden's Escalade when another car broadsided Raheem and totaled the car. Raheem was not seriously injured but he's taking time off from training as a precaution. No replacement fight has been set yet, but one match under consideration is a lightweight eliminator between Ray Narh and Ganoy, who was available when his fight with Diaz on the Dubai card was canceled.

Castillo

• ESPN and Showtime have reached a deal under which many of Showtime's classic bouts will be replayed primarily on ESPN Classic under the title "Showtime Championship Boxing on ESPN," the networks announced. The show will air Thursday nights (8 p.m., midnight replay) and debuted this week with the now-legendary Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo lightweight title fight from May 2005. The first two Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez junior featherweight championship fights air May 15. Here are some other bouts scheduled: Corrales-Joel Casamayor II and James Toney-Evander Holyfield (April 3); Wladimir Klitschko-DaVarryl Williamson (April 10); Ricky Hatton-Ben Tackie and Ricky Hatton-Kostya Tszyu (April 17); Juan Manuel Marquez-Victor Polo (April 24); Joe Calzaghe-Jeff Lacy (May 8); Casamayor-Corrales I (May 15) and Castillo-Casamayor (May 22).

Thompson

• Philadelphia junior middleweight Anthony Thompson (23-2, 17 KOs), released by Top Rank in January, appears headed to Seminole Warriors Boxing. Thompson manager Cameron Dunkin and Seminole Warriors Boxing's Leon Margules told ESPN.com they are working on a deal. Thompson, 26, was considered a can't-miss prospect at one time. He's been idle since losing a controversial decision to Yuri Foreman last summer.

Agbeko

• Idle since an eye-catching seventh-round TKO of Luis Perez to win a bantamweight title last September on Showtime, Ghana's Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko (25-1, 22 KOs) will return in May. His promoter, Don King, and Warriors' Margules avoided a purse bid and made a deal for Agbeko to face Nicaragua's William Gonzalez, the mandatory challenger. The bout hasn't been scheduled, but both sides told ESPN.com that they've agreed to terms and that it will take place in May. Gonzalez (21-2, 19 KOs) has won five in a row in Central America since losing his only fight in the U.S., a memorable third-round knockout to Jhonny Gonzalez in September 2005.

• On the eve of the annual Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., the city will host the April 9 season premiere of "Wednesday Night Fights" (ESPN2). The main event features rising flyweight contender Rayonta "Stingray" Whitfield (20-0, 10 KOs) of Augusta against Manuel Vargas (24-2, 10 KOs) in a bout that will serve as a title eliminator in two sanctioning organizations. Whitfield, 26, may be America's best flyweight. Vargas, of Mexico, is on a seven-year, 23-fight winning streak. The winner will have a choice of which title to fight for, either the belt held by Nonito Donaire or by Omar Narvaez.

Brock

• Heavyweight Calvin Brock (31-2, 23 KOs), who had surgery to repair retinal damage in his right eye in December, is still uncertain when he'll return to the ring. "Recently I underwent surgery to fix damage in the retina of my right eye, and I am waiting for the damage to heal," said Brock, 33, who was knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko in the seventh round in a November 2006 title challenge and is coming off a decision loss to Eddie Chambers in an eliminator four months ago. "I plan to return to the ring once my eye is 100 percent. Until then I will rest and do what is necessary to help my eye."

Abraham

• Middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham defends his belt for the seventh time on Saturday against American Elvin Ayala in Kiel, Germany. Although Abraham (25-0, 20 KOs) is a massive favorite against Ayala (18-2-1, 8 KOs), who is best known for drawing with first-season "Contender" winner Sergio Mora in his last fight in October, he and his team insist they aren't looking past Ayala because a loss would crush their plans to come to the U.S. "A victory is very important for Arthur because then he wants to go to the States and make a name for himself there," trainer Ulli Wegner said. Said Abraham, "Kiel is bigger for me at the moment than New York."

• Boxing is certainly a male-dominated sport, but there are many woman who have made a name for themselves. Some of them will be feted at the World Boxing Hall of Fame's "Salute to Women in Boxing" on Sunday in Commerce, Calif. Among the honorees: famed manager Jackie Kallen, known to many as "The First Lady of Boxing"; longtime publicist Debbie Caplan; Lorraine Chargin, who, with her husband Don Chargin, has been a fixture of the California boxing scene for more than 40 years; and former female pound-for-pound No. 1 Lucia Rijker.

Quotable

Malignaggi

"A match-up between me and Ricky will be a super fight, one talked about for as long as there is boxing. No other fight at 140 matters. And before the fight, well, everyone knows that I talk a lot of smack, so Ricky's not going to get any breaks there, either. Me and Ricky can save seeing if we're cool until once we've earned each other's respect at the only place it counts -- in the ring. There is no one, I repeat, no one I want to fight more than the No. 1 guy in the division, Ricky Hatton. Forget the money, forget the titles. This is about being the best." -- Junior welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi, on challenging division champion Hatton this fall if they both on the May 24th card they'll share in Hatton's hometown of Manchester, England.