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NASCAR And Mayweather Vs. Pacquiao: The Week In Sports


You know what gets me through the week? The chance to say time for sports. The promoters dream bout is on. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have agreed to meet on May 2 in Las Vegas and try to inflict concussions on each for perhaps, the biggest payday in the history of boxing. And the Daytona 500 runs tomorrow. One great driver will be missing from the starting lineup. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom thanks so much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Always a pleasure. How are you?

SIMON: I'm fine, thank you. Floyd Mayweather Jr. with his sense of history says, quote, "this will be the biggest event in the history of this sport." I don't know. Bigger than Ali - Frazier, Joe Louis, Max Schmeling? I could go on, but somebody's going to make a lot of money.

GOLDMAN: Quite a sense of history. It will be a heck of a fight, Scott, between the two best boxers of this generation. And it will generate unbelievable riches. Forbes says Mayweather could make between $120 and $150 million for an evening's work. Pacquiao perhaps between $80 and $100 million. But, you know, this fight is coming five years after it should have, when they were much closer to their primes and when this first matchup was first envisioned. Since then, they stalled and ducked and hurled accusations. And fight fans became sick of the back-and-forth and figured they'd never see the two fight. Now they will, when Mayweather will be 38, Pacquiao 36, past their primes. Pacquiao, Scott, as you remember, was simply frightening in the ring five years ago. But he lost two consecutive fights in 2012, including one by a devastating knockout punch and has looked less than invincible. You know, you mentioned Ali - Frazier. They fought those three epic bouts in the 1970s. Ali was 29 and Frazier 27 for the first fight. Ali 33, Frazier 31 for the last one. Apologies to Mr. Mayweather, but those were boxing's biggest events. And something Mayweather and Pacquiao could've come close to had they fought earlier.

SIMON: I cannot overlook the fact that Floyd Mayweather went to prison for battering the mother of three of his children.

GOLDMAN: According to a Deadspin article a few months ago, Mayweather has committed at least seven separate physical assaults on five different women that resulted in arrest or citation, or as you point out, jail time. But Scott, we assume the millions of fans who plunk down 100 bucks - the expected pay-per-view fee for a high-def broadcast of the fight. That would be the highest pay-per-view fee in history. We assume those millions will overlook Mayweather's past in order to watch what they hope is a great fight.

SIMON: And there's an unfortunate theme here, isn't there? We're talking about sports. Kurt Busch, the great driver, won't be in the Daytona 500 tomorrow. He has been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for attacking a former girlfriend.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Well, NASCAR, you know, taking a cue probably from what the NFL didn't do this past season with players like Ray Rice and Greg Hardy, NASCAR suspended Busch as soon as word got out yesterday afternoon. A Family Court Commissioner in Delaware concluded that Busch had choked a former girlfriend and smashed her head against a wall. The incident allegedly happened last September. Now throughout this legal process, Busch has said that he's innocent and he'll reportedly appeal NASCAR's decision in a hearing today. But this is an ignominious first for NASCAR. Busch is the first driver suspended for alleged domestic violence.

SIMON: I'm going to have to observe. We know there are children listening to this broadcast and they shouldn't be afraid to listen to sports.

GOLDMAN: I know. Sports Scott, sports.

SIMON: You're speaking to us from Portland, and both Portland and basketball lost a remarkable man this week. Tell us about Jerome Kersey.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, finally a chance to talk about an athlete associated with goodness, although in a very sad context. Kersey died from a blood clot this week. It stunned people in the city. He was only 52. He played for the Trail Blazers in the early 1990s when they got to the NBA finals twice. So he was known to basketball fans on a national level. But really he was a local hero and he had that special connection that certain players form with their local communities. It seems like every team, every city has a guy who takes on, you know, folk hero status due in large part to how he plays the game. Kersey was the guy who would dive for the ball, get a rebound in the midst of players - taller players, finish a fast break with a thunderous dunk that helped spawn his nickname Mercy Kersey. He was widely loved in this community and now he'll be sorely missed.

SIMON: John Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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