Saturday, 2 May 2015

Who deserves to win "The Fight of the Century": 'Mr Nice Guy' or 'Money Mayweather'?

Undefeated WBC/WBA welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (L) of the U.S. and WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines face off during a final news conference at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas
Undefeated WBC/WBA welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left of the U.S. and WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines.
Image by: REUTERS

Mayweather will fight to advance his belief that the only true measure of success is the accumulation of money – a church in which he is the most evangelistic apostle.
Pacquiao will stand in his way, armed with the fiercest southpaw stance in the sport, defending the right for Mr Nice Guy to, at last, finish first. The fight has turned us against some of our closest friends and family members, like all great sporting rivalries should.
It has put a wide divide between us and those we hold in high regard, those dear to us, because, no matter what your social standing or how deep your boxing knowledge runs, you are either pro-Mayweather or pro-Pacquiao.


Mayweather (above left) and Pacquiao (above right) represent different social backgrounds, to which most of us can relate.
Mayweather worships the god of money and all the material pleasures it buys you (this apparently includes strippers but he’ll pass on the lap dance). Pacquiao has a camel’s thirst for power, for control and the encomiums that make him feel like a messiah of the people of the Philippines.

This isn’t just a world welterweight unification bout or just, as many have dubbed it, “The Fight of the Century”.
When Pacquiao, 36, steps into the ring at the Las Vegas MGM Grand for the biggest grossing fight in history – that will put $200-million in their purses at a 60-40 split in favour of Mayweather – he will fight for Kid Kulafu.

Kid Kulafu was the young Pacquiao, who grew up on the streets of Manila, Philippines, after running away from home at 14 to find food on the streets because the cupboards at home were empty.
As the movie (trailer below) which premiered in Manila on April 13 2015 on the young Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao shows, this wasn’t the having-your-card-declined-for-insufficient-funds kind of poverty.

This was the cannot-sleep-at-night-because-of-a-ravenous-hunger kind. And so, Pacquiao decided, stuff this, I’m going out to find my own food.
Pacquiao is a mysterious character – a still river whose waters run very deep. He has had his gambling and cock-fighting flaws, which without doubt fermented while he was living a wretched life on the streets of Manila.

But in all, in the Philippines he is accepted as a man of the people. There’s a venerable air about him when he addresses “his” people and they show their trust and forgiveness by electing him to Congress. He gives to them freely, at the risk of his own financial stability.
The day Pacman was put in hospital by a vicious sixth round knockout blow by Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012, the concern of an entire nation was the blanket that gave him warmth during some of the coldest nights of his career.

He is a Filipino hero they can see, feel and touch. If they could go to war in his name they would. Imagine what the American reaction would be if Mayweather was put to the canvass, concussed and barely able to tell which way was up?
They would probably murmur that he deserved it for dropping his trademark defence and maybe switch the channel to the latest episode of The Real Husbands of Hollywood.

But this is also why Pacquiao could never post a picture on Instagram of himself with $100 bills amounting to what was estimated to be $100,000 on a bed asking his followers to help him caption the gratuitous image, like his opponent “Money Mayweather” once did.
That could buy close to 60,000 Happy Meals in the Philippines, of the beef burger plus soft drink kind.

Mayweather, 38, wasn’t born of opulence either but as soon as he earned his first dollar in the ring it seemed like he would rob the Federal Reserve Bank to get his hands on more.
His father, Floyd Mayweather Senior (pictured below), was a welterweight contender once and his uncle Jeff held the IBO super featherweight title. He was born with gloves fastened tight in around his hands.


But being good enough has never been enough for Mayweather. He will leave the sport having sucked more money from fights than all his predecessors have managed before him.
He promotes no brand except for his own – The Money Team and “TBE”, The Best Ever. He negotiated his own television fight deal with HBO worth $250-million for six fights, while the rights deal for the bout against Pacquiao will leave the boxers with $150-million to share.
We now know that he rewards himself for all that hard work by procuring a fleet of the finest strippers for his and his entourage’s entertainment.

In a tell-all book, his former right-hand woman Tasha Robinson-White, revealed how he held a “strip off” one time, where strippers were competing for a $100,000. Cold dollar bills lay strewn all over the club floor while the barely clad women hurriedly stuffed as many as they could into their purses.
It is Mayweather’s weird way of “giving back”. He is unapologetic and people love him for that.

Whether by the end of May 2 his record will read 48 and 0 or 47 and 1, Pretty Boy Floyd would have changed the sport forever and would leave it bereft of true superstars.
 Pacquiao will go back to a hero’s life in Manila, either way, as well. Until then, the question that remains is whether we will be rooting for the Kid Kulafu in us or the preening conqueror we wish we were.

In a world where the biggest prizes in sport are already reserved for the mega rich – the Uefa Champions League for Real Madrid, the English Premier League for Chelsea – it would please the senses to see the nice guy get the girl at the of the movie. Or in this case, win the fight of the century.

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