In one corner stands one Manny Pacquiao, sober-minded, cerebral, meditative public servant. In the other corner stands one Floyd Mayweather Jr., superficial, flippant, self-serving seeker of carnal ecstasy. While Pacquiao is defined by an authentic service-orientation and is consumed with serving his fellow man, Mayweather by contrast, represents the hedonist ideal as he is consumed only with himself and the preservation of his kingly lifestyle. According to those who know him best, Money May wakes up every morning with one thing on his mind, what to buy then throw away only to buy again tomorrow. This reportedly includes friends and associates.
On the one hand there is a giver with a glad-handing and affable manner, while on the other there is a prodigal, ego-centric consumer whose crank-shaft-manner suggests to others that the sun rises and sets just for him. Both claim to serve God, one a humble carpenter from Nazareth, the other, Benjamin Franklin.
In the lead up to what many are suggesting will be, from a revenue standpoint, the biggest fight in boxing history, fight fans and onlookers alike will see a spectacle. Like a tale of two cities, a dramatic point-counter-point contrast between a humble man with a soft voice of diminutive stature who makes it his life’s purpose to seek out the poor and disfranchised and lift them up, and a man who ignores the plight of his own people seeking only to gratify what carnal pleasures might await under the next rock. One surrounds himself with good and decent God-fearing people, while the other surrounds himself with, well, strippers.
The public servant, as it turns out lives in a humble place called General Santos City, serves the region as its congressman and is regularly seen, in one manner or another, serving the needs of the poor and needy. By contrast the pleasure-seeking Mayweather hails from the city of sin, Las Vegas and rather than serving the community’s poor and disfranchised, the self-styled best-ever spends his time and money on a circuit of high-end retail stores or at one of the many luxury auto dealerships buying another of his by now too-many-to-count luxury automobiles. The home-front metaphor serves on many fronts as General Santos City, like Pacquiao himself, is small and humble without flash yet full of substance and character. Las Vegas on the other hand, like Mayweather, is something other than diminutive and humble choosing flash and superficiality over substance.
While both Pacquiao and Mayweather ended up as two of the greatest fighters ever to grace a boxing ring, both came to greatness informed by competing worldviews, goals and dreams. Pacquiao’s difficult youth was filled with the simple hope that one day he would make a lot of money so that he might help others who likewise suffered the indignity of marginalization and poverty. While Mayweather experienced many of the self-same psychological terrors induced by extreme poverty he instead dreamed of a future filled with gluttony and pleasure. While Pacquiao is the embodiment of a service-orientation as he sympathizes with the poor and their ongoing plight and seeks to mitigate their suffering, Mayweather represents a hedonist ideal as he not only insulates and distances himself from the poor but he curiously, on a regular basis, ridicules those who do not have what he has.
In the upcoming bout between Pac-man and Money May the world is presented with not only two world-class and contrasting fighting styles that should make for a compelling and hopefully competitive fight, but it also has two individuals who represent not only the best in us, but the very worst. In Pacquiao and Mayweather we have two unusually gifted athletes the likes of which materialize once in a lifetime. While both share true greatness in the manly art of boxing, only one represents the greatness within. What should matter most in a world beset with homelessness, inequality, hunger, pain and suffering appears to matter to the public servant Manny Pacquiao, while what not only should matter less but obstructs what matters most is what Floyd Mayweather represents.
Whether Pacquiao can beat Mayweather is up for debate. The old adage “let the best man win” will apply on the biggest of all stages in a ring in Vegas on Cinco de Mayo. In the case of Pacquiao verses Mayweather, the best man, win or lose, will be a man from a humble city, in a humble part of the world representing a good and decent people who can be proud that what really matters most will be on full display for all the world to see.
While Las Vegas has the bells and whistles, the people of General Santos City have something far more enduring and substantial. Indeed, they have a fellow citizen who makes the world a better place for having him in it and lifts people’s eyes from the boxing ring and helps focus them on what should matter most. Manny Pacquiao and his genuine service-orientation, win, lose or draw invites fans and observers alike to choose not the false bill of goods that is Mayweather and the hedonist ideal. Instead, he invites others to join him in his quest to remember the unfortunate, the marginalized and dispossessed. As it turns out, Pacquiao’s legacy will be less the great boxer than the man who helped people see the greatness within as it manifests in the active service that is rendered to those who need a smiling face and helping hand.
Opinion By Matthew R. Fellows
Photo By: Ed Yourdon – Flickr License