The Mayweather/Pacquiao bout, set to be the biggest money-maker in the history of the sport, is not just about boxing, but plays well as a morality play, indeed, as a study in not only the fighters’ contrasting personalities and character, but the image of the best in people. The morality play that is embedded in the May 2 fight extrapolates in fine fashion the fighters representing two opposing world views and lifestyles.
On the one hand, is Floyd Mayweather Jr., set to serve himself and let the world be damned. On the other hand is Manny Pacquiao, set to serve his people and the poor and disfranchised wherever he might find them. Mayweather, according to those who know him best, spends his money on luxury items almost as fast as he gets a paycheck. Pacman, on the other hand, while certainly used to a lifestyle which pedestrian Jane and Joe will never know, is accustomed to sharing his money with those less fortunate. In fact, one of his trainers/cornermen, one Buboy Fernandez, is where he is today because Pac had mercy on him and took him off the streets and into his employ.
While Mayweather is keen to surround himself with people who share what many refer to as his hedonistic lifestyle, so likewise is Pacquiao keen to surround himself with people of faith; those who are more likely to be seen reading a Bible than shopping at the local mall or clubbing on the local circuit. Mayweather prefers the company of strippers while Pacman prefers to be around people who contribute to society in some substantial manner.
Talk to the man on the street and the odds are very high that he or she will be pulling for Pacquiao. Those who admire him for his obvious boxing ability admire him more for his grounding in traditional western cultural values like kindness, compassion and service orientation. Talk to the relative few who are siding with Mayweather in the May 2 bout and one will find, interestingly enough, reference to and admiration for, his lavish lifestyle and penchant for braggadocio and arrogance.
As the Mayweather-Pacquiao morality play fleshes out, the fighters are seen to represent not only two very different boxing styles, Mayweather with the defense-first shoulder roll, otherwise known as the philly shell versus Pacquiao’s all-out offensive-minded, kill-or-be-killed style, but also two very different people and characters. Their contrasting styles appear, for all the world, to be antithetical to the personalities behind them. In meeting Pacquiao for the first time, people are surprised by his self-effacing humility. He is quick to get a sense of how others are doing and what he might do to improve their lives. Mayweather, on the other hand, is a bit off-putting, clearly self-absorbed and even a bit aggressive. Ask for a favor or a personal audience and, if one manages to get by Mayweather’s security detail, the odds are very high that he will ignore the would-be interlocutor or offer up a platitude and move on.
If one were to offend Pacquiao, he would be quick to forgive, while Mayweather almost immediately responds in kind, escalating tone and tenor all the while calculating to reassert control and intimidate. Pac and Mayweather’s respective fighting styles therefore, at least apparently, seem to contradict their personal lives and personalities. One might expect a personally aggressive Mayweather to fight in an aggressive manner and a humble, service-oriented Pacquiao to be more conservative and less aggressive in the ring. Both fighters, however, contradict their respective outside-of-the-ring personalities and character. While one finds an in-ring Mayweather who is somewhat passive and very much less likely to explode in offensive fury, one finds Pacquiao defying his personality from first bell, and frighteningly eager to take his opponent’s head off and leave him a bloody mess on the canvas.
In the build-up to the fight, observers will find a Pacquiao unusually keen to make others smile and laugh; indeed, one who is accommodating, kind and gracious. In Mayweather, they will continue to see the surly braggart who feels that he is not only the best fighter ever, but someone of distinction and privilege, somehow deserving of the reverence and awe reserved for the great and mighty.
When Mayweather and Pacman meet in the ring however, as their roles reverse, the planets will align and all that seemed wrong in the developing play will be righted. The kind, compassionate, and humble man from an obscure city in Mindanao in the southern Philippines will turn vicious, fighting for the poor and disfranchised of his people, and, in the end, standing triumphantly over his felled and bloodied opponent. Like the good man he is, he will then offer up his hand, check on Mayweather’s health, congratulate and encourage his fallen foe and move on, eager to serve his people.
The rage after all will not be personal, it is rather part of a service-orientation that teaches fans and observers alike that the poor and disfranchised are worth fighting for. As Mayweather and Pacquiao take up arms and go to battle come May 2, watch Pacman carefully as one will see not just a world-class fighter, but in the morality play that ensues, a humble man turned vicious for all the right reasons.
Opinion By Matthew R. Fellows
Photo by Oliver Petalver – Flickr License