Manny Pacquiao himself recognizes the seeming conflict between being a God-fearing family man and one of the world’s finest practitioners in its pre-eminent blood-sport. Neither is this seeming incongruence lost on fans and observers with most suggesting that God is not in the fight business. Freddie Roach, Pac’s erstwhile trainer, put it all in perspective opining that God is not interested in who wins a boxing match. Pacquiao however begs to differ suggesting that God not only has a vested interest in his victory, but come May 2, God will deliver Mayweather into his hands. This is biblical code for not just a Pacquiao victory, but the coming God-authored annihilation of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
At surface value, the God invoked by Pacquiao, consistent with a popular understanding of Christian theological ethics, might suggest that Roach is correct. Whatever one thinks of the biblical canon however, a deeper, more critical textual and theologically-based investigation is not only suggestive, but demonstrative of the fact that there is biblical support for Pacquiao’s approach.
Ask pedestrian Jane and Joe about what Christianity is and the knee-jerk response is generally the “do unto others as one would be done by” mantra. While this is a big part of Christian ethics it must be counter-balanced with what Catholic theologians refer to as “just war theory.” That is, when human life is threatened, it is incumbent upon the Christian to defend it, protect it, and help it thrive. “Just-war” however, is limited to what is necessary to submit the enemy and take away its offensive capability. It becomes “just” as it is executed with a mind to protecting innocence, righting a wrong, and through same, perpetuating a good. In the parlance of Kantian ethics, just-war becomes a duty, while in the parlance of the utilitarian ethicist, war becomes a just means to a proper end.
While most recognize the Christian ethos as one of peace, love and conflict resolution boxing, as a blood-sport, is about re-arranging an opponent’s face then separating him from his senses. A good Christian, one is told, is about the business of turning the other cheek while the fighter’s credo is to hit-and-not-be-hit. The Christian-tables turn however when the perpetrator becomes not only incorrigible, but, if allowed to continue its offensive activity unabated, threatens to expand, engulf and ultimately destroy the countryside.
It is in this theoretical countryside that we meet one Manny Pacquiao setting not just his teeth but his person against a force he deems not only a detriment and threat to boxing but of good people and principle everywhere. Indeed, Pacquiao sees the coming May 2 encounter as a just-war extrapolation, indeed, a biblically inspired, apocalyptical conflict between good and evil that will certainly result in the God-authored annihilation of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
One is already hearing and reading the media gainsayers mocking this characterization but their failure is their collective and entirely cynical, politically correct refusal to see the ongoing Mayweather-Pacquiao conflict for what it truly is. Indeed, one where a good man, a true servant of the loving ideal, is facing a man whose god appears to be himself, surrounded by the accouterments of wealth, selfishness and the ethics of hedonism.
For Pacquiao, this is less about winning a boxing match than it is about sending a message to the youth of the world that there is a better, more appropriate way to conduct oneself. This message is the stuff of the Hebrew prophets whose main message was a quality of social justice that sought to have a revolutionary effect on not just the local community but on the world. As Pacquiao takes on Mayweather he would have the world lift its eyes a bit and instead of seeing a simple boxing match between two world-class fighters, he would have them see with a spiritual set of eyes that are set to reveal a much bigger fight.
As Pacquiao trades leather with arguably one of the greatest fighters to ever lace on gloves, Pac is telling the world that if God is with someone, nothing can stand against that person. Indeed and more pointedly he is telling the street kid in Manila that there is a way out, that there is hope for a bright future and that each child, regardless of circumstance, is important and loved beyond measure. Extrapolate same, write it large, and the street kids and homeless that populate the countryside and urban war-zones of the world have in Pacquiao the clear demonstration that their lives are not just worthwhile, but are eminently worthy of not just Pac’s best effort, but of a God in heaven and good people everywhere who will never abandon them.
It is in this vein that Pac sees May 2 as more than just a fight, it is part of the ongoing biblical conflict between good and evil, between right and wrong and love verses hate. There is too much pain, suffering and poverty in the world, Pac is suggesting, to buy into the self-serving Mayweather lifestyle. In Pacquiao one sees clearly that good people, indeed, self-styled men and women of God, will continue to refuse to sit idly by and let the suffering continue unabated. A Pacquiao win is good for not just boxing but, as Pac himself would argue, the coming God-authored annihilation of Floyd Mayweather, Jr., will be a blessing for everyone who feels discarded and abandoned by-and-through prodigal egotism, greed and self-regard.
Opinion By Matthew R. Fellows