The respective careers of Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KOs) and Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. (40-0, 25 KO) have ultimately brought them together. The path each man has taken in getting to this point in their career couldn’t be farther apart in substance, when you get down to detail.
Mayweather was born into a boxing family in Grand Rapids, Michigan. To say he was born into a wealthy boxing family would be something of an overstatement. His parents’ drug problems were public knowledge, as well as his father supplementing his boxing income with drug profits. In short, Mayweather has brought himself up from the slums of Grand Rapids to the mansions of Las Vegas and he never misses an opportunity to tell the world of his new-found wealth and fame.
Pacquiao was born into blinding poverty in General Santos City, Philippines. As a child, he and his family struggled to eat. At only sixteen years of age, he turned professional in the Strawweight division (106 pounds). For Pacquiao, every fight was ‘do or die’. Like Mayweather, Pacquiao drug himself out of life’s gutter and has made a grand life for his family. He is a national hero in the Philippines and is fast becoming a mega-celebrity in the United States. He has made a more-than-generous living for himself, but won’t be the one bragging about it on camera.
Mayweather has made himself into anything but a hero. He has firmly entrenched himself in the role of the villain for every promotion that he has been involved with as of late. He is comfortable being the villain of the promotion. It can be hypothesized that most people tune in to Mayweather’s fights in hope of seeing him laid flat on his back with his opponent standing victoriously over his unconscious body. I may be in the minority in saying that I watch Mayweather’s fights to watch a display of pure boxing; hit-and-don’t-get-hit. I do hope for more action, but I’m willing to settle for what Mayweather dishes out.
Pacquiao’s soft-spoken nature and humility have made him much more loveable in the eyes of the American boxing fan. When casual and hardcore boxing fans tune in to a Pacquiao fight, they can’t help but hope for him to emerge victorious. I was one of the unfortunate fools to pick Miguel Cotto to win by late-round KO over Pacquiao, but knew deep down inside that he would win.
In the ring, Mayweather uses a ‘defense-first’ mentality. He rarely takes chances that might expose himself to danger. Some say he trains harder than he fights. In preparation for his match with Ricky Hatton, he reportedly knocked out sparring partner Carlos Baldomir, a man whom he pot-shotted for twelve rounds en route to an easy twelve-round decision only a year earlier.
Pacquiao goes in the ring with the mentality that he is on display for the entertainment of the fans. His health seems to be of little concern. When he is punched in the mouth, he bounces on his toes and raises his hands in the air, begging his opponent for more action. On the other hand, if someone slips a punch through Mayweather’s impenetrable defense, he ties up his opponent or retreats from the reaches of danger. The two men couldn’t be more opposite in style and personality, both in and out of the ring.
When you have one fighter that is all about action, and one that is all about defense and controlling the pace of the fight, what have you got? You most likely have an unpredictable outcome. You have a battle of wills. WILL Mayweather, the pure boxer, control the fight? Or WILL Pacquiao, the boxer-puncher, control the fight? I know most fans of Pacquiao will drop a comment stating that Mayweather likely will not last the full twelve against Pacquiao and I’m crazy for even suggesting the possibility, while Mayweather fans believe their man will prove to be the better man with ease.
The outcome is difficult to predict, indeed. Will Pacquiao prove too strong and fast for Mayweather to side-step and shoulder-roll to death? Can Mayweather keep Pacquiao away with stiff jabs to the midsection and trademark lead rights? Will Pacquiao’s multiple-punch combinations overwhelm the defensive wiz and force him to fight or will Mayweather stay in his shell, only coming out to blast the Filipino hurricane with one punch at a time and cruise to victory?
A panel of the most brilliant boxing minds can sit around and debate the outcome, but the only thing that matters in the end is Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather stepping into the ring and answering the questions for us. Conventional wisdom would have some of us believing that Mayweather should walk away with an easy victory. He is the naturally bigger man, more skilled and polished, but if recent history has taught us anything, it is that picking against Manny Pacquiao is not a smart bet.
Both men came from small beginnings. Mayweather has taken what some call the easier road to his fame. Most can say that Pacquiao has taken the road with more ups and downs to achieve his fame. The bottom line is that both roads are about to cross. They must in order for the itch to be scratched for the fight of the decade to finally come to fruition. Whichever man emerges victorious will also lay claim to the mythical “Pound-For-Pound” title.
So raise your glass or tip your hat or perform whatever your ritual of salutation may be in hopes of a deal being reached between Golden Boy and Top Rank. Pacquiao versus Mayweather is something we all, as boxing fans, need.
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