The debate between who will win between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao contains just as much vitriol as a debate between liberals and conservatives. Fans from both sides feel passionate about their fighter as the better boxer. The predictions will not cease until May 2, and depending on the result and the direction of the fight, the dispute may never be settled.
The arguments can get pretty nasty. Both camps claim to be true boxing fans and that the fans of the other side know nothing about boxing.
But just like conservatives and liberals, fans of Mayweather and Pacquiao both have an ideological difference on what a fight and greatness in the ring should be. The debate can get unreasonably nasty, but the premise of the argument should be, "What makes a great fight/fighter?"
Maybe answering that question could quell the vitriol between both camps.
Writer's disclaimer: I am a Pacquiao fan. However, I will do my best to be unbiased. Mayweather fans, if you feel that I have you pegged wrong, feel free to leave a comment below...
My take on Pacquiao fans is that they view legendary fighters as those who are willing to go to war in the ring. They may not be flashy, but they will be willing to take a punch or two to give four or five back. Pacquiao fans love fighters who create exciting fights.
They want to see battles like Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier, Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns or Arturo Gatti vs. Micky Ward.
These fans want to see a "fight." They want to see their heroes battle it out through some adversity and leave it all in the ring. To them, boxing should be a cruel, ugly sport with lots of blood. A bout should equate to a real-life Rocky movie.
A great boxer, to a Pacquiao fan, is one who entertains and is not concerned about whether he eats a few shots. And a boxer should fight the best available fighter at any time.
Mayweather fans appreciate the technical beauty Mayweather offers. His style is the perfect definition of "sweet science." According to a Compubox 2013 chart, Mayweather was second in overall connect percentage and opponents' connect percentage.
His fans argue that he is the best ever. It's hard to dispute that point. He has never lost. He is one of the most accurate boxers in history, and he rarely gets hit.
Maybe he is the best. Mayweather has defeated some of the best boxers in the game. He displays extreme boxing intelligence by adjusting to his opponent's style in the middle of a fight. There's a reason why he's undefeated, right?
Mayweather fans think it's stupid to want to get hit in the ring. They see his technical prowess as a demonstration of his excellence. I mean, why take risks in winning if you can leave unscathed? It's all about low risk, high reward.
It's all about protecting that zero. The greatest boxers never have to feel the pain of losing.
So Who Is Right?
No one is right, really. In combat sports, art and style make fights. It's all about what you enjoy. Some people enjoy the brutal mano a mano showdowns, while others enjoy the technical mastery.
I enjoy a brutal fight. But I know it sucks to get hit, so I enjoy the technical mastery of the game.
It's really all subjective, isn't it?
This probably won't stop all the name-calling between all the keyboard warriors. But May 2 should bring us the answers we seek as boxing fans.