Reality Bites

By Johnathan Lee Iverson on May 5, 2015
Reality Bites
An odd silence descended upon the MGM Grand somewhere around rounds 5 and 6.

Mayweather’s ability to harness the public disdain for him into the most profitable brand in all of sports is pure genius…

For five long years fight fans discoursed, debated, and even savaged one another about the need for Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. Public demand followed each fighter, particularly Floyd Mayweather, as he is to blame for all things large and small that occur in the sport. They were haunted by the question after every bout, no matter the activity each partook in. Rumors, innuendo, promotional hyperbole with a side of trash talk colored the atmosphere with the hope (or not) of finally seeing what most believed would be an epic match-up.

Suddenly, the moment was upon us. Boxing grasped the public consciousness in a manner it hadn’t in decades. We always knew this would be a fiscal bonanza, yet even in our wildest projections, who among us would have imagined two individuals receiving nine figures for no more than 36 minutes of work? I find it hard to find a loser in such a proposition.

As we drew closer to that opening bell, insiders and the public offered their predictions and fed on commentary. Heavyweight great, George Foreman reasoned that Mayweather vs. Pacquiao would be the third most important fight in boxing history — following Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling II and Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier I. I found his observation to be incredibly astute. Indeed, those match-ups transcended the realm of the Sweet Science. If “all the world’s a stage” as it’s been said, these fighters embodied the cultural drama of the day. They were the symbolic players in the minds of the public and their fistic confrontation would no doubt, at least in the imaginations of those who’d cast their narrative upon them, settle all matters related to the culture at the time. However unfair to the combatants it might be to bear the weight of other peoples’ ideas — as we all love a good tale, it is that tale, however true (or in most instances untrue) that sells those tickets and converts a fight into an event.

After all the hype and noise leading up to what promised to be an epic moment in sports history, an odd silence would descend upon the MGM crowd somewhere around rounds 5 and 6, emulating I suppose, what the viewing public was experiencing. The Sweet Science, pure and unadulterated. No, it wasn’t the blood and gore of clumsy actors mauling each other as they do in boxing themed movies, it was masterful craftsmanship at its finest. Unfortunately, for the many who tuned in to see Floyd Mayweather lose this was a dastardly affair.

It never ceases to amaze me how two people can watch the same thing with completely different interpretations of what actually occurred. But, alas as one Ravi Zacharias once mused, “intent must proceed content.” The lines were clearly and vividly drawn as early as five years ago. There was no shade of gray. You either wanted Floyd Mayweather to win or you wanted Floyd Mayweather to lose. Only the strong Filipino contingent wanted Manny Pacquiao to win.

Therefore, it wasn’t Mayweather’s ring generalship, stellar defense, and excellent use of his jab that won the day — no, according to those who tuned in for his destruction, it was “running,” and “hugging.” At best few reluctantly concede that Mayweather won, but that it was up to him to be more entertaining. Of course this had nothing to do with the fact that Pacquiao was clearly taken out of his element, his famed speed and movement nullified by the fact that Mayweather employed his reach advantage via his jab and isn’t an animated punching bag, ala Antonio Margarito. Nevertheless, Manny Pacquiao is a man of faith and thus, along with his hardened disciples, the holy man of the Philippines maintains that it was he, not Mayweather who won the fight. In fact, according to a writer at Boxing News 24, “CompuBox” which had Mayweather landing 148 of 435 punches to 81 of 429 for Pacquiao, “was inaccurate by a landslide.” So I guess the cat’s out of the bag. Along with CompuBox conspiracies and oh yes, Manny’s tender right shoulder, I suppose a rematch is in order. As a lifelong fight fan I can only hope not.

Reality dictates that in the case of Floyd Mayweather this encounter with Manny Pacquiao was always a lose-lose proposition. Obviously had he lost, especially by knockout or stoppage, statues of Pacquiao would likely be erected all over the globe. Had it been Pacquiao who outboxed Mayweather in the same manner as Mayweather dominated him, I can assure you it would have been deemed as anything but boring. If Mayweather happened to have stopped Pacquiao it would have been because the Filippino strong man was the naturally smaller man and past his prime. I contend that the only victory for Mayweather in the matter of Manny Pacquiao was a historic nine-figure payday. This event was not about pugilistic supremacy, but marketing mastery. Floyd Mayweather’s ability to harness the public disdain for him into the most profitable brand in all of sports is pure genius. P.T. Barnum would be proud.

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  1. nicolas 09:25am, 05/05/2015

    I think sadly for many fighters in the USA, especially black fighters, they have to feel that they must market themselves in certain ways. Sadly, it could be said that black fighters are a dime a dozen. They do not get the same sort of support as say another minority group gets in the USA, and that is the Mexican or Puerto Rican fighter. Before his fight with Arturo Gatti, I don’t think Maywether was getting the attention. It was from my view that it was his fight with Gatti, then more with Da La Hoya and finally Hatton that did get that attention. Bronner also saw that one could get attention, especially with the use of our new social media. his fight with Maidana, which I believe attracted a live gate of 11,000 I don’t think would have happened had it let say been Tim Bradley vs Maidana. Andre Ward,l a far more talented fighter than Broner has not I believe ever fought before a crowd in the 5 digit mark. Pacquiao was an unusual phenomenon in the USA. A fighter from the Phillipines, it was remarkable that he became a boxing superstar in the USA. Somewhat he became that with his victories over Mexican fighters Marco Anonio Barrera and his first two fights with Juan Manuel Marquez, and trilogy with Eric Morales, it reached its pinnacle though when he destroyed the bigger but past his best years Da La Hoya, a fight that originally many criticized Da La Hoya for because they thought that he wanted to end his career beating up a smaller man. He also of course captivated the Phillipino community in the USA, and they were certainly a big part of the Pay Per View audience that watched him fight. It would be interesting to know what percentage of that crowd was in the USA. Mayweather also exploited this, finding some adversary to go up against. For all these years, he really did bring his pay per views up. Though I think it could also be said, that he showed any ugly racist side of some in the African American community toward Asians in particular, something which started festering perhaps in the late 80’s, and which we in the USA were shown due to the Rodney King riots, and Asians were also targeted by black mobs due to he killing of a black woman by an Asian woman store owner, who was found not guilty of the murder.

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