It really wasn’t about the fight’s result in the end. I’m not sour-graping. Neither am I disregarding the decisions of the judges. Floyd Mayweather did win. He outboxed Manny and — save for a few headlocks and an overuse of clinches — he did this fair and square. He will go down in history as an undefeated boxer who locked horns with the best of them. But that’s not really the story we care about. If the two men hung up their gloves this very day Mayweather’s victory would just be a footnote in the inspiring life of a fighter like Manny Pacquiao.
The great thing about boxing is that like any other sport it caters to our basest emotions in a relatively healthy way. It frees our primal side and leads us to be completely honest. I’ve encountered reserved, tactful adults screaming “yeah go kick his ass!” in the middle of a match. We scream, we cringe, we cry at every punch because we’re connected on a gut level. Because stripped bare of all its formalities boxing is still two people in a ring slugging it out. And as human beings, it is hardwired in our nature, we love fights. Boxing is a fight at the end of the day. And in a fight we like seeing people pour their hearts out. While points and judges’ decisions are necessary to keep things in order, the primal root of boxing cannot be reduced to these. Matches won through sheer technical skill feel like they’re robbing us of the sport’s essence We want to see people fight hard. And, more importantly, we want to see them fighting for something because those who fight for a cause fight the hardest. And this is precisely why Manny’s valiant struggle is way more important than Mayweather’s shallow victory. History will remember Floyd Jr.’s undefeated streak, yes. He will be celebrated for it, surely. But the fans — those who have been moved by great fighters — these people and their kids and grand kids through them will also remember Manny’s unwavering and humble dedication to the the sport and all it stands for and here’s why.
Mayweather is a businessman. He’s smart, savvy, and he’s in love with his money. He’s a great boxer but I can scarcely call him a fighter. Not inside or outside the ring. This has nothing to do with his arrogance — as annoying as it may be. Ali probably had a bigger mouth than him, but he was fighting for a cause. Black Power, the Civil Rights Movement, racial equality. He fought for these as much as he fought for those championship titles. Manny may not have a specific advocacy but he dedicates each match to the Filipino people while simultaneously pledging parts of his earnings to various charities. That, in itself, is enough to inspire millions of his fellow countrymen who are as disadvantaged as he once was. And Mayweather? The man who plead guilty to domestic violence? A man who only prioritizes financial gain? I’ve never heard of a more horrible nickname than “Money.” His cause is greed and materialism. He refused Manny’s offer to donate the fight’s proceeds to charity because he wanted it for himself. What he wants to do with even more money is beyond me but he is a sorry example of a champion. A man who has all the skills without any heart and soul. A man devoid of a moral compass. He is the epitome of what professional boxing has become. All glitz and glamour and money-making. As long as he is the poster boy for the sport, I’d sooner watch a backroom bare-knuckle brawl. At least they fight hard there.
We, as fans of the sport, deserve champions not only inside the ring but outside it. Those who are deeply inspired by hard work and sacrifices boxers go through deserve a champion who fights for something. Noble men and women who see the struggles in their careers as extensions of their struggles in real life. I’ll be damned if that little kid, left for dead in the streets, looks to Mayweather and says “that’s who I wanna be!” A man who cares for nothing, nothing but money and his reputation. A man who abuses the mother of his children. I’ll be damned if that struggling single parent looks to him and sees the fulfillment of their aspirations. There is no starker contrast than Manny and Mayweather, and I pray they see the Pacman instead as their source of inspiration. A man who has struggled from the very bottom and, despite his success, has remained humble enough to offer each fight and attribute each victory to God and country. A man who chooses to serve his fellow countrymen in whatever way possible. Not a man who uses his strength to physically abuse his wife. Not a man who only takes pride in his wealth and legacy and thinks about nothing else.
Mayweather may have won on Saturday but it doesn’t really matter. He could defeat ten more Manny Pacquiao’s but he will never be remembered the way Pacman will be, as a true fighter. “Money” stands for nothing. He may be undefeated, but he is not a champion. Manny Pacquiao is and always will be.