Someone should play Floyd Mayweather the old Beatles song, 'Money Can't Buy Me Love' because despite being the highest paid sportsman in the world and notwithstanding being rich beyond anyone's wildest dreams he faces the biggest fight of his career on 2 May with the overwhelming majority of people rooting for his opponent to win! By contrast, the opponent in question is Emanuel Pacquiao, another pound for pound boxing box office star but with one main difference. Should Pacquiao win or lose he will forever be the popular 'People's Champion', a humble warrior, always crediting God with his victories and his idol-like status, loved and respected by millions, despite the losses, despite the alleged philandering, despite all of his flaws or maybe because of them, after all they only humanize him even more. Mayweather on the other hand, stands aloof, often appearing an arrogant, detached champion, a man with who does not drink, a man who does not indulge vice except for women, which he feels he can do without conscience for he is unmarried and uncommitted to anyone or anything-except to the sport that he dominates. A legendary hard worker in the gym he epitomizes self discipline and his skill level is second to none. He is a huge betting favourite to win this match.
Yet if boxing history teaches us anything it is that no fight is decided until it is contested. True, things don't look good here for Pacquiao. His arch rival, Juan Manuel Marquez, a man who gave him so much trouble through 3 fights and handed him a crushing defeat in the fourth fight was handled with comparative ease by Mayweather in their contest just a few short years ago. But think of Tyson versus Holyfield in 1996. Tyson was a huge favourite to win that fight. He too was considered by many to be arrogant. He was often badly behaved both in private and public life and so most people were rooting for Evander to win but very few thought he could. In actual fact Holy was a 25 to 1 underdog but we all remember what happened that night! Tyson probably underestimated Holyfield though in the buildup to the fight but Floyd doesn't do that. (You don't remain a World Champion for 17 years straight by being sloppy in your fight preparations) A consummate professional, he always keeps a close eye on business-and on his unbeaten record.
Pacquiao is a very honest fighter. A personable and gracious man he doesn't take his fighting personally. Indeed he has been openly criticized by his trainer Freddie Roach for being too agreeable, touching gloves with opponents at the beginning of each round; he is a true gentleman of the ring. He is also humble in defeat (He has 5 of them) even after being robbed by the judges in the first Timothy Bradley fight Manny still hadn't got a bad word to say about anyone.
Mayweather on the other hand is ruthless and he loves to trash talk. He's not interested in being friends with opponents, he is pure commerce. He is of course not a dirty fighter but he is unforgiving and he will seize any (legal) advantage or opportunity to win. Think of Round one of the Arturo Gatti fight or the conclusion of the clash with Victor Ortiz. Mayweather is subtle and sublime in his ring general ship but cold-bloodedly merciless in his desire to win. He has never even been knocked down in 47 pro-fights.
If I was Freddie Roach I would be studying the WBC Super middle-weight fight between Gerald McClellan and Nigel Benn from 1995. At that time McClellan was known as 'Mini Mike Tyson', he was the most feared man in his division with a tally of early knockouts on his record to back it up. He was odds on favourite to destroy Benn when they fought in England in 1994. Benn overcame a first round beating to adopt the perfect style to beat McClellan. Coming forward all the time Benn being the shorter man crouched as he approached, almost La Motta-like in his method, moving his head from side to side like a young Mike Tyson to circumvent punches he would emerge from his crouch throwing thunderous hooks to McClellan's head with great success. Fighting like a man possessed he went on to stop McClellan in what is seen as the most brutal fight ever in a British ring as well as one of history's biggest upsets. Manny may look to try a similar strategy, ignoring or avoiding what comes his way he needs to overcome Floyd's height and reach advantage and find his way inside-a little like Ricky Hatton attempted to do in his own clumsy fashion when he fought Mayweather but Pacquiao can adapt this method with considerably more skill to apply educated pressure. Moreover, unlike Hatton Pacquiao stays in shape all year round and so won't run out of gas in the late rounds. Floyd on the other hand is so good at leaning back away from shots and obviously this ability works even better with a shorter opponent.
In the final analysis if this were a popularity contest Pac Man would win hands down but it's not. This is the hurt business and both men can hurt and be hurt. Can the Pac man gobble up the Money or will the cash be too flash? It's a paradox to a true fight fan like myself because I admire them both so much I don't want either man to lose but if Manny should triumph he will bring waves of happiness to millions and be loved even more than he is already. If Mayweather wins it proves what he's told us all along, he is the best of his generation and one of the very best in history. This victory certainly won't gain him any more in the love stakes but by God, he will be respected by all.