Manny Pacquiao: The Bane of Floyd Mayweather’s existence – Pt 2
By Peter Marinelo: At its heart, boxing is entertainment. A sport that, despite its purity, provides the violent blood lust that is inherent to the human condition. People flock to arenas or gather in front of their T.V sets for the same reason the Romans filled the Colosseum. It’s this fact that makes pure technicians like Mayweather and even Hopkins, and Toney very underappreciated despite their great ability in the ring. This is really nothing new though.
Willie Pep is regarded as the greatest pure boxer to ever live with a better record than Sugar Ray Robinson, yet it is Robinson who is praised as the best ever. When fans of the sport talk about the greatest fighters, the Will o’ the Wisp is hardly ever mentioned. This fact reveals that although boxing is an art, and there is a huge audience that fully appreciates that art, it’s the fighters who “bring that ass” as Naazim Richardson would say that are the most appreciated. It’s this very reason why Floyd created his alter ego, “Money” Mayweather, in order to sell fights and draw crowds. If not for this creation, Floyd would simply be in the category that technicians like Hopkins and lesser known fighters like Timothy Bradley find themselves in now-a good/great boxer who is less than entertaining when they are actually in the ring.
But is entertainment value alone enough to raise a fighter to boxing immortality? Yes and No. Mickey Ward has provided more than his share of exciting fights throughout his career, yet he is not exalted to the heights of the greats. Obviously skill alone is not enough to earn a pugilist the title of best ever. While skill is paramount to winning fights, it’s not exactly the only ingredient that legendary legacies are made of. A quick appraisal of Ali would attest to that fact. According to former World Heavyweight Champion and former sparring partner of Ali, Larry Holmes, the “Greatest Ever” was lacking in terms of boxing skill. That’s boxing skill, not fighting ability.
Cus D’amato said,”… the differences between individual boxers is not so great but that character makes the difference.” According to the great D’amato, it’s a fighter’s character that separates them from the rest. It’s the character of the greats like Robinson, Leonard and Ali that made them the greats they are. It was Robinson’s character that led him to avenge his first loss three weeks after it happened. It was Leonard’s character that drove him to fight the greats of his generation. It was Ali’s character that reached deep down and found a way to beat Foreman after his dancing didn’t work in the first round. It was the character of all three to not only fight the best, but to “bring that ass” while they did it. It was their character that made them great in the ring and outside of it. It’s who they were as people that dictated who they would be as fighters. True greatness, it seems, is built upon a foundation of great character and the ability to see it through.
Here is where Floyd finds himself wanting despite his great skill and where Manny Pacquiao is in abundance despite his lack of obvious skill. If we look at who they are as people and examine their character, it’s easy to see why Manny is being held among the greats. D’amato also says, “Boxing is entertainment, so to be successful a fighter must not only win but he must win in an exciting manner. He must throw punches with bad intentions.” It’s not just winning, but how you do it. Simply put, Manny “brings that ass” while Floyd doesn’t.
People may note that Manny’s recent opponents have been over matched and cite that as the reason why he looks so good. Again, it’s not that he looked good, but the manner in which he looked good. Carlos Baldomir and Juan Manuel Marquez were equally over matched against Floyd. And while he looked good from a boxing stand point, he failed to “bring that ass” or “win in an exciting manner.” For all his skill and talent, he doesn’t use it in the same manner as Robinson, Leonard, Ali, and Pacquiao. What makes it somewhat frustrating to his fans is that he has the ability to do so. His performances he put on against Gatti and Corrales is absolute proof of what Floyd is capable of. It’s simply not within his character to put on that kind of performance on a consistent basis. Floyd is the closest to achieving absolute greatness by virtue of his skill but fails to realize it based on what he isn’t willing to do to attain it. Sure, the guy makes money, but boxing immortality can’t be bought. Like the greats of the past, it must be earned. Floyd, aside from his skill as a boxer, does nothing to deserve the same respect.
In contrast to this, Manny Pacquiao gives fans what they want. He doesn’t rely on boxing skill to win, but uses raw fighting ability to destroy his opponents. Not only that, he’s humble. He smiles when he walks to the ring. He allows his opponents to get free shots in a gesture of sportsmanship. He cares about the interest of the fans, when Mayweather could appear to care less. Manny does this because it’s in his character to do so. The school that Mayweather was brought up in was the one of boxing and making money. That place that Ali found himself after the first round against Foreman was the school that Manny was brought up in. While Floyd refined his skills as a pugilist, Manny was busy molding his character. It’s the person who Floyd chooses to be that keeps him from greatness, while it’s the person who Manny chooses to be that raises him to it. Pep was a better pure boxer than Robinson, but Robinson is the greatest fighter ever.
Without Manny Pacquiao, there would be no other choice as to who reigns supreme in this generation. Floyd’s skills cannot be ignored. Manny brings a light to the sport that Floyd cannot or, probably more accurately, chooses not to. Is it too late for Floyd Mayweather? Absolutely not. It’s unfair to judge a man’s life before it’s over or his legacy before he’s left it. Legacy is simply the story that is told when the dust settles. Floyd’s is far from over.