By Trigo Egbegi
It’s no shame to confess that I chose to joining issues with the mainstream, after all, over the frenzy and hoopla generated by the speculated ring encounter between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather for all the marbles. It’s been so tempting.
Pro boxing could well steal the thunder in a year (2011) both the Olympics and the World (football) Cup are on vacation. But, whereas the companion world heavyweight title unification fixture involving the Klitschko dynasty (Vs Englishman David Haye) is confirmed, Pacman Vs Mayweather remains the king-sized speculation it has been since a few smart alecs first came up with the idea nearly two years ago.
My friend and colleague, Stanley Opokuma, keeps wondering aloud if ever – and, indeed, when – this presumed mega-event that is expected to surpass any other fixture in the history of ring combat will come up. At this moment of writing, it is still nowhere close to confirming both camps have accepted the challenges and paved the way for formalities to get underway.
Predictably, it is the view of the vast majority that the blitzkrieging Pacquiao will account for the Pretty Boy the same way he had left his last 13 opponents mangled, since embarking on the amazing trans-divisional invasion that has seen the Filipino win 10 titles scanning seven weight classes. Methinks it is because he has never met Mayweather.
It is the established thinking in boxing circles that a boxer – no matter how good he is – tends to leave his punch behind him as he transits to higher categories. True enough, proven ring legends from the past, including Robert ‘Hands of Stone’ Duran and Henry Armstrong, merely overwhelmed their foes with guile and sheer volume of punches thrown.
Pacquiao has proved to be exception to the proven theory, delivering improved versions of the same consuming aggression and punch that is his major forte as one that cannot be resisted by any boxer 147 pounds and under.
However, it is the new shape this cherished event is taking that bothers me. No matter what, boxing is a sport that is played by normal humans, as opposed to the sister wrestling which is largely determined by actors/actresses following the script.
Not that boxing has never had its own script and actors. Perhaps the most notable actor of them all has to be Muhammad Ali who was the game’s greatest salesman. Whatever he did during his active fighting days was intended to promote/sell tickets for his bouts.
Ali called his opponents names for which he may not have been pardoned till this day. He called Joe Frazier an Uncle Tom at the time Ali was contending with the US establishment. Next, he called him a gorilla in the days leading to the memorable Thriller in Manila in 1975.
At that time, Muhammad Ali was beginning to feel the threat of losing his place to a rival who was the main factor while he (Ali) remained inactive. But it was all so decently orchestrated as it left no bad blood with the generality of the populace till this day.
Floyd Mayweather feels the threat of losing his place he had earned during his fighting days. It is 40 months Pretty Boy has been out of contention since dispatching Englishman Ricky Hatton in defense of his welterweight marbles December 2007. He has engaged in just two non-threatening non-title contests vs Juan Marquez and Shane Mosley.
In Mayweather’s absence, Pacquiao has taken over every available space with truly breath-taking performances that have caught all attention. Which leaves the immediate ex-Pound-for-Pound king with very little left.
But while Ali went about the campaign to reclaim his glory from Frazier in a decent way, same cannot be said of what Pretty Boy is up to. Thus far, Mayweather has embarked on a smear campaign that is only marginally short of calling the Filipino an abnormal human activated by drugs.
When Mayweather first demanded Pacman undergo a special blood test a week from the contest as part of the conditions to which acceptance of the proposition is subject, it raised eyebrows questioning the American’s courage. But that was only the beginning of a far more sinister campaign orchestrated underground.
Currently, there’s a flood-gate of internet letters referring to Pacquiao as gay and coming from a country of indecent citizens not fit to live among decent people. It is not known how Pacman and his countrymen are reacting – or will react – to this rather unsporting campaign intended to brand an entire nation in the negative.
To be fair to Mayweather, it is not established that he is directly in link with this new development. Yet, considering his past antecedents which clearly portray him as a brash young man lacking in discipline and self-control, posting such a bill on Pacman is not beyond him.
Outside the ring, I have had the privilege of encountering Pacquiao who, certainly, has a lot to show besides his dizzying accomplishments. His private lifestyle that has thus far, not brought him into any controversy, coupled with his election as a honorable Congressman in his native Philippines, are feats Floyd may never dream of in his whole lifetime.