Both boxers had tough upbringings of different kinds, and both are motivated for starkly different reasons – could it come down to who wants it more and for what reason? Very unlikely writes Stephen McGrath.
Floyd Mayweather jr. is unapologetic about putting money above anything and everything else; he is a man known for throwing handfuls of cash into nightclub crowds - watching people scurry around at his feet for a chance to grab some dollar.
Manny Pacquiao is on the other end of the spectrum; known for giving handouts to the poor and needy, providing a funeral service for the lesser off, building hospitals – and helping the country recover from natural disasters.
Before Mayweather’s questionable and self-attained TBE moniker (the best ever), he was known simply as ‘Money’ Mayweather, while Pacquiao rarely turns away anyone who queues up at his doorstep in the Philippines for handouts.
This may be kind of Pacquiao; but not always wise – he is also in big trouble with the taxman and the $100 million plus he’ll likely receive for the May 2megafight is said by some capable of merely putting a dent in pleasing the authorities.
Character can win fans but not fights
When Pacquiao boxes the crime rate plummets to almost zero in the Philippines, the roads become clear of traffic, and May 3 – the date of the megafight in his home country – has been declared a national holiday, where the fight can be viewed for free.
Win or lose, it will be mayhem in the Philippines.
The general feeling is that Pacquiao – the underdog - is the man the world will be routing for to win the showdown against Mayweather on May 2 – as the majority generally are drawn to supporting the good guy – and Pacquiao proves he is this at almost every turn.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, said of his charge: "I went to his [Pacquiao’s] birthday party, the President of the Philippines was there, there were 5,000 people at the party, and 10,000 outside who couldn't get in. He's an icon, because he represents the hopes of so many people."
Pacquiao fought his way to mega-stardom after a tough start to life in the Philippines where as a young boy he sold cigarettes and doughnuts on the streets of Manila to earn a crust, and finally turned to professional boxing at 14 years old.
Mayweather himself had no easy upbringing, his father went to prison when he was just 16, and while there was food on the table there was also instability and substitute father figures. He was a good kid turned self-styled braggart –he fights for his money and now his legacy.
Almost as captivating as this weekend’s Fight of the Century is what each fighter represents as people of power, fame and money.
One is the archetypal all-American overachiever; the other is a character of biblical proportion in his home country, a man who at a guess would substitute his career-high payday in exchange for his countrymen’s happiness in victory.
Despite what fans and critics say, none of this will matter once the bell rings on Saturday night – it will be the a classic case of Best Man Wins.
But a Pacquiao victory would likely feel like the moral one too.
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