No Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather is exactly what boxing needs
Earlier this week in an interview with ESPN, boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, undoubtedly one of the greatest to ever lace 'em up, insisted the sport didn't need guys like Floyd Mayweather and hinted his foe's fame would be a motivating force in his quest to unseat boxing's pound-for-pound champion.
Of course, Pacquiao and Mayweather will fight on May 2 in what is expected to be the biggest fight in history.
Was Manny just trying to hype the fight by blasting Floyd's persona or is that what he really believes?
Taking into consideration PacMan's humility and gentlemanly demeanor, he probably meant it. After all, the fighters have polar opposite personalities so it's quite understandable why a man like Floyd would rub Manny the wrong way.
But regardless of what Pacquiao thinks or says, he couldn't have been more wrong. Boxing needs more fighters like Manny.... and Floyd.
As a matter of fact, the sport needs fighters like Floyd Mayweather every bit as much as it needs role models like Manny Pacquiao, if not more.
Floyd is the highest paid athlete in the world for a reason. Given he's not a knockout artist and casual fans don't find his fighting style terribly exciting, how else could one explain his enormous popularity?
Answer: Over-the-top personality, in-your-face arrogance, extreme controversy, unmitigated outspokenness, sensational swagger, unrepentent obnoxiousness and a lot of 'bling, bling.'
If Floyd were a polite, goody two-shoes, do you think he'd been one tenth as popular as he is? Keep in mind, his ring style isn't as fan-friendly as Manny's or Miguel Cotto.
If Floyd weren't so contentious, do you think this fight would be one-tenth as big as it is?
If not for Floyd's presumably flawed and/or misunderstood character, few outside of boxing would even recognize his name despite his 47-0 record and monumental accomplishments in the sport.
Hence, Floyd would be little more than a better skilled, more accomplished Tim Bradley, and Mayweather vs Pacquiao would be just another PPV fight like Pacquiao vs Bradley I.
And let's face it, most of you wouldn't be reading this if the article was entitled, "Tim Bradley is great for boxing."
Unlike the NFL and NBA, boxers have always been able to 'color outside the lines' a bit and their personalities have endeared them - and the sport - to the public. As a result, the sport has seen its share of colorful fighters who refused to assume a 'prim and proper' role, such as (a young) Muhammad Ali, Jack Johnson, Jake LaMotta, Hector Camacho, Roberto Duran, Mike Tyson, Prince Naseem Hamed and Tyson Fury.
Boxing needs more fighters like Manny, too
But don't fret PacMan faithful, boxing also needs good guys like Manny, Evander Holyfield, Oscar De La Hoya and Vitali Klitschko. Fighters who possess humility or are viewed as all-around good guys give boxing credibility and decency, and the sport could not survive without them. They are role models inside the ring and outside it and they keep the sport honorable and legitimate.
But let's face it, guys like Mayweather, a young Ali, Camacho and Fury who 'go out on a proverbial limb' and inject personality into the sport usually generate far more mainstream interest than their 'nice guy' peers.
... And mainstream interest is healthy for the sport.
Boxing needs more fighters like Manny Pacquiao.... and, yes, Floyd Mayweather. They will be sorely missed when they retire morso for their unique ability to attract and galvanize the masses outside the ring than their freakish skills inside it.
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