It has been 40 years since the term ‘fight of the century’ has been thrown into a ring.
The year was 1975 and millions tuned in to watch as the critically-acclaimed mega fighter Muhammad Ali took on Joe Frazier, following a suspension and the stripping of Ali’s belt for refusal to join the armed forces in 1967.
Not since the 1975 ‘Thrilla in Manilla’ match up between Ali and Frazier has the world seen a boxing match-up comparable to that of the May 2nd bout between Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao and Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather.
The circus-like atmosphere of the monumental moment in boxing history was the result of months of media hype climbing to its pinnacle as the bitter rivalry between the two had come to a boiling point.
Again the world has bore witness to the culmination of a defining moment in boxing history with the ‘MayPac’ match-up between the 38-year-old undefeated Mayweather, a Grand Rapids, Michagan native and the 37-year-old Kibawe, Phillipines native – Pacquiao who holds a record of 57-5-2.
Just as underdog Ali ‘moved like a butterfly and stung like a bee’ to defeat Frazier in the last great boxing match of the 20th century, so too shall his neo-counterpart Pacquiao hope to take down the undefeated Mayweather and in turn be named the welterweight champion of the world.
The fight has been in the works since as early as 2007, but due in large part to Mayweather’s well-known ego the match has failed to proceed until now. In case you were wondering what kind of person both Mayweather and Pacquiao are – it is easily depicted in who each person has rooting for them.
Pacquiao holds the support of the great one himself, Ali – now 73-years-old. With Ali’s daughter Rashida Ali telling TMZ in an interview that her father is an open supporter of the Philippines-born boxer. She stated his support is due in large part to Pacquiao’s character outside of the ring in which he openly donates his time and finances to charitable causes.
Mayweather on the other hand will walk into the ring of the May 2nd super fight with no other than pop superstar Justin Bieber in his entourage of annoying celebrities.
Again it is visible to see differences in the two boxer’s character when looking at the mouth guards of the individual fighters to be worn on the eve of the fight, which will be held at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao’s mouth guard is custom-made and given to him as a gift by his longtime dentist Dr. Ed Dela who has added in extra layers of protection and is a motley tie-dye mix of the Philippine’s flag colours – red, blue, yellow and white.
Mayweather’s mouth guard packs a pretty price tag of $25,000 – composed of diamond dust, gold flakes and cut up $100 bills.
The match between the two is estimated by experts to be the highest grossing boxing match of all time, with an estimated $400 million revenue stream and tickets for the event ranging from $3,500 upwards to $250,000 and an estimated pay-per-view cost of $89.95(US) for standard definition and $99.95(US) for high definition.
Contract deliberations on the part of Mayweather halted negotiations for a number of years but were finally settled when it was decided he would receive 60-40 money split from profits made.
It is easy to say Pacquiao is the Muhammad of our time when looking at not only their fighting abilities and critical acclaim, but also the roles they played in their respective political landscapes.
Muhammad’s refusal to serve in the army following his draft to the Vietnam War gave the American people a reason to object the war.
He was later quoted in a press conference stating, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over.”
New York Times columnist William Rhoden wrote, “Ali’s actions changed my standard of what constituted an athlete’s greatness. Possessing a killer jump shot or the ability to stop on a dime was no longer enough. What were you doing for the liberation of your people? What were you doing to help your country live up to the covenant of its founding principles?”
In this notion alone Pacquiao’s skills far surpass that of Mayweather’s, as he is an active member of his home country’s government having been voted in as a congressman in 2010 and again in 2013.
Decide for yourself who deserves to win the May 2nd bout, but in observation of the two fighter’s lives, my vote is on Pacquiao.