What a Victory Means for Mayweather
Leading up to the fight, Mayweather is expected to make a lot of noise on how he is the best boxer in the world, and state most clearly that he will destroy Pacquiao in the ring. Floyd "went the extra mile" in his tantrums in the weeks leading up to his fight with Oscar de la Hoya in 2007.
In a television interview, he confessed that such antics is a way to increase the marketability of a fight. Nothing new for boxing fans. At this level, the participants - whether promoters, trainers, or fighters themselves - are adept at "reaching out" to the customer base.
Observers do get the sense, judging from Floyd's behavior in taunting his opponents, that there is plenty of authenticity in this juiced up gesture. When he degrades his opponent, he really does mean it. It's war.
Many athletes psyche themselves up before a major contest, the extra energy they hope translates to improved performance in the arena of battle - just like soldiers.
A victory over Pacquiao reinforces Mayweather's superior boxing talents, with the best defense in boxing since Pernell "Sweat Pea" Whitaker's brilliance in the ring from the late 1980's to the late 90's.
Moreover, doubts as to his ability to deftly escape and effectively counter a puncher's attacks will quickly dissipate. There is a reason why he was considered, and still is in many circles, simply the best prize fighter in the post Roy Jones era.
Efforts at questioning his gifted ring generalship and talents are often - perhaps very validly - met with, "come on, let's be realistic." Harsh realism - the naked display of superiority in hand speed, punching accuracy, defensive footwork and positioning.
Pacquiao Mayweather is ultimately a fight between two individuals inside the squared circle - promoters, endorsers, and fans are not physically involved in the match. It's the talent of Boxer #1 going against the talent of Boxer #2.
Hype, theory, speculations, and musings can never substitute for dozens upon dozens of jabs, power punches, hooks, and body shots aimed at producing a nasty cut, a swollen eye, and damage to the body.
As General Douglas MacArthur proclaimed that in war, there is no substitute for victory. So in boxing, hype, perception, and prediction are no substitute for war.
And depending as to how convincing and resounding Mayweather's victory is, can potentially degrade the level of boxing insights Pac's followers have. "I told you so" will perhaps become the most echoed sentiment in sports for the next few months.
For Floyd, however, Pac remains one piece of the puzzle we call boxing legacy. Manny may well be Floyd's last opponent in the ring - ever. The purist fight fan can only imagine, probably in frustration, the "what could have been" of Floyd's career.
The great bouts that never took place. The clashes with Mosley, Cotto, and Margarito that never materialized. The wars that never came - after an army has been assembled and fitted with the best arsenal a munitions corporation can muster. Floyd has been content to win, win, and win. Most of his bouts seem to have been elevated sparring sessions - training exercises for a boxing master who was never truly pushed to the limit. Still, no critic can ever degrade his accomplishments. Mayweather has memorialized his high station with results.
In the stellar words of Theodore Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
In Floyd's own personal preferences, in his solitary recesses, he has come to peace with himself on this regard. He is answerable to himself. He has always delivered - on his own terms.
Pac is no light foe. Mayweather leading the "People's Champ" to a bloody and merciless "fall off a cliff" serves not as an elevation of status - but the maintenance of it. As nasty as Floyd's remarks may be, this dynamic mirrors the nasty way in which opponents who stand in his way are helped off the canvas.
And in a relatively blunt and exceedingly confident conveyance by a poem:
You won't find my coordinates.
I am in constant translation.
My position is unknown.
You can use all your fancy formulas and equations,
but you'll never be able
to put a function to my name.
Your seemingly radical moves
were only repeated rotations.
Now your pyramids are crushed,
and your cylinders are empty.
You were once at the zenith
of your parabolic dominance.
Now you're on your way down.
What A Pacquiao Victory Means
It is most plausible that Manny enters the fight an underdog against Mayweather. Such preliminary odds, however, are not without its kinks in the armour. A showdown in the fall of 2009 means Mayweather will have been away from boxing for close to two years. Over 700 days away from peak performance, from mental zenith (as it pertains to fighting).
Still, victory despite unfavorable settings has made Pacquiao an exception from the many, even amongst elite competitors. Manny has come a long way since his boyhood roots in General Santos City, Philippines. No observer can provide a meaningful alternative regarding an athlete / hero who has overcome as much as Manny has.
A Pacquiao victory over Floyd Mayweather is the ultimate validation of Pacquiao as an exemplar of modern legend - at the Hank Armstrong stratosphere.
His journey has been a combination of pursuing his passion and calling in prize fighting, in helping to support his family, in bringing pride to his country as well as bringing self-respect to every Filipino, and in showing anyone and everyone who are in desperate circumstances in the forgotten corners of the world, that one's destiny lies in one's choices, guts, and resolute determination.
In boxing, we come to the harsh reality that noise matters not - ultimately, when the bell rings, a brutal struggle between two individuals ensue - similar to the times when the world witnessed gladiators in Rome fight to the death.
As much as the humanities have advanced over the millenia, each of us - each sports and boxing individual - trace our core being to our ruthless, merciless roots. We - by way of our ancestors - connect and link to a tradition of brutal fights for survival. Regardless of current society or geographical locale.
Seemingly, Manny has long ago quit undergoing the struggle for himself alone. He has embraced the struggle to elevate, first his immediate family, then his larger national family, then to everyone who is a fan of boxing and those who wish to overcome adversity themselves.
The fight to defeat a singular opponent in the ring is juxtaposed with Manny's desire to be of service to others. An example of victory despite the odds.
A Pacquiao victory re-writes what is possible in the minds of men. Gone is the longing for mere boxing legacy. The self has transcended itself. Example. Template. Hymn. In the days of George Washington, such deeds may be inscribed in folklore, prose, or songs.
Pacquiao may be regarded as a fierce and relentless attacker and mauler. Experts and the sport's sages have never accorded him with superior boxing skills, in the technical sense. Technique involves nuances and movement beyond punching power.
It is the size of this hero's heart, determination, and grit that has made the compelling prize fighter. The Hero's victory over the Master carves his statue in the hearts of his people, in the minds of sports fans, and in the Parthenon of boxing.
And to those who may witness his example outside of the ring, beyond the gladiator's arena, may well again recall the values of their own cultural roots: of duty, honor, and country. As higher values than contemporary time's emphasis on material advancement.
2009 is Manny's last year in boxing. He will have become retired in 2010. And most likely an elected public official in the Philippines. Like the boy who clawed out of his abyss in scraping for food for himself, his mother, and his siblings, his last year in boxing - for the last time, brings utter urgency.
In perhaps his last fight, Manny closes out his career having become desperate again. Desperation. Urgency. Shining example.
Another national hero, Ninoy Aquino, had a favorite quote (by Eric Hoffer): "There is sublime thieving in all giving. Someone gives us all he has and we are his."
Fitting that a man who gave his all - is given all.