The Boxer’s Pride: Served Two Ways

The Fight of The Century. The fight they were talking about for 5 years, and complained about it for hours afterwards, including yours truly.

I’m here to share a reflection that maybe it actually was a classic, but in ways that weren’t obvious, and in layers maybe we’ll never know. Or we’ll continue to learn in the coming days as everyone collectively learns how human these fighters are compared to the demigods that we were building them up as in the last couple months. Not to say that Floyd and Manny are normal humans. They represent the absolute pinnacle of human athleticism combined with one of the oldest of martial arts. They both carry the pride and spirit of champions past, but just a way we’re not used to yet.

The narratives coming into the fight were unusually flipped, where Mayweather was the one subdued in public, actually not claiming yet to win but touting supreme and cautious confidence. Critics of Floyd were already calling him scared, and even as the fight progressed, his own father claimed how he was fighting scared. Manny on the other hand flew early from the islands to Los Angeles eager to start camp before the fight was even announced. If being Filipino is a source, that just fueled the flame for fans anticipating the fight being made. Freddie Roach immediately began a campaign, marketing his 5-year gameplan and commenting on how pleased camp was progressing, even as rumors now swirled on how the camp hid details like injuries in plain sight.

Then the fight actually happened, and both fighters demonstrated why they were number 1 and 2 in the world. Except 1 was several stories upwards from 2, and 2 was flights up from 3 to N. And as the fight progressed and I was in fact only now realizing that we were watching the Floyd Mayweather Jr. show, and the champion’s adjustments slowly pulled away from the challenger.

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The fight ended and Floyd immediately stood on the ropes and told the crowd “I won.” He crossed his arms and let the rain of boos wash over him. Manny took a while, but raised his arms, however he couldn’t feign, his head wasn’t raised. Floyd’s smiled shone through, as if he hasn’t smiled in years, and was gracious to his opponent for what seemed like the first time ever amongst the 47 previous opponents.  “Thank you for marketing for me, those Foot Locker commercials, for bringing your fans, and giving me your best.” He seemed to say. Manny’s body might not have been 100% able, but his pride drove his legs to the steps of the canvas. Now, Manny seemed more broken than ever. Floyd thanked God, while Manny cursed his under an ever-amicable smile.

In his storied past, Pacquiao’s raw talents brought him out of the streets and into the land of lucrative prizefights. If God had ushered Manny to discover his gifts, it was Man that led him astray. His so-called yes-men had driven every decision in his life since his sensational strings of fights and displays of courage. He was yet refined, and reminded people about boxing’s savage past, and brought hope to simple men in a simple country. Yet that simpleness was exploited, all the way to the last hour where in pride and simple loyalty he could not even predict his own future. Instead his “team” and Bob Arum will determine his future.

On the other hand, Floyd celebrated as soon as he heard the clap of the 10 second mark. As his internal clocked wound to 48-0, his resume grew to one more champion defeated, and he relished the words he would impart to his doubters. But something tells me this win was different, how happy he was. Floyd was arguably already transforming into the affable personality hidden underneath the riches, his gifts, his vision. The prime example of the self made man making unheard business moves on a shark-infested environment, he seemed to finally allow himself to celebrate his accomplishments and shed his persona. He only has one fight left, what left does he have to hide?

As for Manny, I hope he can ask his own heart of his desires. A man of responsibility, he has carried a burden too big, in the name of God, to ever start complaining about what own needs are… but he should, and I hope he does. He carries an old soul derived from the great champions of the past, who at times carried their burden/debt/sins/guilt/pride to their death. Floyd is fiercely fighting that archetype, believing that champions who have served the sport deserve the best of this life. That new pride is a needed evolution for the souls in this sport, and will define its future. Cheers, everyone.


T-30 Days: A Look at Manny Pacquiao

Continuing our analysis, now 30 days out from the biggest boxing match of our generation, we take a look at Manny Pacquiao. Please do take a look at the quick treatise we made for his opponent, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

I’ve started talking in the previous post on how us, the BMB team, started this blog to document the sport through it’s transformative years with Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a focal point. Just as Yin cannot exist without a Yang, Manny Pacquiao has also been a main BMB focal point in a style that cannot be any more different to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Manny, in contrast, is similarly difficult to write about amongst other boxing journalists in the sport because of the weight of his name, his image, his legacy, and especially, his country. It’s hard to speak about him as a fighter when he is literally and figuratively representing humble beginnings that are still happening in the nation of the Philippines. As a Filipino-American, I struggle, because hyphenated identities are still defining their legacy, but Manny had arguably moved that legacy forward since moving to Los Angeles. Filipino-Americans welcomed him with open arms and joined to train with him and (hopefully) respecting his desires to focus on this fight. It was telling to see Manny fly early to the Wild Card gym to train for this fight, maybe not as an eager move to prepare, but to escape the pressures of a whole nation that desperately pleads for his victory. I feel Manny is truly grateful to fight the best, and is eager for a chance to prove himself, and would rather focus on that feeling once he is across the ring with the champion rather than feel the weight of his country on his shoulders. He finds solace in his light personality and is trying to enjoy the event, rather than be reminded that at one point he was fighting to feed himself and his family.

Looking past Manny as an icon, I believe we see someone that truly any Filipino and immigrant could relate to. “Manong” Manny, as his crew calls him now is 2 years younger than Floyd Mayweather, but has to his claim a family of kids almost as tall as he is now. He commands respect in circles not necessarily political because he’s put the work and earned it many times over. However, he graciously polite to anyone as he would be polite to any stranger. His energetic humor is something that quite isn’t represented in American channels just because the general public likes to think of him as a cosmopolitan, but I just see him as supremely restless and ravenously hungry for opportunity. It’s as if his appetite for experience has scaled up proportionately compared to his wealth and status, starting from fighting as a young, homeless boy. He still retains a world-view as light as a kid with a whole day of adventure and opportunity ahead of him.

This is why the matchup is tantalizing, electrifying, and beyond predictable. If Floyd is a spiteful retaliator, Manny is an “Opportunity Maximizer”, as his volume-punching style hides the fact that every one of his punches immediately changes his outlook and informs his next action, within milliseconds. His feints shake opponents to the core, allowing him to capitalize with blows that could fall a man twice his weight. Over the years he’s also been able to change his game by introducing better feints, head movement, and foot placement. People talk about his speed, but what really makes Manny a threat is his eye for offense, offense, and continued offense. If Floyd is training to fight one fight 3 times over, Manny is training to fight 3 times the opponents in one fight.

Applauding Manny’s style is not fair without comment on his knockout in the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez. I could’ve written of the similar contrast in styles with Marquez and Pacquiao, but I think all commentary of this argument actually undervalues the preparation and work Marquez displayed, and the deserving result of that fight and arguably his fights with Manny before. In the end what I see is 30 rounds to 18. Manny still consistently shows evidence of a world-beater, and his knockout is just him playing the cruel numbers game. Marquez was focused on redemption and he got it.

What is upcoming is 12 rounds on May 2nd. If Manny isn’t as focused in those 12 rounds on redeeming the 47 other fighters that couldn’t pull off a win, he will not succeed. But I believe the styles for that night are perfect, and I just hope the execution reveals character and action in both fighters that we have never seen before. Manny’s outlook on recent media has been nothing but happy and eager, and to me, that’s a good sign. It’s a telling signs that understands what Mayweather is capable of doing and how he may in turn respond. Will Manny see opportunities in the best boxer in the world? Or will he too, fall to Mayweather’s traps and his authority of confidence? It seems like even though Manny is the Vegas underdog, the world is behind him, and cheering for his victory, including myself. However, even though I’m scared, I take comfort in Manny’s knowing smile, that everything will be OK.


Freddie Roach Wants a 5th Fight


By Rudy Mondragón

Freddie Roach, trainer of the famous Manny Pacquiao has stated that he prefers not to have a tune up fight in April and would rather have his fighter jump into a fifth fight against Juan M Marquez.

In an interview with Fight Hub TV, Roach shared that there is talk about a tune up fight in Macau, a fight that would feature both Pacquiao and Marquez together against different opponents. The plan would be to set up a 5th mega fight between Pacquiao and Marquez. Roach feels that Manny Pacquiao is the type of fighter that does not need a tuneup fight. He says his fighter will get back on the horse and prepare for a 5th fight.

After the devastating knockout that Manny Pacquiao experienced against Juan M Marquez in December of 2012, it only makes sense for Pacquiao to have a tuneup fight in April to a) regain his confidence and b) use the April fight to assess whether or not Pacquiao has seriously declined in his boxing game. Ask big name (hall of fame) fighters what a knockout does to a fighter. George Foreman once stated that he had nightmares after M Ali dropped him in the Rumble in the Jungle.  It takes time and rebuilding for a fighter who has suffered a blackout, knocked the fuck out knockout as did Pacquiao.

My thoughts: Take the tune up fight and assess your life after that. And if after that April fight you assess that you need to walk away from the boxing game and focus on your political career, acting, singing, and physical/mental health, then so be it. On the flip side, Freddie and Team Pacquiao might not want a tune up fight in April because there is a risk of Pacquiao losing. Pacman losing in April means that a November, mega payday showdown between him and Marquez would no longer generate interest from the boxing community.