Pacquiao vs Mayweather: take it to the ring, guys!

December 29, 2009

As my boss loves to tell me, everything about me makes sense except for one: my love of boxing. I’m smart (highly educated, at least), passionate (no kidding?), level-headed (erhm, sure), and rational (now I’m blushing) — so how is it that I can delight in watching a sport where two guys strip to their skivvies and beat each other to a bloody pulp with giant, plastic oven mitts?

The answer is simple, really. It’s not that boxing is a violent sport (although it clearly can be), it’s that there’s more to boxing than the pummelling. Boxing is actually a thinking man’s sport, as strategic as chess but far more exciting. In boxing, each boxer is armed with nothing more than his (or her) fists and his wits, and he is charged with disarming his opponents defense’s. The boxer must stick to a pre-determined strategy that minimizes his opponent’s strengths while taking advantage of his opponent’s weaknesses (Stay out of  reach? Move in tight to pin him down?) while adapting to minute-by-minute information (for example, determining that the right uppercut has connected most times, so altering the strategy to use that shot as much as possible). Moreover, the fight is more than street brawl; fights go for a pre-determined number of rounds and, in the event that neither boxer is knocked out, the winner is determined by the average score of three judges. These judges award points in each round based on how well each boxer does: this can include how many shots he has landed (vs. how many thrown), how active has he been (how many shots thrown vs. just standing there) and whether or not he looks winded. That means that on top of sticking to a strategy, a boxer must strategically increase activity or conserve energy to ensure that he wins on the score cards but still has the endurance to make it through the entire fight if he needs to.

And on top of having to do all that thinking, you’re getting punched repeatedly on the side of the head by a guy who can probably curl a Backstreet Boy with his biceps. Which means you have to have some serious presence-of-mind to maintain a coherent thought under boxing circumstances, let alone enough intellectual acuity to win a fight. Or let’s put it another way: as smart as I might be, I definitely couldn’t focus on my research if my lab-mates kept running up and hitting me in the jaw between aliquoting.

Another reason to love boxing? Well, it just so happens that this year’s current #1 pound-for-pound best professional boxer in the world (as judged by the sports premier magazine, Ring Magazine) is a Filipino boxer by the name of Manny Pacquiao (pictured above). In what other sport (short of something stereotypical like karate) can you see an Asian guy be unanimously praised to be the most testosterone-fueled, most athletically-built, most hardcore guy there is? Asian Men: 1, Emasculated Asian Man Stereotype: 0.

But, boxing also comes with it’s own kind of drama. Pacquiao, as it turns out, took Ring Magazine‘s pound-for-pound honour from one Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who is probably the best American boxer currently fighting. Mayweather is a flashy fighter, but beneath his over-abundance of personality, he’s amongst the fastest and most skilled boxers the sport has to offer. He boasts an undefeated record, and even wiped the floor with boxing favourite Oscar De La Hoya. Boxing fans and critics have long clamoured for a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao, and recently they (we?) were gratified with word of a verbal agreement that the fighters would clash on March 13th, 2010.

With any scheduled fight, there comes an expected amount of hype. Fights generate more revenue when the fighters appear to be settling some sort of interpersonal gripe, and it’s not uncommon for boxers to jab verbally (via the press, who eats this stuff up) in the weeks leading up to a fight. This manufactured “beef” can range from one opponent calling the other weak or diminishing his recent victories… although, unlike in WWE, it’s usually not over a beautiful woman dressed in a blue and red sequinned cat-suit. But, in some cases, the pre-fight back-and-forth can cross a line that makes fans question whether there really are interpersonal issues involved, or if it’s all show business.

In the case of Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, the arguments stem from (what I would call) a rather racist charge against Pacquiao by the Mayweather camp. Basically, Mayweather’s father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., accused Manny Pacquiao of taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs)  in order to achieve the level of athleticism that has allowed him to be the first boxer to earn seven championship titles in seven different weight classes (no easy feat because you essentially have to re-learn how to box, and chang eyour strategy, every time you change your weight).

The basis for this claim? Well, the Phillipines (apparently) make some of the best PEDs around, and Manny Pacquiao is Filipino.

As if the Phillipines are so swamped in PEDs that Pacquiao was walking down the streets of Manila one day, when he tripped and fell into a vat of human growth hormone.

Let’s be clear: that shit is racist. The accusations being lobbed against Pacquiao have nothing to do with any actual evidence that he’s taking steroids (except that he’s a buff Asian dude — ‘cuz like, what, Asian dudes can’t be buff?). Instead, it is equating the actions of criminals in the Phillipines with Manny Pacquiao’s morality and ethics. If Pacquiao were from Southern California, would Mayweather be accusing Pacquiao of having an addiction to frappucinos and surfer shorts? And by the same logic, my parents are from China, ergo my family must make our money manufacturing mercury-laden toys, right?

The really frustrating part of it all is that Pacquiao is willing to prove he’s not a druggie, but he’s not willing to jeopardize his performance to satisfy what he insists is a bogus charge. Mayweather’s camp has insisted that both fighters submit themselves to random blood and urine testing before and after the scheduled March 13th fight. Pacquiao agreed to random testing, but drew the line at random blood testing leading all the way up to the fight. He was concerned (and rightly so) that he could be woken up in the middle of the night a day or two before the scheduled fight in order to have blood drawn. Instead, Pacquiao wanted Mayweather to agree that testing be stopped a week before the fight to give both boxers a chance to rest and prepare for the big day.

And, that’s where we’re at. The biggest fight that boxing has ever seen — one that could generate obscene amounts of money — is being derailed over a racist accusation and a butt-load of drama.

Personally, I’m normally not one to spend money on HBO pay-per-view boxing (each fight costs something in the ballpark of $50 to watch!) but I would shell out for Pacquiao vs. Mayweather. Why? Mainly because I’m really not sure who would win that fight. Mayweather has a reach advantage (which he always uses to supreme advantage), lots of power behind his punches, an undefeated record, and lightning fast speed. Yet, Pacquiao is also an agile, active, and adaptible fighter who fights southpaw, which can often throw boxers in a conventional stance for a loop.

Which is my long, round-about way of saying that Mayweather and Pacquiao need to quit with the threats, the ultimatums, and the interpersonal drama. Stop with the posturing, and yes, even the racism — and take the fight to the ring, guys!

  • Keith

    No offense Jenn, but Pacquiao did go up 7 weight classes, with no real signs of it affecting his speed, power, or reaction time. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that. I see no problems with Mayweather asking for a test he will be taking himself.

  • Sandy

    Woah, this sounds exciting and I’m not even into sports! 😛 At all. Which is clearly a problem as sports is one of those fields that can easily get away with racism and hyper-masculinization. Thank goodness I read your blog for these issues then. 😛

    Anyway, the real point of this post: “Asian Men: 1, Emasculated Asian Man Stereotype: 0.” FUCK YEAH! FUCK YEAH! I can’t even begin to count the number of stereotypes geared towards Asian men on a daily basis in order to de-masculinize them OR turn them into violent abusers. And let’s not forget the different groups of racialized men who are unfairly subject to other stereotypes as well. And literally above all of this, American, white men are hailed as the REAL masculine heroes in both literal and figurative terms. THIS is precisely why national stories, war contributions, humanitarian missions, sporting events, etc. are all fucking distorted!

    Of course, popular culture and the media doesn’t help.. AT ALL.

  • “No offense Jenn, but Pacquiao did go up 7 weight classes, with no real signs of it affecting his speed, power, or reaction time. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that. I see no problems with Mayweather asking for a test he will be taking himself.”

    None taken!

    Yeah, Pacquiao did go up 7 weight classes, but I think he’s naturally a smaller boxer, which means that even at the higher weight classes, he suffers with having less power. Mayweather has the fastest hands in boxing, and from what I’ve seen of Pacquiao, though he’s fast, he’s not going to be fast enough. Add that to the reach advantage and the fact that I think Pacquiao has a tendancy to leave his sides open, and I think Mayweather will take it.

    HOWEVER, if Mayweather doesn’t take it by TKO, I think the scorecards will favour Pacquiao. Pacquiao’s extremely active, and I think that will benefit him with the judges.

    @Sandy: Amen!

  • Pacquaio is one of the good boxers fighter in the world and also Mayweather Jr. why should they not try to fight on March 13, 2009 – in My Opinion i think Mayweather Jr. is afraid to fight Manny because of the energetic extra ordinary power punch of Manny.
    http://jcabulong.blogspot.com/2009/12/boxing-pacquiao-sues-mayweather-for.html

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  • James

    Look. Mayweather is the best boxer in the world today. Period. Manny Pacquiao is a great boxer, and has been for years. But Floyd Mayweather is the best. Everyone’s beaten Oscar de la Hoya at least once, so the fact that Pacquiao’s elevation to prominence has occurred after that fight says to me that this is another example of the boxing world attempting to revive itself with a blockbuster event.

    Consider: Floyd Mayweather ‘retires’ after beating de la Hoya and practically everyone else of note available, and only a few months go by before boxing decides that Manny Pacquiao can eliminate their Negro problem. Don’t agree? Well, boxing has a history of seeking out White champions to sell tickets to White fans who desire a great White hope. Pacquiao’s been a great fighter for a long, long time. Why sell him as the post-racial Rocky?

    Because Black boxing champions have never made Americans comfortable, and every chance professional boxing has had to promote a non-Black champion, it’s made a lot of money (remember the Klitchscko brothers, anyone?). So send Manny Pacquiao up against Mayweather, why not? But amid all the Asian American pride, let’s hope people recognize that eliminating a Black champion from the ranks of boxing’s greats pays the bills for this fight.

  • This is when the UFC needs the fans support the most. If you call yourself a real MMA fan then you support the sport through the good times and the bad times.

  • “Consider: Floyd Mayweather ‘retires’ after beating de la Hoya and practically everyone else of note available, and only a few months go by before boxing decides that Manny Pacquiao can eliminate their Negro problem. Don’t agree? Well, boxing has a history of seeking out White champions to sell tickets to White fans who desire a great White hope. Pacquiao’s been a great fighter for a long, long time. Why sell him as the post-racial Rocky?”

    So basically you’re saying that they’re hyping Pacquiao only because the media likens him to a White man and wants to get rid of a black guy? I hadn’t heard that theory before. I guess I’m happy that the American media, according to your theory, likens us to White people. Hopefully that’ll result in more of us getting acting jobs in Hollywood.

    Mayweather is scared of Pacquiao. I don’t know who would win, but it’s clear that he’s trying to avoid the Pac-Man’s power. It looks like the fight is off again:

    http://www.upi.com/Sports_News/2010/01/07/Pacquiao-Mayweather-fight-off-again/UPI-43091262887258/

  • Ken

    Floyd is undefeated because for years he has ducked the best welterweights. The best welterweight he has fought was against Baldomir, a crap champion. Being undefeated doesn’t mean anything if you don’t face the challenges out there. Floyd ducked Margarito, Cotto, Mosley, Paul Williams. He fought a fat old Marquez that had to jump up 2 weight classes and is praise for it.

    Manny on the other hand fights Cotto, and now they are saying Cotto was damaged goods and weight drain. They said Hatton was shot, they said De La hoya was shot and weight drain. They then said Morales was shot when Manny beats him twice. They also said Barrera was shot when Manny beat him. Then you throw in the PED issue and all of his accomplishments are being erased. Gotta love the American media.

    BTW, Manny was a 16 year old kid when he started boxing at 106. Your body changes as you get older, it’s not PEDs folks. Mayweather was 106 at the same age and fought at 154 but no one says anything about that. It’s funny when an Asian male does it, he’s on steroids and fights past their prime fighters.

  • Keith

    @Ken – Can you be anymore of a hypocrite? and for the record Mayweather didn’t go up 7 weight classes like Pacquiao did, and Pacquiao struggled early when he first went up a weight class at that.

  • Ken

    @Keith

    Mayweather didn’t go pro like Pacman did at 16 he was still in the amateurs. But they were at the same weight at the same age, but 1 had access to all the nutritious food in a 1st world country while Pacman was malnourished and fighting for survival in a 3rd world country. But both of them also gain weight throught the years.

    What weight did Pacman struggle at when he went up? 122? 126? 130? BTW, you said what Pacman did has never been done before in boxing in your 1st post on this subject. Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Hank Armstrong did it. They kept their power and speed in the case of the latter 2. Were they on PEDs also? Just in their case there wasn’t 17 weight classes today. Of course if Pacman was fighting in their time, he wouldn’t be a 7 weight champ, but it has been done before.

    Even Larry Merchant and boxing experts said what Pacman did has been done before, the mainstream media is acting like it’s never been done because of the modern standard of 7 weight classes and therefore it’s suspicious, but it’s not suspicious for all time great fighters have done it in the past. That’s the article. You’re saying you know more than boxing experts?

    http://boxing.fanhouse.com/2010/01/03/hbos-larry-merchant-on-floyd-mayweather-manny-pacquiao/

  • Keith

    @Ken

    Larry Merchant isn’t a group of experts he is a sports commentator who has never trained as a fighter, trained fighters, or fought professionally; who often runs his mouth for the sake of running his mouth.

    .2) [quote]you said what Pacman did has never been done before in boxing in your 1st post on this subject.[/quote]

    Wrong, I said and I QUOTE:

    [quote]No offense Jenn, but Pacquiao did go up 7 weight classes, with no real signs of it affecting his speed, power, or reaction time.[/quote]

    Now out of the people you mentioned only Oscar De La Hoya managed to go up 7 classes but failed to maintain his speed, power and reaction time.

    Henry Armstrong: Debuted at 120 pounds, won world titles at 126, 135, tanked@147

    Alexis Arguello: Won titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140.

    Oscar De La Hoya: Debuted at 133, won world titles at 130, 135, 140, 147, 154 tanked@160.

    Roberto Duran: Debuted at 118, won titles at 135, 147, 154, tanked@160

    Tommy Hearns: Debuted at 147, won titles at 147, 154, 160, 168 tanked@175.

    Sugar Ray Leonard: Debuted at 141, won titles at 147, 154, 160 tanked@168

    Sugar Ray Robinson: Debuted at 134, won titles at 147, 160, tanked@175

    Their is a reason why professional fighters don’t rely on building muscles like body builders.

    And Pacquiao struggled a little at 112 although I don’t really hold that against him

    It’s Funny how you dismiss Mayweather as a fighter.

  • Keith

    Forget what I posted hopefully the fight will get underway.

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  • Jimmy Andy
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