Don’t buy the hype
It’s being billed as the fight of the century. Boxing’s last hope. A meal ticket for the media. The superlative generator.
After years of talking and projecting and predicting and wondering, Floyd Mayweather finally meets Manny Pacquiao this Saturday night in Las Vegas.
So we get an elite boxer by trade in the twilight of his career against an elite boxer by name in the twilight of his career. Mayweather is 38 years old. Pacquiao is 36. They’re temporarily propping up a sport losing ground in the image and popularity battle by the day.
The predictable delays and age of both men seem to be mere footnotes that aren’t altering the match’s fantasy feel at all, though. According to the numbers, fans are salivating over this fight in record numbers; Mayweather alone is in line to bring home $180 million of an estimated $300 million purse, win or lose.
That’s $180 million, folks. If the fight goes the distance, he’ll rake in $15 million per round, or $5 million per minute. Minimum.
To put that in perspective, it would take an average nurse, school teacher, police officer or firefighter approximately 100 years to make what Mayweather will “earn” in the first three minutes of Saturday’s fight. Even the riches of New England quarterback Tom Brady — arguably the most famous professional athlete in the United States — pale in comparison ($149 million over his entire career).
Making matters worse, to put it mildly, Mayweather isn’t a good dude. At all. He’s been formally charged with assault seven separate times against five different women since 2001. He spent two months in jail as recently as 2012 for domestic assault and harassment charges.
Look, I’m a boxing guy. Both of my grandfathers loved the sport. My dad and I watched many “headline” matches together through the years, as he did with his father. I’ve read books on Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. I saw Tyson lose to Douglas in Tokyo, Leonard face Hearns and Hagler, Bowe vs. Holyfield.
The hot-button debate of the week has centered around a fan’s threshold for supporting antagonistic figures. Does it matter if a professional athlete is a morally bankrupt human being? Should it matter in the grand scheme of entertainment? How much is too much?
Answers will obviously vary. I’m not saying all of the teams and individuals I support are worthy of sainthood. Far from it. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my individual choices through the years, stubbornly offering every excuse in the book for bad behavior instead of drawing a line in the sand.
But this is where I draw a line in the sand.
I’m sure this fight will be one worth watching, or at least following. But I’m ignoring it altogether. I’ll find something better to do this Saturday night.
Mayweather is about to collect an unseemly amount of money — again — and each $100 pay-per-view click contributes to that. He has every right to that final purse, just like fans have every right to spend their hard-earned money adding to it.
Before you do, though, think about Mayweather’s antics and rap sheet away from the sport. Think about his then-9 year old son’s scribbled handwriting in a two-page police report, describing the vicious attack on his mother at 4 in the morning in 2010.
As fans, we always have the freedom to choose. Yes, it’s only one event. And sure, I’m only one person. But we either feed the beast, or take a stand. I might “miss” something big in the ring on Saturday, but at least my conscience will be crystal clear when I tell boxing, “no mas.”
Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org