Thursday, April 30, 2015

Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Money drives American but Pacman saves lives



Manny Pacquiao is more than just a boxer in the Philippines: he is the touchstone, the golden calf, a mythic hero


Manny Pacquiao might just be the one boxer, or indeed the one athlete of any kind, with the ability to save the life of a woman on death row.
It was claimed last night by Bob Arum, his promoter, that a letter the Filipino had sent to the president of Indonesia helped grant the reprieve of Mary Jane Veloso, minutes before she was due to be executed this week alongside eight others for her part in a drug-smuggling ring.
“Manny explained that he was fighting on May 2 and asked him to spare her life,” Arum said. “That shows you the influence he has around the world.”
This extraordinary assertion by Arum, that his boxer had changed the course of a major diplomatic crisis by sealing a reprieve for Veloso as she faced death by firing squad, hints at the power of the Pacquiao effect. For here is a man equally adept at moving global markets. In six of his last 10 fight weeks, the Philippine peso has appreciated against the value of the US dollar, as the deeds of a one-time street urchin from General Santos City galvanised an entire country’s economy.
There is no reason to suspect that the pattern will falter this time. Over 600,000 Filipinos have found their home in Los Angeles, a mere 280 miles from the psychedelic mayhem of the Las Vegas Strip, and as he strode last night into the halls of the MGM Grand it felt like a corner of Nevada had transformed into Little Manila.
At every turn, the crazed chants of “Manny, Manny!” engulfed him. Many of Pacquiao’s disciples bore banners marked ‘T.M.T.’ – The Manny Team’ – in a mischievous appropriation of Floyd Mayweather’s ‘The Money Team’ cult. The lustre of his story, which stretches from tin-shack slums to his investiture as a congressman, shows little sign of waning. To those compatriots who cross the Pacific in search of a perceived idyll in America, he is the touchstone, the golden calf, the anointed ‘National Fist’.
Whenever it is put to Pacquiao that his 36 years of life would make a wonderful film, he reacts with a wry grin, pointing out gently that no big-screen treatment could adequately reflect what he went through. This, after all, is a child who would once beg for a few extra coppers to make porridge for his mother, Dionisia, to survive on.
In that benighted childhood, his version of an innocent pastime was to chase rusting bicycle wheels through the alleys. The conversion to boxing only came about through a cheeky untruth, when, as a 16-year-old, when he stuffed extra weights into his pockets to convince the producers of a TV talent show to take a punt.
“I used to live in the street, starving and hungry, and I could not imagine having the blessings that put me in this position,” Pacquiao said last night in the MGM’s cavernous Ka Theatre. “I want to share that with everybody.”
There is a school of thought, zealously espoused by Mayweather, that if a champion is beaten in one fight it kills the legend forever. Pacquiao is the living lie to such a theory. He lost twice in 2012 alone, first in a contentious split decision against Timothy Bradley and then in a savage knockout by Juan Manuel Márquez, where he was flattened by a sixth-round haymaker. But his public would not relinquish him so easily. A boxer who had been propelled from selling sugar doughnuts, or a Chinese wine called kulafa, to gracing the cover of Time magazine under the headline ‘The Great Hope’, would never be allowed to wither sadly into retirement.
This long-promised confrontation with Mayweather signifies an opportunity he had all but abandoned. All week he has been appearing in adverts for the US shoe company Foot Locker, in a series entitled It’s Really Happening.
“Floyd’s going to fight me!” he cries, in a skit that plays upon his scampish good humour. Even though he is fighting for £65 million, when he used to be happy with a couple of pesos for a street brawl,
his essential exuberance has not changed. It is a trait likely to be borne out inside the ring on Saturday night, as Mayweather’s calculated defence contrasts with Pacquiao’s whirlwind of attack, his one-man threshing machine of perpetual motion.
His connections back in General Santos endure. One of his mother’s cousins, Mejia, still lives there on a dusty plot of land with a fighting cockerel tied to a post, an emblem of the streetfighter’s spirit.
Aptly, the day of the fight will be a public holiday for his 98 million countrymen. He can trust that the vast majority will be gathering around screens wherever they can be found.
At no stage has he ever been resented for his colossal fortune. Filipinos, on the contrary, appear united in his conviction that his humility is much more than skin-deep. He continues to send substantial donations home, channelling a benevolence that he would display in school days, handing out paper to friends who had forgotten theirs or who could not afford any.
At the latest school reunion in Gensan, Pacquiao was at pains to ensure all his contemporaries were taken care of financially. When Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the city of Tacloban in late 2013, he dedicated his victory over Brandon Rios to the victims.
None of this is to imply that Pacquiao is unimpeachable. He is being pursued for £33 million in unpaid taxes, and was forced to deal with numerous allegations of gambling and infidelity before rescuing his relationship with wife Jinkee. He credits the about-turn in his life to finding God, a tale that plays powerfully in the Philippines, an intensely devout Christian country. Such was the strength of his mother’s faith that he grew up with an altar to the Virgin Mary in the yard. Freddie Roach, his trainer, acknowledges that he can sometimes be exasperated by his pieties, but in the eyes of Pacquiao’s followers the constant invocations of God only add to his cachet.
His stature as a mythic hero is underscored each year in Cebu City, where the role of celebrated Philippine warrior Lapu-Lapu is often played by Pacquiao himself.
In Gensan, the reminders of his distinction as the only eight-division champion in boxing history are even more prevalent.
Businesses from gyms to water companies all carry the Pacquiao imprimatur.
Even Princess, his eight-year-old daughter, has a printing company named after her.
Among his manifold talents, Pacquiao is feted as an accomplished singer in his native land. Two of his albums have gone platinum in the Philippines, and for this defining duel he has brought out a song especially, entitled Lalaban Ako Para Sa Pilipino, translated as “I will fight for the Filipinos”.
The lyrics inspire nothing but adoration in their target audience. “Even if I am in pain,” he sings, “I force myself to hide it and be silent. My heart is bleeding, yet others don’t see it, but what is important is that my country is happy.
“I will fight around the world, I will risk my life. I am Filipino, we are Filipino.”
He could have contrived no more potent call to arms than this.
Mayweather v Pacquiao - the making of a superfight
Dec 2008
Mayweather retires as No 1 pound for pound boxer after beating Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton. His record is 39-0.
March 2009
Mayweather announces comeback. "I'm the King. I left on top. I came back on top," he says.
May 2009
Pacquiao takes over as No 1 pound for pound fighter after beating De La Hoya and then knocking out Hatton, on May 2.
September 2009
Mayweather makes his comeback and defeats Juan Manuel Marquez.
October 2009
Mayweather's father sparks controversy with comments about Pacquiao. He says: "I don't think he can beat Lil' Floyd with steroids in him or not. He don't have that kind of talent. He don't have that kind of skill, whatever he has in him."
December 2009
Defamation lawsuit filed by Pacquiao against Mayweather and his camp for Mayweather Snr's comments. Lawsuit was settled out of court in 2012.
Dec 2009
Contract is sent to Mayweather on behalf of Pacquiao proposing a 50-50 financial split for a fight on March 13, 2010.
Jan 2010
Fight falls apart over Pacquiao's objections to Mayweather's demands for urine testing and strict, random blood testing, right up to weigh-in day.
July 2010
Snoop Dogg publicly begs Pacquiao to “get in the ************* ring.”
September 2010
Mayweather rants at Pacquiao on an internet video post: “As soon as we come off vacation, we're going to cook that little yellow chump."
April 2011
Nelson Mandela’s daughter tries to arrange bout for her father’s 93rd birthday. But fails.
January 2012
Mayweather and Pacquiao speak on the phone. Mayweather offers Pacquiao a flat fee of $40 million for the fight. It is declined.
December 2012
Pacquiao is knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez which further scuppers hopes of a Mayweather-Pacquiao encounter.
December 2013
Mayweather says fight will never happen because of his relationship with Bob Arum: "We all know the reason the Pacquiao fight won't happen is because I will never do business with Bob Arum again in life, and Pacquiao is Bob Arum's fighter.”
January 2014
Pacquiao challenges Mayweather to a charity fight.
January 2014
Pacquiao’s tax payments are investigated. Pacquiao calls for a Mayweather fight. Mayweather says: “He wants Floyd Mayweather to solve his problems."
September 2014
Fight seemingly never going to happen after Mayweather insists on it happening on Showtime pay-per-view. Pacquiao is with HBO.
October 2014
Breakthrough. A waiter in a West Hollywood restaurant introduces Les Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS Corp, to Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer (pictured). Roach tells Moonves Pacquiao wants to fight and Moonves starts work to set it up.
November 2014
After beating Chris Algieri in Macau, Pacquiao says the people "deserve" his fight with Mayweather.
December 2014
Mayweather accuses Arum and Pacquiao of creating a delay for the fight and urges it to happen.
January 2015
Arum (pictured) claims Pacquiao has agreed to terms for a fight with Mayweather on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The deal calls for a 60-40 purse split in favour of the pound-for-pound king, with drug testing also agreed on. The hurdle now was getting television companies HBO and SHOWTIME to agree.
January 2015
Mayweather and Pacquiao speak for the first time face to face at half-time of the Milwaukee Bucks-Miami Heat game in Miami. Mayweather gave Pacquiao his mobile number and they met in Pacquiao's hotel suite.
February 2014
Telegraph Sport reveals that the richest match-up in boxing history between Mayweather and Pacquiao had finally been agreed after years of haggling.
February 2015
The May 2 Pacquiao-Mayweather match was finally made official by Mayweather on social network site 'Shots'.Timeline words by Gareth A Davies

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