Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is the New Ali vs. Frazier Inside and Out. Here’s Why.
Fast approaching, May 2 may be the biggest day in boxing history—at least for the last 40 years. Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao’s “Fight Of The Century” promises to live up to its name, nearly eight years in the making. The undefeated 38 year-old “Money Mayweather” will take on eight-division champ “Pac Man” in an event that forces historical context.
The Shadow League holds Mayweather vs. Pacquiao up against the original “Fight Of The Century,” the just-passed milestone of March 8, 1971. It was then, at New York City’s Madison Square Garden that Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier. The stage would famously deliver Ali, calling himself “The Greatest,” his first loss. For a then-undefeated “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier, this would be the title fight that would make him champion until perilously meeting George Foreman in early 1973, in “The Sunshine Showdown.”
TSL really looks at the storyline of the May 2, Las Vegas, Nevada event. Like Ali vs. Frazier, this fight shows two very different personalities. Like Ali, Floyd Mayweather commands attention. The Grand Rapids, Michigan native is the highest paid athlete in sports (in most recent years), and makes no bones about gloating. Like his on-again, off-again friend 50 Cent, Floyd is a boisterous personality that celebrates his accomplishments, and brandishes his professional and personal independence. A media darling, Floyd is like Ali, whose slick quotations, and taunting taglines finessed the press, just as Floyd has with social media and viral videos. Both personalities are bigger than life, approaching a ring that challenges their reign. As Ali fell to Frazier—quiet literally in Round 15, Mayweather puts his own spotless record up against a fight that’s rumored the draw more than $400 million.
Pac Man, a product of General Santos, Philippines, is not so embraced by the mainstream. A hero to his island nation, language barriers have held Manny back from US stardom. Additionally, Pac Man’s identity counters the traditional boxer norms of Black, white, and Hispanic fighters. The 36 year-old Pacific Islander southpaw may be an actor and politician, but in Stateside shores, he is merely perceived as a quiet prize-fighter. Joe Frazier, who came to form in the rugged streets of Philadelphia, was a dark horse fighter. Both of these men seem to represent lower/working-class as heroes of their people. Additionally, one could argue that they are upper-cuts to uber-successful Black men in America at two very different troubled times surrounding race and economics. Quiet, focused, and non-confrontational to media or mainstream, Smokin’ Joe was a clear counter to Ali, in and out of the ring.
If Mayweather loses, who really wins? Is Pacquiao really aligned with Joe? The Shadow League analyzes two vastly different “Fight Of The Century” match-ups, and draws plenty of insightful comparisons.