The other night many got a chance to witness history in the making as the greatest fighter of all-time next to Muhammad Ali show and proved that he’s no joke. Manny Pacquiao let all doubters including his opponent Antonio Margarito know that no matter how big, no matter how fierce and no matter how much heart you have, you will undoubtedly lose to a man far too many people have underestimated.
While the world watched and cheered, we’re sure a certain boxer with a big mouth and lots of money sat at home also watching. There is no doubt that Floyd ‘Money Making’ Mayweather has come to realize two unshakeable truths. First, he can’t beat Mr Pacquiao. Yeah, yeah, we heard all the talk about how he’s a skilled precision fighter, a true student of the game blah, blah, blah…Save it. He knows it, I know and you know it. Mayweather watched and realized this past Saturday night this is man he can’t beat.
The other thing he realized is that he’ll never be seen as one of the greatest, even with an undefeated record. As a world champ, he misread history and what it means when you hold such a title especially as a Black man. The ring was always symbolic of power we did not have.. Even with boxing legends like Sugar Ray Robinson, part of what made him great was his accomplishments in the midst of hard oppressions. the accomplishments of boxing greats like Joe Louis and Jack Johnson became a symbolic victories for all those who felt marginalized and oppressed. Their victory was our victory.
Manny Pacquiao has captured that spirit globally. Sadly Floyd Mayweather has misread the signs of today’s times and missed the opportunity to be ‘the people’s champ‘. If Mayweather and Pacman were to fight and he somehow won, Manny would still be seen as champ all over the world. A Mayweather victory would be a hollow victory. Mayweather does not have the admiration of the people especially globally, and no matter how much he brags or ‘adroitly ‘plays the role of villan’ aka the ‘man you love to hate’, he’ll never be seen as a man for the people. What a wasted opportunity.
Understandably that assertion is hard pill for many to swallow, but it’s a truth that Mayweather and many who have come to admire him will have to come to terms with. There are a few thresholds that must be met to truly make a fighter GREAT. The standard is Muhammad Ali..
Ali was and will forever be the greatest even if we could make the case that he was not the ‘best’ to step in the ring. Yes, there were many who threw harder punches. There were some who had faster jabs. There were some who had better defense. Ali was the greatest because he combined all his skills transcended the ring and became a champ on the world stage. He knew how to seize the moment. He always had the pulse of the people. As champ Muhammad Ali came to represent the underdog. Floyd Mayweather as fast and as technical as he is, DOES NOT represent that..
He reps a shallow and ugly version of Americanism that quite frankly we as Black people should not be about. He’s ‘Money Making’ Mayweather when much of the planet including many of our own here in the states are impoverished, unemployed, under employed and clear that big corporation have done them dirty. He’s flossing when folks are starving, no different then the big Wall Street Bankers flossing and justifying bonuses after being bailed out and folks are losing homes.
Mayweather is not seen as the guy who makes the loot on behalf of the people. He’s not seen as the guy continuing the historic role of trickster who has out-thought oppressive situations and with each blow landed and each dollar earned has done it for those who have long done without. Sadly Floyd Mayweather has allowed himself to be positioned as the face of the ‘money making corporation. He’s the establishment. Someone best described him as a Black man who has lost his way.
Unless Floyd is doing some incredible work behind the scenes similar to the way Steelers corner back Troy Polamalu has long gone out in the night to feed, cloth and give money to the homeless, he’ll always be known as the man who bragged and bragged without purpose or politic.
What eluded Mayweather was truly understanding the man who he borrowed a page from in terms of bragging. When Ali fought and bragged, a lot of the times there were political undertones attached to it. Ali became the ‘people’s champ’ by depicting all his opponents both Black and White as figures who were standing in the way of freedom and thus needed to be conquered. He did that with George Foreman. He did it with Ken Norton. He did it Sonny Listen. He did it with Joe Frazier. He especially did this with another boxing champ named Floyd.
Two time champ Floyd Patterson was quick, agile and had great technique, but he’ll always be remembered as the guy Muhammad Ali called an ‘Uncle Tom’ for siding with the system and refusing to call him ‘ Ali’ and instead insisted on calling him by his ‘slave name’ Cassius Clay.
For those who don’t recall, Ali born Cassius Clay changed his name upon joining the Nation of Islam then known as the Black Muslims. It represented him shedding a name imposed upon him and his family by slave owners and Ali was not shy in asserting this and demanding he be addressed by his new name. Most complied, but there were some white sports writers annoyed with Ali’s bragging who refused. For whatever reason Floyd Patterson also refused which led to Ali shrewdly pointed out that Patterson, a black man was Uncle Tomming for the establishment. When the two entered the ring Ali ruthlessly beat Floyd and humiliated him. With each punishing blow he could be heard yelling ‘Whats my name’?
Patterson became the symbol of a good man being on the wrong side of history and while no one is even remotely suggesting that Floyd Mayweather is an Uncle Tom, he’s definitely on the wrong side of history. He’s embraced a mindset and ideology of ‘greed’ and he has the potential to be better than that.
Some have said Mayweather with his flashiness and crudeness is simply representing today’s society. That may be true, but deep down inside he knows he can be so much more. being champ has always meant being so much more. The question is, with Mayweather refusing to fight Pacquiao is he really symbolizing that he’s afraid to step up and be a true champ? Is he afraid to really wear the crown and sit on the throne? Some folks simply are afraid of success on that level. They are comfortable just getting by. Is that how Mayweather feeling inside?
Sadly Mayweather via his actions has become the quintessential American; shallow, crude, materialistic and only about himself. We don’t see him taking hard stands on political issues. We don’t see him in Haiti? We don’t see him in New Orleans.. We don’t even see him in Detroit.. This is not to say he hasn’t done those things..We know he has a charity and this is not to say he’s required to do such things. Is that unfair to put that burden on him? Technically yes, but in the larger scheme of things ‘No’. To not rise to the occasion, Mayweather eludes being ‘Great’ and in many ways he actually cheapens his position. He’s not seen as rebellious or even street so he can’t play the role of being anti-establishment the way a Mike Tyson did.
Mayweather has allowed himself to be the face of a corporatist way of thinking that has long been problematic. He’s the hedge fund head of boxing and to be honest thats the real fight. On the other hand, Pacquiao seems to know what he’s come to symbolized and has continuously moved onto the world stage to be among the Greats.
Manny Pacquiao has come to understand that with much comes great responsibility and thus he’s been out and about doing things that transcend boxing. It could be him dabbling in politics, including being elected to office in the Filipines or it could be him having fun and dabbling in singing. Whatever the case Manny has made himself accessible and has positioned himself to be guy the working class poor person all over the world can relate to and will back up.
Say what you want, but at the end of the day, money and lots of it will only take you so far. Floyd Mayweather knows this. he knows that this is not just about matching skill sets in the ring. Mayweather has to figure out what he really represents. What does he stand for? It can no longer be just the money its got to be something more. Mayweather is wrestling with this knowing that the longer he avoids fighting the ‘people’s champ’ Manny Pacquiao the more he’s likely to wind up be just a footnote in the annals of boxing even if he remains undefeated
Something to ponder