The lowdown on the “greatest fight of our generation”

Even the most uninvolved of sports fans has surely heard about welterweight bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao that took place on May 2. However, not all can understand why the fight was such a big deal.

First, the lead-up to the event was almost unprecedented in the boxing sphere. It began with demands, back in 2009, for a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao, two of the best welterweight boxers in history. Then, for nearly six years rumors continued to spread, negotiations continued to fail, and hype continued to rise. Finally, Mayweather and Pacquiao agents agreed to terms in 2015.

Held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the exclusive event offered only 500 tickets with prices ranging from US$ 1,500 to 7,500. Every seat was sold within the first minute of sales. Some of the buyers of these tickets you may know: Jay Z, Beyonce, Jimmy Kimmel, Mark Wahlberg, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert De Niro, and Denzel Washington. Due to the influx of some of these big names, at McCarran International Airport there was a “traffic jam,” an overload of millionaire’s private jets who flew in just to watch the fight. Fans who weren’t among the lucky 500 got to watch the televised event from the comfort of their own homes, except at the hefty price of US$100 to their cable providers for the Pay Per View event.

Even before the fight, boxing experts predicted that it would be the richest and most profitable boxing event in history and they were right. Estimates show that the PPV event alone brought in over US$400 million in revenue. It is also estimated that both Mayweather and Pacquiao each earned over US$100 million for the fight, making them the top two highest paid athletes of all time. In fact, Mayweather was earning over US$80,000 per second, boxing at the event. In just one second of boxing, Mayweather made over US$10,000 more than the average American household did in 2014. If these numbers are hard to digest, The Mirror released a calculator that adds up the boxers’ earnings in real time.

As I was following the media advertisements up to this event, I found it very interesting how the fight was portrayed to have a clear protagonist and antagonist. This is understandable, considering the fact that Mayweather and Pacquiao appear to be athletes on opposite sides of the moral spectrum.

To being with, Mayweather has the tendency to exhibit his enormous income in ostentatious ways and brag about it through social media. Let me give you some real examples: buying several Italian sports cars at once, buying state of the art private jets, purchasing dozens of heavy, diamond-plated watches, buying a light-up-fish-tank-pedicure machine, buying a gold-plated Bentley golf cart for his son, or gambling it away in mass sums. Because of his actions, Mayweather has obviously received a lot of backlash, but what really makes people dislike him are his past domestic abuse charges. Mayweather has been involved in over seven cases of domestic abuse against five different women in the past twelve years. When you pile this on top of his utter on-camera arrogance, he becomes quite the villain. Despite his intolerable character traits, Mayweather has been the unbeaten boxing champion of the world for 16 years straight.

Now let’s meet the protagonist, Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao comes from humble origins in the Philippines, where he left home as a teenager to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional boxer. About 20 years later, it’s clear that Pacquiao has surpassed his initial goals. Through his professional boxing career Pacquiao has not only donated massive sums of money to charity, but has also established himself as a Filipino congressmen and politician who has developed policies and initiatives to stop human trafficking in Southeast Asia. Recently, Pacquiao donated over US$45 million to charity in order to help his struggling compatriots in the Philippines.

Pacquiao, humble and respectful, is clearly a different kind of man than Mayweather. It is almost certain that Pacquiao will use his earnings to help the impoverished in Southeast Asia, while Mayweather would surely use it to buy ridiculously unnecessary commodities.

Unfortunately, for those of you who hadn’t heard, Pacquiao lost the fight by unanimous decision and Mayweather retained his belt. People all around the world learned the harsh truth: life isn’t like the movies. In real life, the good guy doesn’t always win.