Vulgar contest leaves opponents pleased as punch

Vulgar contest leaves opponents pleased as punch

V is for victory

Which has long replaced Baron Pierre de Coubertin's Olympian oath about not the winning but the taking part.

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will not be stepping into the ring in the most ballyhooed fight of modern times with anything other than victory in Las Vegas on their minds.

U for ugly

U is for ugly, which is what the three-year build-up to this contest has been from the very start.

There had been more sidestepping, predominantly from Mayweather's camp, over issues ranging from dope testing to racial insults, than even the box office drumming up of publicity has been accustomed to.

The uglier the better as far as fight promotions go. L for licence to hurt

L is for licence to commit assault and battery, to the point of brain bashing, for the public pleasure on pay-per-view around the globe. Pay-TV operators all over the world have joined in the huge clamour to enrich these two pugilists (and the leeches who live off them) by a reported US$250 million (S$333 million).

Mayweather's cut of the purse is 60 per cent, Pacquiao's 40 per cent, and both are reputed to be earning more on this one night than even the top English Premier League footballer gets in a year.

On the other hand, Yaya Toure and Co. do not knowingly risk brain damage. Nor do sportsmen and women get away with battering their partners, as Mayweather was convicted of doing. And nowhere else but in boxing might a black American abuse his Filipino opponent the way that Mayweather did on video with the words "that little yellow chump" followed by the vow to force Pacquiao "to make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice."

I'm guessing that, even in Nevada, the Filipino would not have been granted a licence to box in the United States had he been the one needing such a mouth wash.

G is for greed

G is for greed, and lack of gumption to go with the gum shield.

By all accounts, this event is taking place in a hall that can hold a maximum of about 16,500 people in the MGM Grand for one reason - that Vegas is gambling on enough high rollers throwing their money at the roulette wheels and the one-armed bandits to make a clear profit on even the trumpeted biggest pay night in sporting history. Scarcity value has its own price. Figures vary, but it is thought that only 1,500 tickets went on public sale this week, and they were gone in a flash.

In fact, though reselling on the black market is supposedly a crime in the US, some of those tickets (with a face value of US$1,500 to $7,500) were up on eBay on the so-called "re-sale" market for upwards of US$140,000.

But why were the bulk of the tickets not up for public sale? Because the fighters' respective entourages, the sponsors, promoters and publicists have first call.

A for animalistic antagonism

A can be for animalistic antagonism. The fight, I suppose any fight, is presented as the raw compulsion of watching two pugilists attempting to beat the daylights out of one another.

On US prime time TV the other day, Katie Couric, not normally noted for sycophancy, asked Mayweather about the awesome "pure physicality" of his trade.

Mayweather, with 47 victories from 47 bouts thus far, thanked the lady, as he thanked the reporters at his media conference on Thursday, for helping to make this fight the biggest pay day in history.

He wore a T-shirt proclaiming TBE - The Best Ever.

Muhammad Ali might have had something to say on that, but it is up to Pacquaio (having won 57 bouts, lost five and drawn two) to put a different perspective onto an opponent. "Manny is really against domestic violence," says his trainer Freddie Roach, "that is a plus for me, that Manny doesn't like him (Mayweather)."

And the trainer, who pulls no punches, added: "The killer instinct is going to come back a lot faster."

R for robbery

R can be for anything as diverse as robbery or respect. If this contest turns out to be less bestial than the experts forecast, then as a once great man, Ali, might have said, ain't no use blaming the fighters if the dopes who pay for their rise from rags to riches have been sucked in to pay for it.

There are two guys between you and me and the dollars we are being asked to pay to watch on the TV screen. They are aged 38 and 36 respectively, and may be past their prime.

But the slightly younger of them, Pacquiao, has something that money alone cannot buy. He was elected into the Philippine House of Representatives five years ago.

The lawmaker versus the law-breaker might well have been a box office line, but probably this is one fight that doesn't need any more hype. Vulgar is the word.

stsports@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 25, 2015.
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