ICYMI, the long-awaited fight of the century between two of boxing’s finest has just taken place and the verdict is in: Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the best boxer of this generation.
In what has been the dream of boxing fans everywhere, twin superstars—Philippine’s Manny Pacquiao and USA’s Mayweather—squared off (finally) for the very first time at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas earlier today in an unprecedented 30 million pound fight that ultimately saw Mayweather prevailing over Pacquiao after 12 rounds and unanimous decision by the judges.
It’s perfectly fine if you didn’t manage to catch the action. Most of us wouldn’t have been able to afford it anyway, considering the staggering price tag of close to US $3,000 for an average ticket. If not for anything else, the ticket price alone is testament to how anticipated this fight is. For many boxing fans, it was a match that had been long in the making between the two welterweight rivals who couldn’t be more polar opposites. Up to this point, Floyd Mayweather, 38, has been considered the biggest star in boxing and regarded by many as the best boxer in the world, having been undefeated in all his professional fights, with 47 wins and no losses or draws under his belt. To say boxing is in his blood is no mere exaggeration, since he is the son of Floyd Mayweather Sr., who was a welterweight contender in the 1970s and ‘80s. In fact, the man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, is currently training under his father. Personality wise, he’s known to be arrogant, disrespectful, and not very likeable.
The 36-year-old Pacquiao on the other hand, is the underdog and unlikely hero who came from abject poverty in Philippines to become one of the best boxers in the world. As the first and only eight-division champion, Pacquiao has 57 wins, five losses and two draws in his professional career. Besides being the sport’s second biggest star, he also wears many other hats, including that of statesman, actor, singer, TV host, husband, and father. And true to the stereotype between two extremes, Pacquiao is a lot nicer and is known for his happy-go-lucky attitude and humility. We’ve also been told that he ran away from home at the age of 14, has a dog name “Pacman” (which is also his nickname) and thinks that drinking cold water is bad for the body.
But perhaps what is the most significant detail that has emerged about Pacquiao in the media reports leading up to Saturday’s epic fight is how important his relationship with God is to him. In a Daily Mail report that noted how Mayweather seemed to be showing signs of nerves in the lead up to Saturday’s game, Pacquiao on the contrary, was quoted saying: “I have a good feeling for this fight. This is different. God has blessed me with confidence. Belief, happiness and this feeling of being so relaxed. And yes I do think I wanted this fight more than Mayweather. If it’s all business for him, for me it’s about giving the fans who are paying all this money a great fight. They deserve that. The most exciting thing for me is how I glorify the name of my God.”
In a tell-all interview on Trinity Broadcasting Network that emerged on YouTube just days before the historic fight, Pacquiao identified himself as a believer of Jesus first of all (not a boxer) and revealed that his life had been steep in sin—material lust, gambling, partying, and womanizing—four years ago. The turning point for him came at 32 years old, when he received a Bible as a birthday gift from a person he doesn’t remember. A deep conviction came over him to read the Bible. And despite initial difficulties in understanding the text, he persevered on. The more he read, the more he was confronted by his sinfulness—a realization that reduced the boxer to tears and feelings of unworthiness. Recognizing that all his titles and achievements amounted to nothing without the saving power of Jesus Christ, Pacquiao surrendered his life to Christ four years ago. Since then, his priorities have changed. “Boxing is his job; evangelizing is his life’s work,” writes a 2014 article about him, just one of the many reports that cite how his faith has been his bedrock on which his life is based.
So while today’s verdict may have shattered the hearts of many across the world that have been rooting for Pacquiao, to call today’s match the biggest fight of his life is not completely accurate. After all, the biggest fight of his life had already been done and dusted, outside of the boxing ring—by the grace of God, he emerged victorious. Pacquiao may have lost in the “fight of the century”, but he is certainly no loser in the sight of God.
The battle against sin is the biggest fight any of us will ever come face to face with. At the end of the day, it’s the only fight that matters. Have we, like Pacquiao, taken a step into this boxing ring yet?