A recently contrived photo of the much-anticipated Floyd “Money” Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao fight surfaced depicting the two as otherworldly.
In this particular image, the pugilists were conjured into the religious deities, the angel and the devil, with Mayweather being the latter and Pacquiao the universal symbol of light and righteousness, the angel.
It is no secret that this will be the most racially divisive combat sporting event since Larry Holmes faced Gerry Cooney on June 11th 1982. Cooney was labeled “The Great White Hope” to finally have a white Heavyweight Champion again. However, that tonality was a promotional campaign launched by Don King and carried by those it influenced.
This event, in deference, has been building for years with both Mayweather and the media playing the role of promoter puppeteers. Mayweather famously walked away from his promotional contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank because he felt that he knew how best to market himself.
The result was the transformation from merely the “Pretty Boy” to the one word synonymous with uber-American success: money; and not just regular millionaire currency. No, the name Mayweather has come to define true financial excess.
This image has carried Mayweather to the top of the highest paid athletes sports pyramid. He fights only twice a year yet he nets more money than every athlete on the planet. Because he isn’t shy about it, he is vilified, and now that he is fighting the perceived “spotless” Manny Pacquiao, it will be one of the main points of contention for his millions of detractors.
However, this effect was a construct of Mayweather’s power of promotional mind control.
The mainstream media too has been suckered into playing promoter by highlighting only Manny Pacquiao’s numerous personal achievements while minimizing, or neglecting to mention, his flaws. It is quite an accomplishment to be a Congressman, basketball player, singer and boxing star all in one lifetime but Pacquiao juggles them all consistently.
He is shielded by the marketing team of his promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, and never loses his cool on camera like Mayweather often famously does. Pacquiao is the new “Great White Hope” (maybe "non-black hop" is more appropriate), but he carries the aspirations of finally shutting up the undefeated braggart who laughs in the face of the world.
The irony of the whole devil meets the the angel caricature is that it validates the fact that since parting ways with Bob Arum, Mayweather’s image manufacturing machine has worked well. It is the reason why he was insistent on having his Mayweather Promotions brand listed as the marquee presenting promoter logo. His brand of bad boy is a proven box office and pay-per-view winner, and his undefeated body of work, on the eve of the purported last two fights of his career, will culminate into the biggest combat sports event in history on May 2nd.
All those seething from Mayweather’s messy personal life, over the top All Access specials and lavish parade of luxury vehicles and planes have merely aided in the Howard Stern effect.
Shock-jock Stern, similar to Mayweather, has a cult-like following of love and hate, both equally supportive and vehement about their feelings. It has made Stern a pop culture icon with millions in both adoration and aberration. The Mayweather brand lives in the same paradigm and his detractors do more to keep him wealthy than his supporters.
So even though Pacquiao is a self-professed womanizer, smoker, drinker and gambler who re-devoted himself to God suspiciously before his third encounter with Juan Manuel Marquez, he will always be the Angel in this story as Mayweather has "chosen" the role of the Devil. It is comical to imagine him laughing whenever he must see the world meticulously regurgitate the story he fed them of being the bad guy.
At the end of the movie “The Usual Suspects”, the villain Keyser Soze famously states that, “The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Mayweather has inverted that truth by creating a Devil that has been feared and loathed, one that is very different from the real Mayweather that those outside of the boxing scene don't get to experience up close and personal.
Ironic that this Devil iteration was a by-product of his Angel side seeking financial freedom and success for himself and his family.
And isn't that freedom and success part of the American dream?