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  National
Is Floyd Mayweather a "Bad Role Model" and "Bad for Boxing?"
By Prof. Andrew Dunne
Chosun University
Floyd Mayweather

Imagine earning $180 million dollars for less than an hour's work. That's what boxer Floyd Mayweather will earn, if not more, when he fights fellow future hall-of-famer Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas on May 2, 2015.

From a money standpoint, it is the biggest fight of all time. Rumor has it that ringside tickets for the mega-fight could trade for over $150,000. The astronomical prices can in part be explained by the fact that fans have waited five years for this fight to be made.

And, while Mayweather, who is the world's highest paid athlete, has become accustomed to earning huge sums, his upcoming paycheck is a far-cry from the $25,000 he made in his first professional fight almost 20 years ago and from his meager beginnings in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. At one point in his life, he lived with six others in a one bedroom apartment that oftentimes had no lights, just candles, and regularly no heat or hot water.

Mayweather now has closets larger than some of his previous accommodations. But, the fruits he is now reaping are the result of over three decades of dedication. He began boxing when he was just a toddler. ''He was training to be a fighter in the crib. No kidding. He was throwing jabs even then", his father once recalled. Similarly, his uncle Roger has stated that "at 2 or 3 years old, his daddy used to bring him into the gym and hold him up and hit the speed bag." And, when Floyd was only as tall as a doorknob, "he would throw the hook as good as any pro", said his father.

Floyd comes from a family of boxers. His father, Floyd Mayweather Senior, boxed professionally, and two of his uncles are former champions. So, it's not surprising that Mayweather showed signs of great boxing talent as a kid. However, as renowned author Stephen King once stated: "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work".

Floyd's talent is undeniable. But so too is his work ethic. As a kid, Floyd "ate, drank, and slept boxing. That's what his life was consumed of," his cousin Latisha has stated. While his peers played, Floyd trained. Him and his father "would go to the gym in the morning and stay until night...He never got to play that much like the other kids," his grandmother Bernice has similarly commented.

At 38 years of age, Floyd is still known for being unrelenting in his training. It is not uncommon for his training sessions to last as long as 12 hours. Even when not preparing for a fight, he never neglects his body or health.

Which brings me to my next point and the purpose of this article. In recent interviews, Manny Pacquiao, who hails from the Philippines, and his trainer Freddie Roach said that Floyd is "bad for boxing" and "a bad role model for kids". I disagree. I'll refute these claims one at a time.

Firstly, when Floyd fights, millions of people watch and purchase Pay-Per-View. In fact, more people tune-in to watch Floyd's fights than any other boxer throughout history. Hence the reason Floyd is sometimes referred to as May-Per-View.

Many people might watch Floyd's fights in the hopes that he will lose, but nonetheless they watch. In other words, Floyd generates interest in boxing. Even people that have never followed boxing are now suddenly discussing and debating the May 2nd bout and boxing in general. How is that bad for the sport?

And secondly, rather than focus on Mayweather's reported wrongdoings or faults, let's give him his just dues. As a child, he dreamt of becoming a champion boxer and dedicated his life to this endeavor, overcoming much adversity along the way. When he was a teenager, his mother had substance abuse problems, his father was sentenced to over five years in prison on drug trafficking charges, and one of his aunts died of AIDS. Floyd epitomizes the notion that success is not determined by whether or not you face obstacles, but how you react to them.

When did determination and perseverance become negative character traits? Furthermore, Floyd Mayweather has never drank alcohol and does not use or condone drugs of any kind. In fact, he is playing a major role in helping to eradicate drug use in boxing. In addition, not only does he regularly give charitable donations but in 2007 he established his own foundation that aims to help struggling adults and adolescents. So, to label Floyd a bad role model is unjust.

For those relatively unacquainted with Floyd Mayweather, he is undefeated in 47 professional fights. Due to cat-like speed and supreme defensive skills, he hasn't even been knocked down in the ring, although he did once touch the canvas with his glove because of injury and this was ruled a knockdown.

Outside the ring, he is equally skilled, at least in the area of business. Unlike many other boxers, he has his own promotions company, and has structured his business in such a way that allows him to profit off everything from ticket sales to pay-per-view buys and even hot dogs and merhandize sold in venues.

Unfortunately, due to his lavish lifestyle, brash demeanor, and allegations of domestic violence, Floyd doesn't always receive the praise he deserves for his boxing ability and his business savvy.

However, this is not atypical. We often fail to recognize or appreciate how significant people are until they retire or pass away. When asked about his legacy during a recent interview, Floyd responded: "I think I'll truly be missed when I'm gone away from the sport". I agree. He only plans to fight a few more times. His May 2nd bout with Manny Pacquiao could indeed prove to be his final act. Enjoy him before the curtains go up. If you have never watched a single boxing match, this one would be a good starting point.

I think I'll end with a comment Mayweather made during a recent interview with American news anchor Katie Couric when asked whether he would still consider himself a winner if he loses his upcoming fight: "Me having my hand raised doesn't define me as a man. I'm a winner in life, not just because I was able to make hundreds of millions, but because whatever I got involved with I gave a hundred percent!"

As an addendum: Who do I think will win? Boxing fans, first and foremost. But, for the match itself, I'm siding with Mayweather. I've been supporting him since the late 90s and I don't plan to stop now. Manny Pacquiao is an aggressive, offensive-minded boxer.

However, his style often leaves him open for counterpucnhes, which is one of Mayweather's specialties. Many boxing pundits believe Pacquiao's southpaw stance will cause Mayweather problems. I disagree. After the opening few rounds, I think Mayweather will beat Pacquiao pretty convincingly, just like he did with southpaws Zab Judah and Robert Guerrero.

Floyd has beaten eight southpaws throughout his professional career, four by way of knockout. Could Pacquiao be Mayweather's fifth southpaw to receive knockout treatment? Mayweather's punching power is, I believe, underrated.

Granted, his knockout percentage isn't fantastic, standing at 55%, but that owes to his defense first, offense second mentality. For this fight, though, there is added motivation to win emphatically. I wouldn't be surprised if Mayweather knocks Pacquiao out in the late rounds. Tune in to find out!

Fortunately, SBS Sports will broadcast the fight live on television in Korea on Sunday May 3, 2015, with coverage beginning around 11 a.m.

The writer is an assistant professor at Chosun University in Gwangju. He can be reached by email: a_dunne@ymail.com



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Prof. Andrew Dunne, who serves as a contributing writer for The Seoul Times, has been teaching at Chosun University in Gwangju for several years. While as a university student he carried out studies on body modification practices and published papers on the subject in academic journals. He attended university in Dublin, Ireland, but grew up on the west coast of Canada in Vancouver, B.C. He can be reached at the following email address: atdunne@gmail.com

 

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