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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Are African-American boxers jealous of Pacquiao?

When Nate Campbell’s trainer John David Jackson offered the statement that Manny Pacquiao has avoided African-American boxers, his ward backed him up in an interview I conducted with him last month saying,

“It was a good comment. You tell me one African-American fighter he’s (Pacquiao) fought.”

My fellow Examiner Michael Marley described the issue as the “Dumbest Topic in Boxing for 2008”. Although it’s more of 2009 when Jackson made the statement, I can’t say I disagree with the White Gorilla. Frankly, race issues are old news. Racism shouldn’t have a place in the sport at all especially when minorities dominate boxing and on the issue that Pacquiao is avoiding African-American fighters, to me it’s really more of an issue about the lack of big African-American names in the lower weight classes. I guess if you want to insist Pacquiao ducked African-American boxers at least you know he fought the best competition instead.

But since some say it’s valid to question the ethnicities of Pacquiao’s opponents, and I have offered my opinion about the matter in the past, Timothy Bradley’s comments during his recent conference call had me thinking. He said,

“Manny Pacquiao is the best fighter supposedly … whatever. He’s the poster kid. He’s not fighting the best in the division, though. He’s fighting bigger fighters who are cutting weight and chopping them up because they’re weakened coming down in weight.”

Last time I checked, Pacquiao fought one fighter that came down in weight and that was Oscar De la Hoya, and De la Hoya claimed he was in the best shape of his life and that he had felt stronger than ever. Pacquiao became the number one 140 pounder by dominating and destroying the former consensus champ in Ricky Hatton in two spectacular rounds after a long string of success in the neighboring divisions. And Cotto cutting down two pounds doesn’t really mean he’s weight-drained. In fact, it’s the most dangerous fight out there for Pacquiao because Cotto is naturally so much bigger and stronger than anyone he has faced. There’s a reason why De la Hoya and Mayweather avoided Cotto for so long. But that’s for a different article on a different day.

Now I pose this question. Are African-American boxers, throw in the trainers as well, avoiding giving Pacquiao high praise? Are they jealous of Pacquiao’s success? Of course I’m not including 100% of the population when I say this but it’s just ironic that most of Pacquiao’s detractors are African-Americans in the boxing game who speak of themselves in superlatives and hyperboles and consider themselves whether realistically or not, as the best.

Elaborate you ask?

Okay, let’s start with none other than Floyd Mayweather Jr. himself. Throw in his uncle/trainer and dad in it with him as well and you got the unholy trinity of the “Anti-Pacs”. Of course you got Nate Campbell and John David Jackson. I guess you can add Emmanuel Steward to that list as well as I recall his comments on HBO and my interview with him when he said he thought Pacquiao is getting too much credit for his victory over De la Hoya. And now Timothy Bradley to the list of doubter. They seem to keep pointing out that Pacquiao simply beat weight-drained fighters and throw half-baked compliments only to be followed by “buts”.

Isn’t it because the sport that once was dominated by African-American figures is now being captivated by a small, soft-spoken Filipino?

Pacquiao you can say is the “anti-black fighter”. He is the opposite of what the previous African-American poster boys of boxing were. Pacquiao doesn’t talk much outside the ring and is as humble as they come. Instead of the swag and trash-talking like how “Money May” and “The Galaxxy Warrior” or Roy Jones Jr. and Muhammad Ali perfected before them, Pacquiao redirects the glory to the man upstairs and his countrymen and opts not to speak negatively about his adversaries.

Are they seeing something most fight fans do not when they belittle Pacquiao? Or are they simply “hating” because Pacquiao seems to be king of the boxing world as of the moment? If anything, Pacquiao has a huge African-American following. His admirers range from Denzel Washington to Kobe Bryant down to Shawn Merriman and a lot of other high-profile athletes. Last time I checked, Floyd Mayweather Jr. used to be one of them too. He was even jumping up-and-down when Pacquiao knocked Morales out in one of their fights. I have a lot of black friends and they all love Pacquiao as well.

So what happened?

Is the admiration Pacquiao is getting, together with the perks and riches that come with it, that got these other guys salivating to get a piece of that cake? As most suspect and would suggest, maybe these guys just want to get paid and be next in line for the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes.

Love him or hate him, Pacquiao is here to stay. He will dominate internet articles and covers of boxing magazines because boxing is still a “getting a$$es on them seats” business, and Pacquiao does it better than anybody in the game right now because of his fighting style and the excitement he brings every time he fights. The real concern is the dwindling population of African-American boxing fans. Kimbo Slice is arguably more popular than Floyd Mayweather Jr. nowadays, especially with the younger demographic.

If Timothy Bradley, Nate Campbell and all these other African-American fighters want to really help their case, they simply have to step their games up and get their fans back into the sport to back them up. All the talking means nothing if they fail to bring the goods like when Campbell didn’t even make the weight in his last fight against Funeka or when Mayweather's big fight end up becoming snoozers like his "The World Awaits" performance against De la Hoya.

The proof is in the pudding, in the words of NBA writer and analyst Steven A. Smith whom I spoke to in Las Vegas during my NBA writing days.

“You can hate all you want, but you’re just wasting your time.”

At the end of the day, there’s really only one African-American fighter we all want Pacquiao to face, and you already know his name. Let me guarantee you though, it's because of his skill, and not the color of his skin.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-10947-Indianapolis-Fight-Sports-Examiner~y2009m7d25-Are-AfricanAmerican-boxers-jealous-Pacquiao

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