MY WORD ON SUNDAY: Lessons from Mayweather, Pacquiao bout

SHARE   |   Sunday, 10 May 2015   |   By Mpho Dibeela

Boxing is without doubt one very exciting sport. Last weekend’s bout dubbed the ‘fight of the century’ between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was one such testimony. Like an Olympic 100m dash, it quite easily makes the world hold its breath. In one blow, even the very first, the fight could be over. Mike Tyson is legendary for such feats. Mayweather appears to have become the answer for a sport that has lost its greatest since the prime time of Tyson. No wonder, he got carried away recently and declared himself the greatest, insisting he eclipse Mohammed Ali as the very best the sport ever had. Yes, he is biggest earner in sport. And of course he is current. History might be too easy to forget. And for most, it is only in aging recordings that they have seen Ali dazzle the world. Mayweather without doubt gives boxing its value. Currently, he is more than the sport he dominates. His fight against Pacquiao accentuated his value and cemented his name among the legends. It brought down all records from revenue generated, viewer statistics and the aggressive previews and marketing that preceded the fight. Tickets were priced off the ordinary flocks with celebrities, and the rich and mighty occupying the inside ring of the 16 500 MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. While to me the bout amounted to a small sparring match with boxers emerging without any bruises Mayweather did enough to keep his undefeated record – almost into his retirement. According to the fight statistics, Mayweather threw 435 punches with only 148 landing while Pacquiao managed only a paltry 81 hits from 429 punches thrown. The fight lacked the excitement and quality that was brought into its marketing. It was however a big payday for the fighters who shared $230 m between them while the total raised by the bout stood at about $400m. While it might have been fought far away, and by global sport figures, it remains an inspiration for upcoming boxers across the world. This includes boxers from our small republic. Bond Ngubula and his professional boxing charges would understandably be motivated to advance their course. These kinds of bouts are just that – an open tutorial for those that lack inspiration and belief that they are on the right track. It answers doubts of whether sport can really truly pay. In Botswana where sport is essentially amateur, boxers retire with scars from amateur ranks with no bulging bank accounts to show for their years of hard work. The Mayweather/Pacquiao bout demonstrates that it really does not matter where one is born and grows up. It matters more the chances one takes to rise to the very summit of sport. For example South Africa has produced world champions of note. And this is the same place where our boxers are relocating to turn professional. This is the first good step. The next is to break any barriers and secure international bouts that could see one challenging for world level belts. Our Kgomotso ‘Machine’ Bok should be assured that just like Pacquiao who rose from the streets of Philippines to become a global boxing superstar and a legislature, he too can rise to that level. What matters as sports always shows is not where one is born but the talent one is endowed with. We should as a country – as Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) – move decisively to set up professional sport and enable it to grow to secure lives of our talented youth. Just as we recently brought home the Zone 6 boxing title (amateur), we have the talent to bring to this country a world belt. We have a Mayweather somewhere in our boxing ranks that only requires the stage and resources to rise to the very top of the sport. Let us do all we can to unleash and nurture our sport talent. We have world beaters. We only have to look to Nijel Amos and Amantle Montsho to know how this real this is.          

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