Editor’s Note: The six-year build-up to the May 2 Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather bout is a source of nostalgia, so I’m re-running a few classics, especially now that zoomdune.com is putting its 2009 archives to sleep. Here’s one that led to unexpected responses, although I’m sorry the reader feedback is not available to re-publish.
CHANT ‘USA! USA!’ AT PACQUIAO-MAYWEATHER BOUT? PLEASE DON’T (NOVEMBER 2009)
When Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather finally do collide, please tell me that my fellow Americans will not be chanting “USA! USA!” throughout the proceedings.
There are several sports situations in which that kind of patriotism is warranted, such as World Cup soccer and Olympic hockey, where the United States is an underdog.
It was marginally warranted at Saturday’s Andre Ward-Mikkel Kessler fight, as the Super Six tournament on Showtime has been boiling down to disrespect for the three American fighters involved, especially Ward. I’ve been leading the metaphorical flag-waving, but it was a bit off-putting at the fight.
Try to look at it from Kessler’s perspective. He’s from Denmark, a country the size of Maryland. He speaks our language fluently, as well as two others. He earned our respect in the ring before he fought Ward, and he earned it again Saturday while Ward was giving him a whipping he hadn’t been led to expect.
And then he’s up against the might of the most powerful nation on earth, as if Ward alone isn’t humiliating him enough?
Please don’t put Pacquiao through that. He has embraced our country in many ways while connecting us with his country, the Philippines, as never before. It’s possible to love the United States and root for Pacquiao, as I do. There are a few Filipinos who would back Mayweather, too.
It’s not about nationalism. It’s about the two fighters and their styles and their places in boxing history, and both fighters are a very important part of that.
Well, that engendered an interesting response from Filipino fans
When I requested last week that U.S. chest-pounding, flag-waving and other pugnacious displays of nationalism be suspended when the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather extravaganza takes place, the post generated a lot more thoughtfulness than I expected. A career-record 273 comments, as a matter of fact.
Although my diatribe was inspired by one-eyebrow “patriotism” that had offended me at the Andre Ward-Mikkel Kessler fight in Oakland days earlier, most of the readers who felt my lecture was aimed at them were Filipinos, and many felt moved to explain why they shouldn’t and won’t subdue their nationalism in the boxing arena.
The gist: The U.S. occupied their country for the first half of the 20th century, and thus the recent past necessarily weighs heavily when Pacquiao takes on America’s best.
Point well-taken, as politics is very much part of Pacquiao’s uplift of his put-upon countrymen. Thank you for pointing that out.
But there is a double standard: That sort of nationalism is less attractive coming from front-running Americans than from underdog Filipinos. I still beseech my countrymen to take that into account. Or, better yet, pull for Pacquaio.
For more 2009 nostalgia, read Colin Seymour’s free ebook “The Kingpin Trio/How Three Bay Area Champions Became the Class of Boxing.” Here’s the link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/477166