Black Sports Stars to Mayweather: Stop Ducking Manny Pacquiao

| by Alex Groberman

Race, culture and nationality have always been inherent parts of the Manny Pacquiao v. Floyd Mayweather Jr. debate. Now, they have once again resurfaced on the forefront of boxing news following some very telling comments by NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.

Irvin was recently asked in passing about who he had in the potential dream fight between the Filipino superstar and his undefeated counterpart, and as usual, he held back no punches.

“I like both fighters but I’m telling you right now, I wish Mayweather would go ahead and fight the guy. It makes brothers look bad with all of this running. You know we’re not into the running.”

Ouch. An avid follower of the sport, Irvin’s comments pack a particularly heavy punch because he’s a.) extremely knowledgeable on the matter and, b.) black.

This isn’t the first time a prominent black sports star has come down on the Pacquiao side of the fence in boxing’s version of Israel and Palestine. Candice Parker, Kobe Bryant and an assortment of others who are at the top of their respective sports have all very publicly made it clear that they believed Pacquiao would be too much for Mayweather. Furthermore, ESPN blowhards like Michael Wilbon and Skip Bayless -- granted, the latter is a white guy -- have made ripping into Mayweather’s alleged cowardice a necessary component of any boxing-related segments.

Are they right? Well, you can certainly see their logic. To them, Pacquiao is the quiet, media-friendly do-gooder who lets his fists write the headlines for him. Mayweather, on the flip side, is a loudmouth with countless arrests to his name whose idea of charitable contributions is tipping the waitress who serves him drinks at whatever seedy Las Vegas casino he inhabits on that given day.

Pacquiao wears the white hat and Mayweather wears the black one, and as a result, it’s difficult to give the latter any sort of benefit of the doubt.

Here is the official relevant timeline for how things have progressed over the last two years:

  • Pacquiao and Mayweather began negotiations.
  • Mayweather requested a specific previously unheard of level of performance-enhancing drug (PED) testing.
  • Pacquiao refused Mayweather’s PED demands, with Bob Arum at one point citing that his guy had a fear of needles.
  • Mayweather ups his already stringent PED requirements to an even more extreme level.
  • Pacquiao suddenly agrees to the original testing, but not Mayweather’s new demands.
  • Mayweather scoffs at Pacquiao’s belated acceptance of the old PED testing standards, and refuses to budge.
  • Mayweather takes an extended break from boxing to deal with court issues stemming from domestic assault charges.
  • Pacquiao continues to dominate the sport with one monstrous victory after another.
  • Arum lets the public know that negotiations for a possible Pacquiao v. Mayweather bout are once again ongoing.
  • Mayweather who previously had a problem with the money split, according to Arum, agrees to divide everything down the middle.
  • Pacquiao and Mayweather, according to Arum, have some sort of tentative agreement on necessary PED testing requirements, with one notable concern.
  • Notable concern: Pacquiao refuses to let the USADA do the testing, wants WADA to do it.
  • WADA says it has no place doing this type of testing.

So, based on that timeline, it’s not difficult to find both of these fighters culpable for the supposedly inevitable dream fight not yet occurring. And because it’s easy to find fault with more both, it’s equally understandable why some choose a particular side and adopt a blind devotion to their fighter of choice.

Is Mayweather really making “brothers” look bad by not fighting Pacquiao? Sure, if you think he’s to blame for this bout not going down. But, if like many, you think that Pacquiao deserves some blame for Mayweather’s reluctance, then it becomes more of a grey area.

Check out the video of Irvin’s comment below.