Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are two wildly successful boxers who have taken very different approaches to getting where they are. Their differing philosophies on how to develop, maintain and expand their respective business empires has been extremely telling of how each man approaches his craft.
When Mayweather first arrived on the scene over 15 years ago, he was under no delusions regarding how boring his fighting style was to mainstream fans. When you are a counter-puncher who utilizes speed and smarts en route to victories, it isn’t easy to be sold to folks who want non-stop action, blood and gore. So, what did he do? He adjusted. He didn’t alter his fighting style – he modified his persona. He became a villain of sorts, proudly wearing the black hat that surprisingly few great fighters out there are willing to wear.
The most interesting part of that decision was Mayweather’s refusal to change his fighting style. Why did he choose to alter his persona and not how he handled his business in the ring? Simply put: because he knew where his priorities lay. The undefeated champion understood that, regardless of how famous he could get off his personality, the base of his success was being a great boxer. He realized that optimum success in the ring would permit him to have more opportunities outside of it. Being a villain to sell PPVs only works if you are a good enough boxer to land big time PPVs in the first place.
That core understanding of how important being a successful fighter is, how that specifically is the glue that holds everything else together, is a point that seems to be lost on Pacquiao these days. While the Filipino star has gotten to where he is today on the strength of what a great boxer he is too, he doesn’t seem to realize that simple point. He currently seems to be prioritizing money over putting himself in the best possible position to win fights – all the while mistakenly thinking that he is making the smart business decision.
During a recent interview with Sport360, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach explained that his guy’s next fight would almost certainly be outside of the U.S.
“I would love the fight to be in Dubai as I know they can deliver the show,” said Roach. ”I think it would be the best choice as it would make it a global fight, like the Thrilla in Manila, and generate so much interest.”
And why does Pacquiao want to fight on non-American soil? For tax purposes, apparently. He wants to be able to keep a more sizable chunk of what he makes.
“The trouble we have is Mayweather,” said Roach. “He wants the fight in Las Vegas because it’s his hometown and doesn’t want to go anywhere else.
“But when he is demanding the kind of money that he is you have to go where the money is and we know Dubai have the funds. Manny obviously will fight anywhere in the world and with the massive Filipino community over there it would be like a home from home for him. Getting Mayweather on board will be tough though but not impossible.”
Therein lays the problem.
Pacquiao believes he is making the smart business move by avoiding paying American taxes, but really he is just hurting himself. Mayweather, meanwhile, is under no delusions about how important fight venue is when it comes to putting on a successful show. He doesn’t value miniscule short-term gains over big picture goals.
Here is the reality of the situation: there is a reason why Pacquiao hasn’t fought outside the U.S. since July of 2006. There were always more tax-friendly countries available; there were always other possible non-American venues. The Filipino champion fought here anyway. Obviously he saw a reason to do so.
So why mess with the game plan now? Why turn a successful strategy upside-down just to pocket a little more money when you are so ridiculously rich already?
Pacquiao’s mind should not be on squeezing every last penny out of his next fight. It shouldn’t be on whether the bout should be hosted in America or Dubai because one would allow for him to get a bigger pay day than the other. No – the Filipino star’s focus should be squarely on one thing and one thing only: winning his next match. That’s it.
Mayweather realized a long time ago that winning is the glue that holds everything together. Money. Aspirations outside the ring. Personal and professional well-being. For fighters, all of those things are determined by how they perform in the ring. And when these guys start making their decisions based moreso based on money than what puts them in optimal position to get that money in the first place, well, that's when they end up face first on the mat wondering what the heck happened to their once-succcessful careers.