The Mayweather vs. Pacquoiao, must have been the biggest boxing match of all time, about $250 million dollar value (Pacquoia’s shorts are already a couple million). And while the reputation of Mayweather and Pacquoiao is what lit the spark for it’s mainstream cred, it will not be watched for how well they punch, it will be for the outcome of the 12th round. For the same reason that professional fighting exemplifies the man vs. man narrative conflict.
FIghting has been used for Political Narratives
The man vs man narrative conflict, is a protagonist that is a man (or a woman) going up against an antagonist that is a man (also, or a woman). While the conflict does not necessarily mean physical violence, professional fighting is the clearest and easiest example of the man vs man narrative conflict. Professional fighting is easy to understand and easy to resound beyond just the personal narratives of the boxers.
For example, during the 1930s when he conflict between fascist powers and the western democracies was growing, there were two fights between Joe Louis a African-American boxer vs. Max Schmeling a Nazi German boxer, both were and would become heavyweight champions. In the first match Schmeling defeated Louis, but in the second, Louis knocked out Schmeling in the 1st round, and America blew up in cheers. America cheered because it was a victory of Democratic United States versus Fascist Germany and African-Americans cheered the loudest because the greatest American hero was an African-American. It is the same reason that Filipinos are intensely interested in this fight, (and they aren’t cheering for Floyd Mayweather).
Professional Fighting uses Narratives
Popular culture and professional fighting have a enjoyable relationship. The boxing genre exemplifies the man vs man conflict. The plot is the buildup of the protagonist getting ready to face his antagonist, the other fighter, in the climax. It’s the plot of every professional fighting movie. If you say “Raging Bull, that doesn’t count it was a man vs himself conflict.
However this narrative conflict plays out in real life as one of the most successful sports organizations living on the strength of narratives is WWF. Sure the actual “fighting” may be faked, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the larger-than-life personas of the wrestlers, their rivalries and matches between other wrestlers. For their scripted narratives between heroes and villains, is what fuels the devotion of their fans and transcends the stadium. For example who isn’t interested in wrestling, but knows who the Ultimate Warrior, or Macho Man or Hulk Hogan? I haven’t seen a single Hulk Hogan fight and yet I know that ex-Toronto Mayor Rob Ford beat him in an arm-wrestling competition. The Ultimate Warrior, could not put it better in his last words to his fans.
Why were Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fighting?
What immediately made the fight so important was the fight records, but it was their character profiles between the two fighters that has made this more than just a simple boxing match. An undefeated world champion with a sketchy past versus the pride of a nation, making this the greatest fight in modern sports history.
The man vs man narrative conflict, in boxing is the fighter, entering the ring, again and again, facing antagonists for his/her triumph and the essence of what’s this narrative conflict so attractive. Two of the greatest professional boxers in the world are competing, and the conclusion of their narratives will depend on who will be walking out of the ring, fist raised in triumph.