On Saturday night, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will finally face off in what’s been dubbed, “The Fight of the Century.”
It will be a record-breaking fight in terms of its purse, Pay-Per-View costs and, presumably, viewership. However, its also generated intense criticism of Mayweather due to his atrocious and horrifying record of violence against women, which stands without any punishment or suspension from the sport.
Make no mistake, it is a despicable record, filled with convictions, court appearances and jail time, which has led some to support Pacquiao, who has been lifted up as something of the “good guy" in the fight. Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, said he sees the fight as "good against evil," noting that the boxer's hatred for domestic violence is serving as a driving force.
Repeating again for good measure: Mayweather’s actions are disgusting, inexcusable and have been ignored with little accountability or retribution. You only need to Google "Floyd Mayweather Jr." to see that Mayweather’s remorse for his past actions is little or nonexistent and his views of the opposite sex leaves much to be desired.
But even after considering all that, to root for team Pac-Man for any sort of pro-woman reasons wouldn't be justified either.
Most of the commentary leading up to the fight has been about boycotts and distaste surrounding Mayweather's actions, rather than full-throated support for Pacquiao. But if we're going to question whether someone can dislike Mayweather because of his treatment of women, should we not also do the same of Pacquiao and his politics?
"Manny is really against domestic violence," Roach has said. "It is a big issue maybe in the Philippines for him and being a congressman he can control some of that stuff."
He is right about one thing: Pacquiao does have a role in Philippine legislation, but many of his past stances are worth a second look.
For one, after Pacquiao was elected to the Philippine congress in 2010, he opposed a bill that would increase the government funding for contraception and family planning services, according to USA Today in 2011. The boxer is also adamantly against abortion, which is illegal in the Philippine Constitution:
"God said, 'Go out and multiply.' He did not say, just have two or three kids," Pacquiao said.
"It's sinful to use condoms and commit abortion," he said and when questioned about overpopulation said "my parents were poor... they had four children, it was very difficult but we persevered."
Stating he is "pro-life," Pacquiao also once said a fight solidified his position on the issue as he cast his vote in 2012, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported at the time.
“What happened in Vegas strengthened my already firm belief in the sanctity of life, on whether a person’s right to live in this world should be put in the hands of his fellow man...Only God has the right over this."
The bill, which provides subsidized contraception to poverty-stricken areas of the country and also made sex education mandatory in public schools, was passed in 2012.
Furthermore, while he was widely misquoted back in 2012 as citing a passage from the book of Leviticus that says gay men and women should be put to death, Pacquiao, a born-again and devout Christian, is still very much against same-sex marriage.
Here’s Pacquiao’s statement on the issue in 2012, as reported by ABC news:
"I'm not against gay people. I have a relative who is also gay. We can't help it if they were born that way. What I'm critical of are actions that violate the word of God. I only gave out my opinion that same-sex marriage is against the law of God."
So on Saturday night, the boxing world will be forced to choose between one man with a track record of domestic violence, and another who voted to prevent poor women from gaining access to birth control. Either way, you'll be rooting for a man with a questionable track record when it comes to women's issues. There's no right choice.