A K.O. for Boxing – What can we Learn from ‘The Greatest’?

Having witnessed the recent media hysteria surrounding the big Saturday night fight between Welterweight boxing greats, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, it made me ponder (albeit briefly), what it was that attracted such incredible global hype and scrutiny over a single sporting event in world history.

In a gathering of who’s who of living boxing champions and sporting legends speculating on which fighter will emerge victorious, with commentators going into a total frenzy over this much awaited ‘clash of the titans’, and sports fans all over the world tuned in to their TV’s clutching their remote controls, cold beers on hand to stop them overheating; all in anticipation of seeing these top sports men in action in the ring in Las Vegas.

The build-up for boxing fans:

Millions of viewers worldwide tuned in to watch this much awaited fight between these two impressive opponents.

Why? What is it about two ripped men almost dancing round the ring, swift in their movements, yet strong on contact, that appeals to so many people?

As ‘the greatest’ Cassius Clay, aka Muhammed Ali himself famously said, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Muhummad Ali quote

I could be somewhat cynical and say that the biggest motivating factor is money. Huge sums at stake for the boxers themselves, the promoters and broadcasters, not to mention the kudos and profile of being part of such a hotly billed occasion.

I suspect for Mayweather and Pacquiao it’s the satisfaction of going down in history being dubbed as ‘the greatest’ that floats their boats, but for the rest of us it’s the chance to speculate and admire. There are lots of egos on the line!

Bookies will have raked in a small fortune over the outcome, and UK viewers had to fork out up to £24.95 on pay-per-view over and above their normal subscriptions for the privilege of watching it. I love most sports, but I’m not a boxing fan. I don’t see the fun in two men punching seven bells out of each other; I find it too violent.

I can however, appreciate the fitness level, skill, determination and mental acuity of the participants.

Impressive as the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao (#MayPac) bout may have been, it wasn’t as iconic as the ‘rumble in the jungle’.

Mayweather may have given a masterclass in boxing technique and officially won the fight, but for me he’s not ‘the greatest’ boxer ever to have lived. He’s a close contender, but Ali will always wear that belt and hold that title. He invented the mental game.

It’s not so much the physical prowess of Muhammad Ali that I admire, as more his mental strength. He may have come across as arrogant, supremely overconfident, and a master at psyching out and knocking out his opponents, but deep down he really believed in himself, and knew how powerful beliefs are.

Mahatma Gandhi understood this too:

His mental strength equalled his physical strength, and that’s why he’s ‘the greatest’.  He harnessed the power of purpose, vision and self-belief. It’s a principle that can be applied to any endeavour in life, it’s at the core of whatever you want to achieve.

Sages throughout the ages have known this. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  We create outcomes at their most fundamental levels by what is in our minds.

We’ve all doubted ourselves at some point or other, but as long as we are aware of our inner voice and don’t take heed of the one that’s less than positive we can win our own internal battles. In boxing, there can be only one winner. But in life we can all be winners, it’s simply a state of mind…

If the sun and moon should doubt,

They’d immediately go out.

~ William Blake (Auguries of Innocence)

So going back to my question of why this particular fight was so popular, I think it’s because many people rated the individual skills and confidence of these two men and wanted to see who would reign supreme. They remind us of the greatness of the likes of Ali, and indeed of ourselves, of what we can achieve in our own unique way.

Everyone loves a winner. But if you don’t step into the ring, you’ll never know what you’re capable of.


We are the ones who sometimes have to get out of our own way, we are our own biggest opponents; the ones who decide whether or not we will be the champions of our lives.

Like me, you may not be a world class boxer, but how hard are you prepared to train? Do you believe in your chosen path and ability?

Claim your victory, make it so. Your fans will be cheering you on.

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’ I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. There goes the shawl again!” ~ Lewis Carroll

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