I wrote this shortly after the Fight of the Century. My schedule though has sent a few blows my way since. Here it is though:
Watching boxing only featured on my to-do list on the nights I felt I needed to prepare for an alien invasion; I’m sure no alien can take an uppercut and stay standing. Since alien invasions only take place in the US, my to-do list never, ever featured watching the sport. That’s until MayWeather Promotions carefully injected a cool video into my Facebook newsfeed and I was sucked into the global ‘Fight of the century’ buzz. Several days later, I emerged from the darkest parts of the internet with a full-grown beard, a gruff voice and red eyes struggling to stay open – the interwebs had only let me out because my body was shutting down after going so long without food.
From all the stuff I’d watched and read, my contributions to the lunchtime pre-fight debates generally rose above the when and where. I had a few whys under my belt too. And from the stuff I’d seen, I loved Pacman’s 500 blows per second; they make for great YouTube viewing. Mayweather though, seemed billed to take the day and up till a few hours to the fight, I was in his corner. My preference wasn’t based in any way on boxing statistics or any of that stuff I suppose ardent fans use – I don’t think any late-comer to the bout, like me, can comfortably say that their choice of whom they were backing was based on anything beyond emotions.
Power tip: You can tell a late-comer to the sport from how they refer to the fight. “Let’s go watch the match” vs “Let’s go watch the fight”.
My backing changed during the pre-fight interviews. With Mayweather flashing money and bragging while Pacquiao, a believer, flashing his Jesus T-shirt, cheerful and just seeming like a nice person to be around, I crossed the ring. There and then, for me, the fight quickly escalated to God vs Money. It wasn’t physical anymore; it went spiritual -David vs Goliath. Surely, God would show this money-trusting showman what’s up. One blow, delivered early, to later be referred to as the “Blow of God”, much like the “hand of God”, would put Mayweather in his place – on the canvas.
The fight starts. And I wait for that blow. Of the 6 of us watching the fight, only 2 are with Pacman. Just like Mayweather, his fans are loud (that’s my story). Round 1. 2. 3. Nothing yet. In round 4, Pacman delivers some heavy stuff that leaves Mayweather momentarily dazed. In that instant, Mayweather tries to think happy thoughts. Round 5. 6. More spurts of brilliance but still no blow of God. If I had a room to myself, I’d probably have broken out in prayer at that point, calling God to swoop down and deliver the blow Himself. With 5 people around, it isn’t an option. Round 7. 8. 9. Mayweather’s loud fans now mellow down; a deep respect for Pacman has walked into the room and hushed all the bad things they were saying initially. We now wait with bated breath on the outcome. 10. 11. Pacman has done quite a bit of chasing; Mayweather is giving Usain Bolt a run for his money.
And then it is over. May had weathered the storm and come out on top. And suddenly, my relationship with God was shaken. It didn’t take much to rock my faith boat very fiercely. Why had such a good evangelism opportunity gone unused? Why had Pacman, who’d stuck his head and heart out very boldly for God gone out like that? Why should I trust God if someone like that, on a platform that big, can be left hanging? What would everyone now say about my God? Why hadn’t we (It wasn’t just Pacman anymore, it was we now) won? At that instant, I was scared to keep trusting – Pacman had done everything right.
In my head, 2015 is the year of God showing off; LeCrae, a Christian rapper, for the first time in history, topping Gospel and Billboard charts was just act one. This global showdown was supposed to be act two.
I was quite low. I went to church a few hours later but the storm was still raging; that one result had managed to shake loose all those things He’d done for me. All from a fight I didn’t care about a few months prior. *sigh*
In all this, I kept thinking that God cared about the Mayweather whose ways I didn’t think highly of. That Christ died for him too; that Christ loved and cared for him too. And that Christ could be reaching out to him. I used a right hook to get rid of that thought.
Wisdom though came from my wife when she reminded broody me that at the cross, the bystanders were probably just as angry and confused as I was; probably angrier. They asked why Christ had done all those miracles but He didn’t save himself. “Come on Jesus, come off the cross, save yourself, show these naysayers!” the believers must have pleaded. “Deliver the blow of God!” I pleaded. They, like me, didn’t see that victory had indeed come – though not in the form they wanted.
I still don’t know what the victory here is. I do know that Pacman showed up; he didn’t skip training and wait on the blow of God like I might have. He showed up and gave a very spirited performance. He was a great sportsman about it and embodied a lot of humility. He smiled through everything, took selfies with fans and was the kind of bold believer I will be when I grow up (and get boxing gloves, and have to fight).
I have a new respect for Mayweather though. He was, Usain Bolt antics aside, very, very smart about the way he went about the fight. I’ll definitely stay up to watch his next fight- and I’ll be in his corner this time.