Mayweather Jr. vs. Pacquiao: The PR Fight of the Year

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Attention: PR professionals, your presence is requested in Las Vegas.

For the last month, we have read stories about the ongoing battle outside of the ring between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao regarding the drug testing procedures leading up to the now canceled March 13th bout at the MGM Grand. In one corner, the Mayweather Jr. camp insists that Pacquiao must be hiding something if he’s afraid to submit to Olympic-style drug testing before the fight. In the other corner, Pacquiao continues to vehemently deny the allegations and has since countered with an anti-defamation lawsuit against his accusers.

When I first started reading articles and watching updates on ESPNews, it seemed to me that Pacquiao was in trouble. Not because of the discussion around possible steroid use, but because the sports buff in me couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t just agree to these specific tests if he had nothing to hide. But as more of the story continued to unfold, I couldn’t help but start to sympathize with Pacquiao. While Mayweather Jr. might have a 40-0 record and is undoubtedly one of the best fighters of his generation, he is not as gifted with his communications skills. He is notorious for having Chad Ochocinco (NFL wide receiver) disease of the mouth. His continuous accusations and affinity for media spotlight comes off as childish, and some fans have even questioned whether or not he wants to fight in this match or if this is just a tactic to try and avoid a blemish on his career. Either way, it’s more apparent than ever that he should seek the advice of media professionals, or fire his current advisors, and come up with a new game plan.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao has taken a different approach. He issued a statement (see ESPN article at declaring his innocence and acknowlegded his appreciation for the support his fans have showed him during this public feud. While he certainly could have held a press conference, we need to remember that Pacquiao hails from the Philippines and doesn’t speak English very well, he instead opted to writing a statement, which was probably the best strategy. However, is there more that he should be doing? Should he be the aggressor and go on the attack via the media in an effort to further defend himself,  or is he wise to stay on the sidelines and let Mayweather Jr. continue to grab the headlines?

At this point, it is unclear which boxer is winning this PR war of words. Please take the poll below and cast your vote. Lets see what the PR industry thinks.


8 comments on “Mayweather Jr. vs. Pacquiao: The PR Fight of the Year

  1. I don’t think there is a winner right now. But I tell you who the loser is – the fans. I don’t see the point of why Mayweather is so insistent on conducting these drug tests. It seems completely arbitrary. Boxing as a sport needs a fight like this to stay viable against the overpowering fan dominance of sports like the NFL and even NASCAR. In order to help this fight happen, reps from both camps even sat down with a mediator for 9 hours the other day that left us with nothing at the end but a short statement from Pacquiao’s camp that said, “the fight’s off.”

    Fans want to see this fight. The average layperson wants to see this fight. Why can’t both fighters realize that they’re own ego, while part of their persona, means nothing if fans don’t pay the outrageous pay-per-view fees for a mega-bout like this that, even if they lose, will help contribute to more fans caring about boxing and ultimately a rematch and more dollars. (as it seems inevitable with mega-bouts)

    The PR war may well continue with these camps, but if their fight doesn’t happen, nobody wins. And the fans lose.

    • Completely agree, and this is what Mayweather Jr. and Pacquaio don’t seem to understand. Bring in a mediator, bring in the commissioner, do something. Bottomline, get it done and make this fight happen.

  2. Sometimes the best PR strategy is to simply keep quiet and let the other side implode on its own. Bottom line Pacman is beloved by 70 million people in his country so no matter what happens, he’s got a place to go home to. His fists will do the talking.

    • Not sure I agree that keeping quiet is the right way to go, but I like the way Pacquiao handled things in contrast to Mayweather Jr. – he certainly won this round

  3. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, but work the public like a hurricane. It’s little avail to win a fight physically when the words seem to overshadow the fists.

  4. Appreciate this is late to the game, but as you’ve just tweeted the link, and on the back of Pacquaio’s victory at the weekend, I thought I’d leave a comment.

    For what it’s worth, I think it could be argued that the last 10 months have been a PR master class by all those involved. Ok, ok, I know it seems demented, but hear me out…

    Firstly, if Mayweather Jr. and Pacquaio had gone ahead in January, it would have easily been the biggest fight of the year, and probably the decade. But would it have generated such crossover appeal? Outside of the boxing fraternity, and the entire population of the Philippines, would it have drawn the ridiculous viewing figures that the promoters are dreaming of? I’m doubtful.

    Secondly, who has really lost in this process? Not Mayweather Jr, in my opinion. He still looks brash and money obsessed, as he always has. And Pacquaio has remained virtuous and full of integrity. As one of the earlier posts suggests, the only people who have really lost out are people like you and me. And sadly, we carry little credence here.

    Perhaps I’m being a sceptic (I’m British after all), but the accusations, insinuation and general melodrama that has ensued over the past year has only helped to hype this match to such unprecedented levels. Quite befitting for ‘the fight to save boxing’.

    Anyway, I’m sure it will go ahead next year – my guess is in May. Really enjoyed the original article. As someone who also works in PR, I love to read about anything involving sports and communications.

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