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Pacquiao vs Bradley 3: Is PacMan in the 'bad guy' role for the first time?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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A boxing match is like a cowboy movie. There's got to be good guys and there's got to be bad guys. And that's what people pay for - to see the bad guys get beat

- Former Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston, a (perceived) bad guy

Like pro wrestling, boxing is always more interesting to the masses when the public perceives a match-up as 'good guy vs bad guy.'

Joe Frazier vs Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard vs Roberto Duran, Oscar De La Hoya vs Fernando Vargas, Marco Antonio Barrera vs Prince Naseem Hamed and Wladimir Klitschko vs David Haye.
... And yes, Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao vs Antonio Margarito.

Adrien Broner, for example, wears the Black Hat very well.

Most tend to cheer for the perceived good guy but sometimes we admire special qualities exhibited by the so-called bad guy and are drawn to him as a result because he possesses certain traits we can, or want, to realate to.

Match-ups between fighters of contrasting personalities make the sport a lot more fun because the contest becomes more than a fight in the ring. Hence, in some ways, it becomes a battle of philosophies and ideals, figuratively if not literally.

Ali vs Frazier I

In 1971 heading into their superfight, Muhammad Ali, outspoken, brash and overly confident, wore the 'Black Hat' while Joe Frazier, modest and humble, was viewed by most in the U.S. as the good guy. Nevertheless, the younger, hipper, more liberal anti-war demographic had a strong preference for 'The Greatest' while the older, more conservative, blue collar, pro-war demographic liked Smokin' Joe.

In many other parts of the world, however, Ali was perceived as the good guy while Frazier was seen as a symbol of the presumed violent and antagonistic U.S government,.

Pacquiao vs Bradley 3
Manny Pacquiao is undoubtedly one of the kindest, most sincere athletes in sports but perception often trumps reality, and Manny has fallen out of favor with many. Following his comments about gays, sponsors now avoid him, and HBO and his promoter are distancing themselves from him.

He was even heckled by someone earlier this week while leaving a restaurant.

Pacquiao vs Bradley 3
Date: April 9, 2016
TV: HBO PPV, BoxNation
Location: Las Vegas
Time: 9:00pm ET (U.S.)
Division: Welterweight

... And keep in mind, Manny is still reeling from the fallout of the Mayweather bout. By announcing he fought injured soon after the fight, he not only sounded like he was trying to make an excuse for not fighting up to expectations, he angered folks who still believe they paid $100 for a diminished product.

Will Manny Pacquiao, following the fallout of the Mayweather vs Pacquiao disappointment and his controversial comments about gays, be perceived as the villain for the first time in his career?

And will there be far more supporters cheering for Tim Bradley Saturday night.

Tim Bradley, ironically, isn't wearing the Black Hat he wore for their previous bouts. The nasty threats and evil scowls are gone. He's coming across like a blue collar, hard-working fella desperate for the fame and respect the outgoing Pacquiao has enjoyed for so long.

Don't be surprised if Manny is viewed as the bad guy on Saturday night. But like the much-adored Ali before him, history will treat Manny Pacquiao kindly and he will be forever regarded as a good guy, humanitarian and servant of the people.


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