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Floyd Mayweather and the psychology of heroes and villains

Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images
Getty Images

In the year and a half since Floyd Mayweather stepped inside the ring, the pugilist has managed to keep his name in the headlines.

Unfortunately for the boxing great, it isn't for his accomplishments inside the squared circle but rather for his relative inability to do anything in public without some type of law enforcement getting involved. 

Whether it's stealing his baby mama's iPhone and being charged with felony theft or slapping around and threatening a security guard over parking tickets, Mayweather seems to be as good at getting into trouble outside the ring as he is at avoiding it inside.

The latter half of that statement can't be denied. "Pretty Boy" is an amazingly skilled defensive boxer who can put you to sleep if you're not careful. He has won every single one of his professional boxing bouts and brought his record last night to a flawless 42-0. 

In fact, the only other fighter that can be mentioned in the same breath as "Money" is Manny Pacquiao.

And that is why the inability to produce what would be the biggest boxing match of this generation -- the eagerly anticipated bout with "PacMan" -- is so frustrating. These are the two men at the pinnacle of their crafts but money, ego, and fear have kept the contract from being signed.

That isn't to say that the bout will never happen. There's actually a very good chance of the fight materializing and after last night's spectacle, there's a possibility -- nay, a probability -- that when all is said and done, the pay-per-view (PPV) will do two million buys and rake in nearly a quarter of a billion dollars once the live gate is tallied in.


Because people hate Floyd Mayweather and love Manny Pacquiao.

And we don't want it any other way.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. In our schadenfreude society, we often get more pleasure seeing someone we can't stand fail than we do witnessing a fan favorite succeeding. That kind of hatred equals buyrates. That's the line of thinking that has kept WWE and Vince McMahon in business for so long.

It's also the reason why UFC 117: "Silva vs. Sonnen" did 600,000 buys with a relatively weak undercard. While some derided Chael Sonnen's pro wrestling carney sell, numbers don't lie and fans were either eager to see him get his comeuppance or curious about whether or not the Team Quest member could back up all of his talk.

But let's be honest, sports doesn't need drama. It's a competition first and foremost and seeing two teams play for 60 minutes or two fighters go at it for three rounds is enough to draw most people in. The basic human desire to find out who is better is what drives sports.

That being said, when an element of drama is added in, it makes the experience that much better. Last season's NBA Finals were the glitz, glamour, and ego of the Miami Heat taking on the always a bridesmaid, never a bride Dallas Mavericks. This summer's Women's World Cup winners, Japan, nearly won over the entire world as they took home the trophy to a country in much need of a morale boost after a national tragedy.

Human beings tend to try to fit situations into preconceived notions and ideas. It helps us make sense of a world that can sometimes be nonsensical. Good versus bad. Heroes and villains.

Mayweather is a villain in almost every sense of the word. His two-punch combination that took out Ortiz was well within the legal guidelines set forth in the sport of boxing but was far from sporting. Sportsmanship doesn't mean jack in the grand scheme of things when it comes to wins and losses but in the realm of public opinion, it is king.

While there were proponents of "Money's" behavior last night who rightfully admonished the referee for poor officiating -- UFC bossman Dana White being a big example -- those people were likely already fans or at least respected Mayweather.

Anyone on the fence before last night on the former pound for pound king promptly hopped off and landed on the "hate" side after Mayweather landed what seemed to be a cheap shot.

When -- not if -- the rematch between the two boxers is signed, it will do huge money. And when Mayweather beats Ortiz for the second time, the desire to see him lose will grow that much more.

If Mayweather is Moriarty, Agent Smith, or Lex Luthor, Manny Pacquiao is his Sherlock Holmes, Neo, or Superman.

Floyd Mayweather is the bad guy, "PacMan" is the good guy. That's how people have made sense of this situation.

And it's going to equal millions and millions of dollars for both men.