Will Pacquiao Fans Disappear in the Aftermath of a Floyd Mayweather Victory?
Since his upset win over Oscar de la Hoya in 2008, Manny Pacquiao has been one of boxing’s biggest economic engines. His success as a mega-earner in the sport is due in large part to the way his electrifying boxing style and his historic accomplishments have drawn a host of Filipino and Filipino-American fans to his banner. Many of these fans had little or no interest in boxing prior to the win that catapulted Pacquiao to the sport’s forefront, over the heads of even its usual kings in the heavyweight division.
Yet as we have already discovered in the case of Pacquiao, fans who are drawn to a fighter solely because has become a highly visible success are fickle. I don’t have any statistics to prove my belief, but my observations of internet comments, forum activity and web traffic lead me to believe that the host of Pacfans is either not as vociferous as it used to be or as large as it used to be, and perhaps both. Pacmania is already diminishing, and should Pacquiao lose to Mayweather as many experts think he will, the phenomenon may go into steep decline.
Pacmania Already Subsiding
The handwriting is on the wall, and it says a lot of Pacfans have already packed it in. I attribute this to two things. First, seven years have elapsed since Pacquiao’s rise to superstardom. People lose interest, so it only follows that some of his fanbase have moved on to other things, especially when you consider that most of the fans who came to him after his win over de la Hoya were not originally boxing fans in a larger sense.
Second, fans who were drawn to Pacquiao without either originally being or later becoming general boxing fans too are especially prone to losing interest if their guy suffers a decisive loss. The visible decline in support of Pacquiao began, not coincidentally, two years ago following his brutal knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacfans, Meet The Tysoniestas
When the mob of Pacfans exploded onto boxing several years ago, their collective attitude reminded me of another group of fans who loved a particular boxer, but not the sport: the Tysoniestas. Those with memories stretching back to the 1980s and 1990s will remember these devotees to Mike Tyson well, and should see the parallels.
Like the Tysoniestas, most (not all, but most) of Pacquiao’s fanbase didn’t care about boxing before he entered the scene, know little of the sport, and won’t care about it after their idol leaves. Likewise, Tysoniestas and Pacfans show a propensity to ludicrous conspiracy theories to explain away their fighters losses.
Just as Tyson’s rape conviction was a set-up to many in his fan base, excuses and theories based on false evidence gushed from the Tyson chorus in the wake of his first defeat at the hands of Evander Holyfield. In the case of Pacquiao, his knockout defeat by longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth encounter sparked bizarre videos of “foot stomping” and baseless claims of Marquez using PEDs (ironic, given that Mayweather’s camp once tarred Pacquiao himself with the same brush).
The similarities between the two groups of fans of only a particular boxer, and not boxing overall along with the boxer, now seem to be extending to what happens after the fighter suffers a decisive loss. The Tysoniestas tried to hang on to their illusions after the first Holyfield loss, but that was impossible for a large chunk of them after the infamous ear-biting incident. Tyson soldiered on for years after his 1997 disqualification, but his fan base was never the same and steadily dissipated.
What Hangs In The Balance
If Pacquiao can defy the odds-makers and give Floyd Mayweather his first loss, the result will be truly staggering, as the candlepower of his fan following goes supernova. All the fickle, departed fans will come racing back, and new fans will be pulled into his orbit.
Yet the reverse is also true. Most of Pacquiao’s fan base consists of fair weather fanboys who couldn’t care less about pugilism. If he should suffer a loss to Mayweather, and that being his second, modern, clear career defeat, more of those fair weather fans will lose interest and desert the flag. Defeat for Pacquiao won’t spell the end of his career, but it will almost certainly be the beginning of the end for his days as one of the sport’s biggest cash cows.