Manny Pacquiao didn’t put up much of a fight against Floyd Mayweather during the billed “Fight of the Century” as the welterweight lost by unanimous decision, but this week the Filipino suffered perhaps his most shocking and devastating knockout after he made anti-gay comments in his home country.
During an interview with a Filipino television station, Pacquiao called those involved in homosexuality “worse than animals.”
“Do you see animals mating with the same sex?” Pacquiao asked during the interview. “Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women, they are worse than animals.”
Pacquiao has served as a member of the Philippine House of Representatives since 2010, and is now running for the country’s senate.
Filipinos are a deeply Christian population with as many as 90 percent of citizens following the teachings of Jesus Christ. As such, while the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities are tolerated, widespread discrimination persists, and Pacquiao’s comments were likely a bit of political pandering.
Reap What You Sow
The world’s second highest-paid celebrity according to Forbes with an estimated $160 million in earnings last year, Pacquiao has lost some of his 2016 earnings potential after Nike announced this week it was severing ties with the boxer over the insulting comments.
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” Nike said in its firing of the boxing legend. “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.”
Of the $160 million Manny received in 2015, $12 million came from sponsorships. Though he has deals with Foot Locker, Wonderful Pistachios, and Nestle, the main chunk of that figure arises from Nike.
May’s bout against Floyd Mayweather went down as the most profitable boxing event in the sport’s history. 4.4 million pay-per-view purchases led to a revenue shattering record of $410 million.
Mayweather made over $230 million from the fight, nearly as much as San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan has made in his entire 18-year career, while Pacquiao netted $150 million.
That’s why Nike ending its eight-year relationship with Pacquiao will cause the ringmaster the loss of little sleep.
Ugly Swan Song
Manny will reface Timothy Bradley Jr. on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Four years ago, Bradley upset Pacquiao and ended his seven-year undefeated streak.
In 2016, the match will be Pacquiao’s last before he officially retires from boxing at the age of 37 and heads home start his new life as a full-time senator should he win.
Pacquiao was the fan favorite against Mayweather, but in America his support will likely diminish.
Pacquiao doubled down on his position on Tuesday by releasing a statement that read, “I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me… I still stand on my belief that I’m against same sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I’m not condemning LGBT.”
The LGBT demographic isn’t traditionally known for its passion of boxing, but come April expect advocacy leaders to make their voices heard when Pacquiao arrives on the Strip for his career’s curtain call.