When two boxers come face-to-face in the ring in Las Vegas on Saturday's so-called match of the century, each man will bring with him baggage that he no doubt hopes will be ignored by fans.
Manny Pacquiao's stance against marriage equality persists. His opponent in tomorrow's much-hyped boxing match, fellow welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather, said he supports same-sex couples' right to marry, but only after issuing antigay slurs during interviews in past years.
In an interview on Chelsea Handler's since-cancelled show Chelsea Lately in 2009, Mayweather randomly implied that actor Eddie Murphy is gay, and that no one should think there was a romantic relationship between Murphy and himself.
Handler quipped, "Nobody thinks you're sleeping with Eddie Murphy." To which Mayweather responded, "OK, got to stay clear."
After Handler suggested that the boxer get comfortable and put a leg up, Mayweather responded, "If I do that, then they going to think I'm 'Hey' [flips wrist]. That ain't my style."
Then, in 2012, in what some said was a calculated move to upstage his nemesis Pacquiao, Mayweather publicly stated his support for marriage equality.
"I stand behind President Obama & support gay marriage. I'm an American citizen & I believe people should live their life the way they want," Mayweather tweeted a week after Barack Obama's historic announcement that he personally supported same-sex marriage. It came within hours of Pacquiao's announcement that he opposed marriage equality.
During a 2013 interview with the National Conservative Examiner, Pacquiao, who is also a Philippine legislator, discussed President Obama's support of marriage equality. Pacquiao was quoted as saying, "God's words first ... obey God's law first before considering the laws of man. God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other. It should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old."
While Pacquiao hasn't evolved to support marriage equality, shortly after a flurry of negative media coverage, he said he had been misquoted by the Examiner. He quickly offered an apology of sorts for hurt the "misunderstanding" may have caused.
Meanwhile, Mayweather was far from apologetic in 2010, when he called Pacquiao a "faggot" several times and vowed to force him to "make some sushi rolls and cook some rice."
Mayweather may be able to claim higher ground on marriage equality than his opponent, but his record as a batterer of women is startling. In fact, Pacquiao's coach, Freddie Roach told USA Today that his guy is extra-motivated to fight Mayweather because Mayweather has a well-documented history of violence against women.
"Manny is really against domestic violence," Roach said. "It is a big issue maybe in the Philippines for him and being a congressman he can control some of that stuff. That is a big plus for me that Manny does not like the guy, I think the killer instinct is going to come back a lot faster."
In a Grantland article published Tuesday, writer Louisa Thomas notes that Mayweather has twice been jailed for domestic violence and has been formally accused of seven assaults by five different women. On one occasion, according to records Thomas cites, the boxer allegedly punched an ex-girlfriend multiple times on top of her skull and on the back of her head, while their son Zion watched.
The $300-million fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao is scheduled for Saturday, May 2 at 11:30 p.m. Eastern at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The match is available to watch on HBO and Showtime pay-per-view.