A year ago Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was easily the biggest star from the world of combat sports. That is no longer the case. No, Georges St. Pierre hasn't taken pole position. These days Manny Pacquiao is without doubt the most famous fighter in the world.
SB Nation's Luke Thomas talks about Pacquiao's visit yesterday to the nation's capitol:
He's the only boxer alive who could pull this off and in no small part because of status as a Congressman from the Philippines, but boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao will meet with President Barack Obama tomorrow in Washington, DC. Think about that for a moment and try to envision anyone in MMA - Dana White or any fighter - who would be granted such a distinction. Don't bother. There's isn't one.
Luke also talked to boxing promoter Bob Arum who claimed that Pacquaio's appearance at a Harry Reid campaign rally in Nevada last year was a key to Reid's re-election:Arum had this to say:
"I think he certainly helped. You can believe or disbelieve polls, but on the Friday before election day Harry was four points behind. On election day the Senator won by five points. Now, a lot of that was the enthusiasm that Manny created. No question about it."
"Sharron Angle," Arum continued, "who was running against Senator Reid, elected to have at her final rally John McCain. I don't know what you think of John McCain, but he's no contest for Manny Pacquiao."
Recall Sen. Reid also had UFC President Dana White and former light heavyweight champions Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell stump for him as well.
It's hard to measure any impact Pacquiao may have had on the Reid as I'm sure McCain provided a decent lift to the Angle rally, if not the campaign. Perhaps the Pacquiao phenomenon is more about popularity and less about vote conversion. Still, I don't care what party it is: would you rather go to a rally with Pacquiao or McCain?
Video of the Arum interview in the full entry.