Saturday’s highly anticipated fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is being billed as the biggest, most important event in recent boxing history.

The dramatic matchup is expected to draw millions of viewers. Ahead of the fight, Mayweather has drawn attention for his alleged abuse of women, while Pacquiao has drawn attention among some for his Christian faith.

“Everything I have accomplished, God has given me this strength,” Pacquiao told reporters at a pre-fight press conference. “I used to sleep in the street, hungry, and I cannot imagine that the Lord raised me to this level of life.” He frequently mentions Jesus in his interviews and on social media.

Pacquiao, who was raised Catholic in the Philippines, said he was drinking and gambling earlier in his career. Later, Trinity Broadcasting Network says, Pacquiao “became a born-again Christian.”

Saddleback pastor Rick Warren has called Pacquiao a “Bible-quoting maniac.” When ESPN asked whether faith makes him a better boxer, Pacquiao said, “If God is with you, who can be against you? All things are possible with God.”

Pacquiao has turned much of his focus to ministry outreach in his own country, funding the construction of a church, school, and community center in General Santos City, Philippines. “What we’re doing by building this church is obeying what the Bible says,” Pacquiao told Yahoo Sports. “We’re going to feed the poor, help the widows, and teach and inspire the children about the greatness of the Lord.”

After Mayweather posted jibes directed to Pacquiao on social media last year, Pacquiao said, “I pray that someday he would change his ways.”

“He [Mayweather] should fear God,” Pacquiao said, advising him to heed the biblical passage, “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

So would Christians naturally root for Pacquaio? Not necessarily. Some are wondering whether watching boxing is ethical for Christians to engage in at all.

Skip Bayless writes at ESPN that he doesn’t have a problem with it.

Just my two cents: Even as a Christian, I love boxing because it’s the ultimate stand-alone test of a competitor’s skill and will. Just two opponents, lightly gloved, and a referee ready to jump in and stop it the moment he believes one opponent can no longer defend himself.
I’m perfectly fine with Pacquiao the Christian wanting to separate Mayweather from his senses.

Bayless does caution against Pacquiao’s response to whether he would win against Mayweather, saying “God will deliver him to me.”

Gordon Marino, a boxing trainer and professor at St. Olaf College, wrote a piece for Christianity Today magazine, on whether Christians should watch fighting.

The decisive question for Christians is, What is going to bring in the light and make us more loving, kinder human beings? On that score, I must confess that upon exiting the arena, I have seldom sensed that a night at the fights punches up our ability to love our neighbor. And yet, different people need different medicine.
Perhaps a night of flying kicks and fists can help some of us parry the malicious feelings that might otherwise harden our hearts. But those of us who need our gladiatorial combat shows should never forget the humanity—and in the case of boxing, the vulnerability—of those who are risking their health for our entertainment and anger-management therapy.

He also quotes Catholic theologian Richard McCormick:

Regardless of what answer we come up with, it is both a sign and guarantee of our abiding spiritual health to face issues at their moral root. It is never easy to question the moral character of our own pleasure and entertainment.

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