Pacquiao’s legacy is, indeed, secure

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Friday, April 11, 2014


I WILL watch tomorrow’s welterweight bout between Filipino Manny Pacquiao and American Timothy Bradley in my house on pay-per-view. SkyCable collected from me P999 (translation, P1,000). That’s too expensive compared with the time I was a Dream Satellite subscriber.

My wife actually told me the company she is working with will show the fight live for a cheap price. I initially thought of opting to bring the family there tomorrow until I remembered my neighbors who always form a crowd in our house to watch Manny fights live and for free. So I closed my eyes and bought that expensive cable offering.

Manny Pacquiao fights no longer excite me like they did in the past. The Pacman is no longer establishing his name in world boxing—rather, he is already an established name and is even now on the decline. He had reached the pinnacle as boxing’s best pound-for-pound. Now he is still among the 10 top fighters in the world but no longer No. 1.

Besides, times have changed. When Manny first fought in the United States and surprised the hapless world featherweight champ Lehlo Ledwaba, world sports was dominated by truly elite athletes. Eldrick “Tiger” Woods was a supernova in golf, Roger Federer was unbeatable in tennis and Kobe Bryant was Michael Jordan’s heir apparent in basketball. Woods, Federer and Bryant are on decline now
Pacquiao became the toast of world boxing from 2001 to 2009, defeating popular and Hall of Fame quality fighters even as the current pound-for-pound king, the undefeated American Floyd Mayweather Jr. went on semi-retirement at that time. He earned millions in dollars as he did that.

In those days, I would lap up all the stories about Pacquiao in the internet, especially after he won a bout. I remember going out of the hospital to look for an establishment that showed Manny’s fight on pay-per-view on the day my second child was
born. Those were heady days.

The Pacman was eventually crowned Boxer of the Decade by the world’s boxing writers.

His snagging championships from his days as a flyweight up to junior middleweight were considered unprecedented. The record: winning major titles in eight weight classes.

His bouts against Mexicans Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez were classics. Then he stunned the world by having Oscar de la Hoya quit on his stool, pummeling the bigger Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito for lopsided wins and knocking out Ricky Hatton with a punch.

What followed was the decline, which coincided with his winning a seat in Congress and changing religion. He lost a decision to Bradley and was knocked out cold in his fourth bout with Marquez. The biggest blow he received was outside the ring, when the Bureau of Internal Revenue in the Philippines and the Internal Revenue Service in the United States went after him for unpaid taxes.

I consider the stage Pacquiao is in as being on the comeback trail, the goal being to prove to the world that he still is on top of his game (and earn millions in dollars in the process to pay his tax liabilities). He won against the slow Brandon Rios but was tentative because it was his first fight after being knocked out by Marquez. We will find out if he has fully recovered when he fights Bradley.

But the reality is, the Pacquiao era in Philippine boxing is winding down. As they say, even a good thing has an end. But when he eventually retires, let it not be said that we Filipinos didn’t enjoy the ride. For this, I am grateful to Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, the greatest boxer the Philippines has produced.

It is because of this that his fights no longer excite me. I agree with The Ring Magazine’s Michael Rosenthal that Pacquiao has already earned his keep. Whether he wins or loses in his fights at this stage won’t matter. His legacy is already secure.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 12, 2014.

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