Pacquiao loss downs spirit of storm-hit Filipinos

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

MANILA - Filipino fans were stunned by Manny Pacquiao's knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez on Sunday, dampening the spirit of a nation battered by a powerful typhoon that killed more than 600 people in the southern region where the boxing champion lives.

In New Bataan town in Compostela Valley, which was ravaged by Typhoon “Pablo” (international codename: Bopha) last week, refugees, rescuers and aid workers took a break from a grueling search for bodies and survivors to watch the fight on a big television screen — only to feel disappointed by their hero's sixth-round knockout.

Town spokesman Marlon Esperanza said hundreds of villagers, most of whom lost their homes to mud- and rock-laden flash floods, packed the local gymnasium used as a temporary shelter. Many had hoped Pacquiao would triumph and share his earnings with the typhoon victims.


"People were really dismayed," Esperanza told The Associated Press by telephone. "It was like they were hit by another typhoon."

Elementary math teacher Constancio Olivar said people were cheering for Pacquiao in the sixth round, then fell into a silence for about 10 seconds when Marquez landed a shot flush to the jaw of Pacquiao, who fell heavily to the canvas and remained motionless for some time.

"It was like a double blow for me — this disaster and this defeat," said Olivar. His house was destroyed but he escaped with his wife, his youngest daughter and a grandchild. "We were all crestfallen. Everyone fell silent, stunned. It was like we saw a tsunami."

In Manila, President Benigno Aquino III's spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Pacquiao's defeat "cannot set aside the many honors Manny has given to the Filipino people."

"Nothing has changed, the Filipino people continue to admire and support Manny," he said, adding the Filipino boxing champ has again shown his dedication to fight for his countrymen.

Vice President Jejomar Binay said the Sarangani lawmaker should be saluted for showing the “true heart of a champion.”

“He has shown that he has the true heart of a champion and made us all proud to be Filipinos. I am certain that Manny will rise from this adversity a better and stronger person with his faith in the Almighty even more unshakeable,” he said.

For Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, Pacquiao has shown determination not only for this fight but on aiding victims of Typhoon Pablo.

“Filipinos are truly resilient and through bayanihan, we will rise again over Pablo and just like our true champion Manny Pacquiao, he will rise again and fight even harder,” he said.

Marquez knocked out Pacquiao with a quick and solid right hand punch at the end of sixth round.

Boxing analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz said the defeat could demoralize Filipinos, particularly those in the typhoon-hit areas on the main southern island of Mindanao where Pacquiao is from.

"It's a double tragedy," he said. "People were looking at Pacquiao winning to give them some joy, some hope, some satisfaction. It didn't happen. On top of that, their anguish is further heightened as a result of his loss. ... This is like (Pablo) took a U-turn and came back to hit us with a Pacquiao knockout."

Nathanielsz said Pacquiao, who trained for two months, may not have spent enough time for physical conditioning unlike Marquez, who spent twice as many months preparing for the fight.

"The problem is when you get older, everything else must flow from the basic foundation of strength and conditioning. If you are not in condition, you have a problem," he said.

Retire from boxing

At the Baclaran Central Elementary School hall in Paranaque, Manila, where hundreds watched the fight, government employee Jacqueline Gabriel said she too was dismayed by Pacquiao's performance.

"Pacman is weaker now," she said, using Pacquiao's nickname. "He is no longer like what he used to be. ... He should retire now."

A good number of the boxing fans in Davao City also declared it was time for Pacquiao to retire from boxing.

"Yes, if he is to focus on public service," Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) athletic director William "Butch" Ramirez said when asked if Pacquiao, a congressman, should retire for good.

"It's a sign that he has to retire and begin to answer what he said is his calling, to serve God and to serve the people," said Alberto Egot Jr., marketing officer of Kisan Lu Lands. "On the other hand, he has to see the defeat as inspiration that no one in this world is greater than anybody. Pacman is a hero already win or loss."

"Ana lang gyud nang kinabuhi, ang tanan dunay kinatuban (That's how life goes, everything will come to an end)," said Jenielito Atillo, spokesperson of the Department of Education in Davao Region.

Fight again

But factory worker Charlie Cerillo, 37, of Paranaque, said Pacquiao should not retire just yet.

"He should not have been a congressman. He should focus on sports and if he wants to be a congressman, he should focus on being a congressman," he said.

Others said it would be better for the Filipino boxer to bounce back and win his next fight.

In Pampanga, former Lubao mayor Dennis Pineda, who hosted a free public viewing of the fight in many areas in Sta. Rita town, said Pacquiao should now go back to an even more intense training and should also prepare for a possible fifth fight.

Pineda said Filipinos, in general, would still support Pacquiao if he decides to fight again after his recent defeat.

“He became too complacent and became over confident. He needs now to reevaluate his fighting style and learn from this defeat,” Pineda said, stressing that Pacquiao would also need to look after politics.

He added that Pacquiao would have been able to defeat Marquez.

Tristan Guanzon, 29, said Pacquiao should redeem himself and live up to the expectations of his boxing fans. He said Pacquiao should start rigorous practice soon.

In social networking sites, however, most Filipinos displayed mixed reactions over Pacquiao’s defeat. Some even celebrated it and called for Pacquiao’s immediate retirement from boxing.

"He was in charge," Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said. "He just got a little too careless and got hit with a punch he didn't see."

Promoter Bob Arum immediately said he could see a fifth fight between the two boxers, and a dazed Pacquiao seemed to agree.

"Why not?" he said.

Sunday’s fight result was the first real loss by Pacquiao since 2005 when he lost a unanimous decision to Erik Morales.

It was only the third time he had been stopped, having suffered a knockout and a TKO early in his career.

His mother, Dionisia, said that if it was up to her, she wanted her son to stop boxing.

"I want him to rest now, to relax," she told dzMM radio. "If he wants to be a politician, let him serve and pour everything into that. ... Only God will make him stop."

She lashed out, however, at boxing promoter Bob Arum and some pastors who she said influenced his son to turn his back on his Catholic faith. She also stopped short of blaming them for the result of Sunday’s fight.

Dionisia recalled that it was Manny’s strong Catholic faith that helped him win his previous fights, that is why he advised Manny and Jinkee to return to their Catholic faith.

“May sikreto na itong anak ko kasi makulit ang mga pastor talaga sa kanya. Hindi ako matakot kahit sino pa sila, harapin ko sila. Magulo ang mga pastor dito sa bahay ni Manny. Magulo. Bakit kunin niya ang anak ko eh tahimik siya? Yan ang nakapagchampion sa anak ko, ang dati niyang relihiyon na pinanggalingan niya,” she said in a television report.

Pacquiao earlier declared that he is now a Born Again Christian.

For her part, Jinkee was relieved to learn that all the medical tests performed on Manny after the fight cleared him of any serious injury.

A hysterical Jinkee was seen on TV trying to go near the ring to be with her husband when he fell flat on his face and fell unconscious on the sixth round.

“By the grace of God, I’m okay. Nagulat ako kasi first time ko nakita si Manny na matagal nakabangon so natakot talaga ako… Praise God na okay naman siya. Hindi na namin iniisip na natalo siya, basta ang mahalaga yung kalusugan niya,” a tweet of ANC quoted Jinkee as saying.

“Unang sinabi ko sa kanya may purpose si Lord na baka gusto niya huminto ka na sa boxing, mag-focus na lang tayo sa Kanya,” another post on ANC’s Twitter account read.

Pacquiao and Marquez’s first fight was in 2004. It ended in a draw. The subsequent rematches were in 2008 and 2011 wherein Pacquiao landed victorious.

Despite defeat on Sunday, Pacquiao was guaranteed $8.6 million for the fight, but his share of pay-per-view (PPV) revenues will push his paycheck past $20 million.

Meanwhile, Marquez got a share of only $3 million, but could increase up to $10 million with a big PPV audience. (AP/Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/IOF of Sun.Star Pampanga/Sun.Star Davao/LRC of Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)

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