Bernard Inocentes S. Garcia
I’VE never been to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada and witnessed the spectacle of a live boxing match. I could only imagine people shouting and the ladies dressed to nines, waiting to be entertained by fistic violence.
I remember Miguel Cotto’s face. It was bloody; his lips got so busted that the referee had to stop the fight in the final round. With eyes almost shut, another fighter, Oscar de la Hoya, could only shake his head and quit on his stool after the 8th round.
Who could forget Antonio Margarito’s bludgeoned face?
Most memorable was the quick stoppage of Ricky Hatton, who was lying flat on the canvas in the 2nd round. People had to wake him up, his eyes twitching. Outside the ring, his fiancée covered her mouth in disbelief, and wept. Manny Pacquiao was brutal.
As a fighter, Manny’s used to victories and to the adulation of the fans. Like a
victorious Roman general, he’d be paraded in the streets, where people in the slums and employees inside buildings shouted his name and waved their hands in recognition of a hero. Nobody must have said “memento mori” to Manny Pacquiao.
In ancient Rome during a victory parade, a slave would tap the general’s shoulder and
whisper, “memento mori.” It means “remember your mortality.” It’s a timely reminder for oftentimes reality is buried when the sound of adulation is deafening.
Pacquiao lives by knocking out people. Soon he, too, will get knocked out.
Muhammad Ali stopped Joe Frazier in the historic “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975 when Frazier’s trainer Eddie Futch threw in the towel after the 14th round. But in 1980, Ali, too, was stopped by Larry Holmes, who likewise suffered the fate of Ali and other former champions. In 1988, then 21-year old Mike Tyson took the aging Larry Holmes out in 4 brutal rounds.
After his controversial loss to the younger Timothy Bradley, Jr., Pacquiao said: “I hope you’re not dismayed or discouraged. I can fight. I can still fight.” The adverb was disturbing, and the words seemed to come from a former champion whose better days were over. In the fight against Bradley, gone were the fighter’s raw fury and uncontrolled aggression; instead, he was sluggish. Pacquiao was suddenly an old man.
In 2001, I was with my pet dog Sniper, a Doberman puppy, when I watched on TV the first fight of Manny Pacquiao in American soil. Sporting streaks of blond hair and displaying blinding speed and power, the young Pacquiao dethroned African champion Lehlo Ledwaba in 6 rounds. With the emphatic win, the unheralded Filipino boxer arrived in America like a raging typhoon.
Now the rage is gone. Pacquiao is a rich, contented man, which is bad for a fighter. Is the end of the road near for the 8th-Division World Champion? Memento mori. That’s how it works. Even Muhammad Ali couldn’t beat them all.
Sniper died two years ago. Time is fleeting as shown in the rise and fall of champions.