Thursday, December 02, 2021

Limpag: The game Casimero is playing


Watching the exchanges online between Filipino boxing champions Nonito Donaire Jr. and Johnreil Casimero these days reminds me of a stupid game we played as boys back in South Cotabato.

Sometimes, when games get rough, or the teasing gets too intense, two boys will be so incensed that they’d be posturing for a fight. And their friends would be egging them on as they snarl at each other, saying, “Now what?”

Of course, no one would dare throw the first punch so in comes the referee. He’d break them apart, momentarily, but ask Boy A, “If you really want to fight him, slap my hand.” A moment’s hesitation, of course, is all that is needed for the rest of the crew to tease, “Ah, you hesitated. You’re scared.”

A slap gained, the referee-slash-instigator would then approach Boy B, “Oh, he slapped my hand. If you’re really tough, slap my hand too.” (These exchanges that I recall “sound” better in Bisaya in my head.) Boy B, of course, has no recourse but to do the same, because if he hesitates, there would be non-stop teasing by the class until the next bunch of stupid boys gets in the same game.

Donaire and Casimero, it seems, are slapping hands, showing their intent to fight but, like the games we played as kids, there’s no fight that’s going to happen.

Instead, all the talk is about who hesitated longer, who seemed to be more eager to get the fight done or who really just wanted a way out.

If you believe Casimero, Donaire is ducking him. If you believe Donaire, Casimero is refusing to sign a contract.

One of them has got to be lying, right?

As kids, of course, we learned to distinguish between tough guys and guys who love to talk tough. This is not to say that I think Casimero is just all talk. He’s one tough customer you wouldn’t want to meet in a back alley. But in the last couple of years, he has embraced the role of heel so much that he hasn’t learned when to back off.

From belittling Donaire to insulting his wife to beckoning for a fight between Donaire’s wife and Casimero’s companion (?) to insulting Freddie Roach.

His recent mishap as a guy behind the camera (a Youtuber) instead of being in front of the camera should have taught Casimero to be more circumspect in what he says, but as in the case for most, lessons in life come too late for some.

Of course, some will say it’s just part of the business that is boxing, right?

I think this fight is going to happen and fans will be talking about it for years. But like kids I grew up with, we forget about the fights or who won them; or the games that led to them.

What we remember is the person’s character.


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