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The Pac-Man gobbles up another Mexican

Bottom Line

by Marvin Bionat

Emmanuel Lucero, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Hector Velazquez, Oscar Larios, Jorge Solis, Oscar De La Hoya. The list has become long enough Webster’s dictionary should probably add a new entry to its next edition:

pac.quiao \pak-yau\ vt (2008) : to knock down a Mexican, often resulting in retirement

For the Filipino people, Manny’s multi-divisional dominance in the ring capped the other night by his victory against the Golden Boy of boxing is a major source of national pride. It secures for us Filipinos not just a clear advantage in the Philippine-Mexican rivalry in boxing, but another well-deserved spot in the boxing world’s hall of fame (the others being Pancho Villa, considered to be the greatest Asian boxer in his time, and Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, who defended his junior lightweight championship belt for seven years, a record that has yet to be broken).

Apart from his remarkable skills and power as a boxer, Manny’s success has been bolstered by smart match making. Boxing history is replete with the emergence of young rising stars, unstoppable in their ascent to a championship and dominance. On the other hand, there are older stars who inevitably lose their luster, and for them there is nowhere else to go but down. The Mexican legends “pacquiaoed” by Manny (specifically Morales, Barrera, Marquez and De La Hoya) were in their 30s and were arguably past their prime when they had the misfortune of exchanging blows with the Filipino pugilist, now only 29. Just like other boxing greats, Manny will continue to clobber those who stand in his way, assuming the same level of dedication and the brilliant mentorship of American trainer Freddie Roach.

Trainer to other boxing greats like Tyson and De La Hoya himself, Roach, for his role in giving traction to Manny’s great career, should be honored by the Philippines in a big way. Since we don’t confer knighthood, we should officially give him anything close to it: Maharlika award, honorary citizenship, or whatever high honor Malacañang has to offer.

When he first debuted in Las Vegas in 2001, Manny was a one-dimensional fighter. You stand in front of him, and he will go after you with the ferocity of a dump truck. That’s well and good, but sooner or later rampaging dump trucks get outsmarted in a sport that has become a sweet science (think Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy versus Foreman). The other night Pacquiao moved, bobbed, weaved and went in and out like a truly honed muti-dimensional boxer — thanks to the genius of Roach, who has treated Manny and other Filipino boxers under his tutelage as his sons. I hope we express our gratitude to the legendary trainer soon, especially in what seems like a time of need for him: he was shaking quite visibly the other night due to Parkinson’s disease.

Despite his training under Roach, I share the observation of boxing analysts that Manny still looks a little awkward at times, especially if you use as points of reference boxing greats like Mohammad Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard, who performed with the exquisite grace, balance, and stability of ballet dancers. For sure, Manny performs quite effectively in the ring, but for him it’s more like tinikling, not exactly Swan Lake. Well, guess what, Manny delivers and he is the champion, not us whiny armchair observers.

Rumored next match: British Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton will be an exciting opponent. He has a formidable record (losing only once in his 46 fights) and has the same height and body mass as Manny. What I’d really like to see, though, is the quick and elusive Floyd Mayweather come out of retirement. Pretty much all of the boxing greats lost to someone sooner or later. Mayweather capped his career by defeating De La Hoya in a decision and knocking out Hatton in the 10th, and then he retired undefeated. From 2005 until he retired in 2008, Mayweather was The Ring magazine’s No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Manny earned that same title this year without having to fight him. Maybe we should find out who really is No. 1 pound for pound. After all, Mayweather is only 31, so perhaps his star has some upward traction left.

Manny for office in 2010: I don’t really think it’s a brilliant idea, especially if he allows himself to be used by the administration. This was proven when Darlene Custodio, a frail wisp of a young lady, knocked him down in their 2006 congressional bout in General Santos City. However, if he runs as an independent and starts talking beyond “ration politics” (he has to prove that his concept of a good politician is much more than one who gives away goodies to constituents “to help the poor”), then perhaps he deserves another shot. We certainly need politicians who don’t have the incentive to steal, and Manny, just with the other night’s paycheck, will have more than enough money to even think about kickbacks.

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Note: The image above is not the official poster but an artwork by lotur at Pacland Forum
Marvin Bionat is the creator of PhilippineUpdate.com, a news and views site that has served as a virtual platform that promotes various advocacies, including the political empowerment of overseas Filipinos and accountability in government. He wrote the National Bookstore bestseller How to Win (or Lose) in Philippine Elections (Anvil Publishing, 1998) and is now based in the U.S. working as an editor.

Read more articles by Marvin Bionat ************************************************************************

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