After the rumble, here is a Filipino saying that, well, Manny Pacquiao really lost that fight, and he might lose his upcoming fights if he does not realize what is wrong
John Gabriel Pabico-Lalu
IS IT THAT BAD TO KILL? Natural law says so, and most of the world’s major religions says so. At least one, which has the most number of followers, considers killing as a mortal sin. According to the Bible, which are used by the Christians and Jews, the Ten Commandments, which were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, orders its people to refrain from killing. Commandment number five says, “Thou shall not kill”.
Pretty ironic though: two important personalities whose stories are found on the same book –– who are actually Israel’s first two kings –– have claimed to have killed a lot of people. The first king had killed so many, but the second king was said to have killed more.
What is more ironic is that the people in the book celebrated these statistics:
“As they danced, they sang: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:7)
Do Bible verses make this article sound like a pastor’s sermon already? Well, if you think so, you might have not heard Manny Pacquiao yet –– yes, the world’s one and only eight-division boxing champion, the Filipino jack-of-all-trades –– speak in front of crowds gathered not to witness his nut-cracking punches, but to hear him share the Word of God.
I can only imagine how Pacquiao has made a lot of people laugh or sigh as he always finds a way to inject Bible verses in every interview, no matter how irrelevant it is. As if his entire life depended on a single book, or in the religion that he belongs to.
Yes, Pacquiao speaks and preaches the things stated in the Bible, as a testament to his renewed faith, while being a prized athlete. Not bad at all, actually.
But aside from that, he also coaches and plays for an expansion team in the Philippine Basketball Association, drafts the laws of the land as the congressman of the lone district of Saranggani, features in a sports program in GMA-7, attends to different endorsements locally and internationally, records his own entrance song, all of these while training for a mega-fight against the best pound-for-pound, undefeated, defensive boxer in Floyd Mayweather.
It seems to that he moves in an entirely different timeline.
It’s not bad to be the best boxer in terms of a Bible quiz bee. Sometimes though, it seems that the guy is losing his bearings. Sure it is hard to fight a superbly-skilled boxer like Mayweather, and even harder to go up against the demands of the prima donna fighter.
But it might be safe enough to say that Pacquiao’s own enemy is himself, and the alleged shoulder injury that he incurred while he was training for the Fight of the Century.
When Pacquiao lost to Mayweather, it is his own doing.
The eye of the tiger
Last Sunday, GMA-7’s Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho aired an interview where Pacquiao was shown a footage of his fight against a local boxer, years before his fame shot to a world-wide status. In that fight, the young and struggling Pacquiao eliminated his opponent using his blazing hand speed and hammering power punches. It seemed for a while that Pacquiao had the urge to kill his counterpart –– literally –– just to win the fight.
Pacquiao never stopped punching, like a faster version of Nonito Donaire, until the referee called it a halt in just the second round.
Why Pacquiao became famous can be attributed to his fighting style: a fast-paced, power-packed punching exhibition coupled with a devil-may-care offensive strategy –– that is, if that can even be considered as a strategy at all. Pacquiao used to be the typical reckless boxer: all offense, no defense, aside from lacking a strong right hand that should be his lead punch since he is a southpaw.
The defense and the strategy ultimately developed when he went to the Wild Card Gym. Coach Freddie Roach transformed Pacquiao from being a devastating fighter to an assassin, an executioner, who had power on both hands. The punching power was evident in his stoppage of Erik Morales in their second and third fight, and the famous second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton.
His foot speed also increased, an aspect which was obvious in the Pacquiao-De la Hoya fight, where the Filipino congressman would place five to eight consecutive punches in the face and the body of De la Hoya, and sneak away to his side afterwards, making it difficult for Golden Boy to connect.
These fights of Pacquiao were probably the highlights of his career, because after Hatton, Pacquiao was unable to completely knock any of his subsequent opponents, considering that his rise to fame can be attributed to his sensational wins via knockouts.
Larger than life
But actually, it should not be a problem if Pacquiao has not KO’d anyone since November 2009.
That should not give him nightmares: a masterful performance can be considered as a masterful performance even if it goes to the scorecards. Pacquiao did not win on a knockdown when he was against Antonio Margarito, but the beating Margarito received was more than enough to give that fight to General Santos native.
The real problem is that of his last six fights, he lost three. The results of two of these fights –– the Bradley and the Mayweather fight –– are probably debatable, but the sixth round knockout from Juan Manuel Marquez was without a doubt, convincing and scary.
He laid prone to the canvas for more than a minute –– unconscious.
Were the skill level and the over-all strength of his opponents a factor? Yes, of course: Pacquiao started his professional career eight weight classes below his current division –– which is a more than fifty pounds increase in weight. De la Hoya, Hatton, Joshua Clottey, Margarito, Shane Mosley, Timothy Bradley, and even Marquez and Mayweather were naturally bigger than Pacquiao. It was always Pacquiao who had the disadvantage in size and wingspan.
Style makes fights too: Clottey, Bradley and Chris Algeri spent a lot of time moving away from a head-on confrontation with the Filipino boxer.
But if there is anybody who can easily negate a size disadvantage, it is Pacquiao. So when Mayweather and Pacquiao faced last May 2, it is a wonder why the eight-division world champion was unable to threaten Mayweather gravely, or at least, cut the distance that the latter creates.
Alright, Mayweather is a defensive boxer, and his shoulder roll gave made it hard for Pacquiao to adjust. That is, aside from the unethical yet legal tactics that Mayweather did in the fight (hugging/ clinching).
It is also true that Mayweather really moved away, or ran as if the Filipino fighter had a deadly disease. But that is what he wanted to do: that is his strategy –– to run from Pacquiao’s punches which can damage him. That is a hidden respect for the punching power that the Filipino boxer possesses.
It is important to note though that what Mayweather did was not just to move away: the evasion was his way of setting up his right hand. And when Pacquiao lunges forward to hit Mayweather with his trademark left, it would be easy for the latter to counter with a right hook or a right straight. Even Compubox stats say that Mayweather threw and landed more punches than Pacquiao.
Even before the fight, it was clear that Mayweather had the psychological edge over Pacquiao. Roach and the rest of the team would always say that they are not intimidated by the taunts and demands of Mayweather, but they were. Never mind if Mayweather played dirty, if referee Kenny Bayless did not officiated the bout properly, or if the judges scored the bout absurdly.
Manny Pacquiao played the fight that Floyd Mayweather wants. Though both fighters possess quick hand speed and excellent footwork, the pace of the fight was slow, which benefits the counter-punching game plan of Mayweather. It was a “come in, I’ll dodge and hit you right away” night for the American boxer.
Pacquiao and his fellow Filipinos lamented that you cannot catch and hit a moving target. But how big is a side of the boxing ring? 23 feet? In that bout, how many times was Mayweather caught in the ropes and in the corner?
The true problem is that Pacquiao did not catch Mayweather. Remember what Joe Louis said? You can run but you cannot hide.
Again, Pacquiao lost, and it is his own doing. He cannot put his right jab forward to set his left hook because of the recurring injury. By the time that he realized that he can use the right hand to feint and launch the left, Mayweather was well ahead in the scorecards.
But not just this fight: Pacquiao lost bouts since the day he made a movie, since the day he took his oath of office, since the day he immersed himself in a deeper brand of faith. Again, not that being faithful is bad, because faith transcends through sports. The NBA’s Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry, and Taiwanese-American Harvard standout Jeremy Lin, are devout Christians. Footballer Tim Tebow is another example. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA all-time leader in points, is an outspoken Muslim.
But not in a brutal sport like boxing, which will contradict all the things that he preaches. How would Pacquiao punch and pummel his opponent when he says, love your enemy? How can Pacquiao get mad at Mayweather’s spy who revealed that he had a shoulder injury, when he remembers that he has to forgive as the heavenly Father does?
It seems that Pacquiao is dazed and out of focus. The Manila Times columnist Katrina Stuart-Santiago could have not said it any better: Pacquiao fell into the “celebrity trap” that almost every famous personality in the Philippines falls into, even if they do not have the penchant for acting. Remember Anak ng Kumander? That was the start of his years-long confusion.
“He started being endorser for every product imaginable, from milk to a beauty clinic, from deodorant to car batteries, from sportswear to pizza. He did a TV show and a movie, got to record a CD, got embroiled in a tabloid controversy about an extra-marital affair,” Santiago said in her column entitled Beyond Boxing, which came out in the last Sunday’s edition of the Times.
But Santiago also noted that Pacquiao’s status as an icon was not shaped by him alone, but by his closest friends, business partners, and the media.
“There is a sense that he’s actually been ill-advised all this time, maybe taken advantage of too, by the people around him,” Santiago said.
“The media is also to blame. There is no sense of objectivity when Pacquiao is the subject of their story: they paint Pacquiao as someone who can do no wrong because he is reason for Pinoy pride.”
It is an easy means of advertising. By holding on to the boxing shorts of Pacquiao, these people, politicians, products, movies, TV shows, and eventually, the giant networks themselves, gain unrivalled popularity and profit. Much like a like a parasitic relationship, where the flea feeds on the blood of animals to live. The difference is, these fleas can ditch Pacquiao anytime they feel that the boxer’s status is not bankable anymore.
So, what should Pacquiao do? First and foremost, he should not run for public office if he only intends to skip a huge chunk of the sessions to train for fights. Yes, there are athletes who eventually became lawmakers –– former PBA players Freddie Webb and Robert Jaworski, to name a few –– but their careers did not interfere with public service because they ran after their retirement from basketball.
Well, maybe he can use this break due to a torn rotator cuff to assess what he really wants to do. If he still wants to be a boxer, he should start accepting that too much entertainment would keep him from having a top-notch form. He should contemplate whether he should continue playing and coaching for the Kia Carnivals, because playing competitive basketball maybe a contributing factor to why that rotator cuff was ruptured.
Why not use the extra time for singing and acting for training, if he wants to remain at the top of the totem pole? Why not use the money that he has to bankroll the team, instead of making a fun of himself because with all honesty, he does not even know how to set a basketball play! He has to accept that he is just an ordinary man, like anyone else. He cannot play god and do everything at once.
More importantly, Pacquiao has to keep in mind that punching and preaching does not mix. Other local boxing analysts such as Atty. Ed Tolentino have observed that after having a renewed faith, Pacquiao had a tendency to pity his opponents. Even Roach has noticed before that while the boxer’s beliefs would benefit him in the long run, the change in lifestyle has implicated his boxing career.
“He had a lot of bad habits and he had a lot of good habits,” Roach said in an interview with FightHype, a few months before the bout with Mayweather. “At one point maybe he gambled too much… he drank a little too much. He definitely chased girls a little bit too much. Maybe his testosterone level is lower also, that might be taking away from his killer instinct.”
Once again, Pacquiao lost, and if ever he loses in the future, it is his own doing. He has to know that he cannot go into a fight listening to Gospel songs: it has to be the Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, otherwise, he is bound to lose. Boxers fight to decimate their opponents, not bless them, teach good things, or pity them because they are getting out-boxed. This is a sport where the stronger person emerges as the winner, and the weaker, the loser –– which is the same survival of the fittest thinking that was rejected by Jesus Christ himself.