THERE ARE a lot of weeping and hand-wringing and excuses in the Philippines over the loss of Manny Pacquiao to Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez via a 6th-round knockout last Sunday. The excuses range from the religious (it’s because Manny changed his religion, didn’t wear a rosary around his neck and didn’t pray in his corner before the fight), to the speculative (Marquez used performance-enhancing drugs as evidenced by his bigger muscles) to luck (it was a lucky punch), etc., etc.
But let’s face it—it was not a controversial decision but a very convincing loss. No amount of excuses can change the fact that Pacquiao finally met his match. Pacquiao, the pride of the Philippines, was not only knocked out, he was knocked out cold, far out in dreamland for more than one minute. He didn’t even know what happened. When he regained consciousness, he asked his friend and assistant trainer: “Anong nangyari? Tapos na ba ang boxing?”(What happened? Is the fight over?)
It was not a lucky punch. Marquez, who had studied Pacquiao’s fighting style, suckered him into thinking that he, Marquez, was on the verge of being knocked out. Instead, it was Pacquiao who was knocked out.
Manny was overconfident as he chased Marquez all over the ring. Thinking that the latter was groggy, Manny went at him hammer and thongs to knock him out. In his eagerness, Manny became careless. When he trapped Marquez in a corner, he threw a left jab in preparation for a right cross. But as he jabbed, Marquez, a known counter-puncher, unleashed his right haymaker. And WHAM! Manny was out on his feet and fell like a log. He was in dreamland before he even hit the canvas.
In other words, Pacquiao got what was coming to him, in more ways than one. All boxers lose, sooner or later. You cannot win them all; its always “win some, lose some.” Age inexorably catches up with everyone. Even the greatest heavyweight boxing champions Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali eventually succumbed to age. Manny is now 34 years old, aged by boxing standards. Most boxers retire by that age. Those who don’t are eventually beaten.
Because of the shocking knockout, there are calls for Manny to retire now, before his brain is damaged by more blows to the head. But obviously, Manny’s pride discourages him from retiring now, especially after such a devastating loss. He wants to retire as a winner.
And of course, there is greed. Manny and his handlers are thinking of the millions of dollars they would lose if he hangs his gloves now. (Manny’s take in his last fight is estimated to be between $25 million to $30 million.) Manny is so wealthy now that he can live comfortably until the end of his days on what he has earned so far from boxing and sponsorships, provided he does not squander them on gambling. But there is that greed in almost all humans. There is always that greed to stay on “for a few dollars more.” The Tagalog have a term for it: “Walang sawa” or “Hindi marunong magsawa.” In English: “Does not know when enough is enough.”
Muhammad Ali wanted to earn a few dollars more. Look at him now, suffering from Parkinson’s disease because he received blows to the head one too many. Joe Louis had to make a comeback in the ring to earn dollars to pay back taxes to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He lost. Manny has enough money to pay his back taxes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). He can afford to pay it now, but he does not want to. After Marquez knocked him out with one punch, a wag commented: “Obviously Manny has learned how to evade taxes but not how to evade punches.”
Besides, let’s admit it: Manny has become soft. He has many other things in his mind besides boxing. He is into politics (he is the sitting congressman of the lone district of Sarangani and is starting a political dynasty of his own by making his wife Jinkee run for vice governor next year), in show biz (he has his own television show, has appeared in movies, likes to sing at parties), and in religion (he is active as a born-again Christian, something that his mother laments); and he has his own basketball team, fields his own fighting cocks in cockpits, and is rumored to frequent casinos although he says he has abandoned his vices. In other words, he has spread himself too thin. He is no longer concentrated on boxing, which has made him very rich.
For his last bout, Manny trained only two months, while Marquez trained for four months.
And let’s admit further: Manny likes the limelight. Fame and fortune have gone to his head. Like all noveau riche, he flaunts his wealth. He has a Porsche sports car, a Mercedes Benz sedan and other expensive vehicles. It is rumored that he has bought a yacht and a helicopter. He has built several mansions in the Philippines and reportedly owns one in the United States. In short, all signs of conspicuous consumption. He wants to show people how rich he is.
Even his lifestyle has changed. He now sports white three-piece suits; it is rumored that he and his wife are regular patrons of plastic surgeons and beauty salons, his wife sports designer jewelry, designer bags, clothes and shoes. Even his mother Mommy Dionisia is bedecked with bling bling, lives in a mansion of her own, and spends her time dancing with dancing instructors. It’s none of our business, of course, but we have seen it all before in many movies about boxing greats. With fame and fortune come the excesses and, after them, the downfall.
We do not want that to happen to Manny. He is the greatest boxing hero the Philippines has ever produced, better known than other Filipino boxing greats like Pancho Villa, Ceferino Garcia and Flash Elorde. He should retire now while he is in good health. Like one should quit smoking, he should quit boxing now before it is too late.