Not until 2022 will Pacquiao retire
In November last year, before his fight against Jessie Vargas for the world’s welterweight title, Manny Pacquiao bragged that he would go down in history as the only incumbent senator of any country to win a world title in any sport. After he won, I wrote on this page that he would most probably be the only senator ever to have that distinction. Not because no incumbent senator anywhere is athletic enough to win a sports title, but because no member of what is generally referred to as the august body will disrobe down to his shorts to engage in a fist fight for prize money. The piece was titled “What a shame.”
Now it can be said that the Honorable Emmanuel Pacquiao is the only senator in history to be bloodied and beaten in a fist fight for prize money by a former high school relief teacher nine years his junior. What an ignominy!
Boxing pundits say the less experienced and less skillful Jeff Horn beat the People’s Champ by resorting to all the dirty tactics known in boxing. But Manny’s vaunted speed, strength, and extensive and varied experience in the ring should have been more than enough to overcome all the skullduggery to which a boxer who joined the ranks of professional boxers only four years ago and who fought mostly fellow Queenslanders can resort.
Freddie Roach said Manny’s being both a senator and a fighter is just maybe too much: “We didn’t have enough time in training camp,” the Boxing Hall of Famer intimated. Bob Arum believes Manny has been stretching his schedule too much: “I think you cannot spend so much time as a senator and expect to be a world-class fighter,” said the promoter of many of his fights.
Manny has been juggling his duties as a senator and as a prizefighter, attending Senate sessions and committee meetings during the day then rushing off to work out in the Elorde Gym in the evening. He even joined the basketball team Mahindra Floodbusters in their last game before flying to Brisbane.
After beating Vargas last November, Manny told the Inquirer: “I want to be a good example to people who love sports. The way you work in this profession [sets] an example to the young generation aiming to become champion.” He goes through a punishing regimen of strength building and skill polishing to prepare for a fight.
His loss to Horn set a good example to the youth who aspire to be champion in the sport of their choice. The aspirant must be completely focused on one goal. He wants to be a basketball legend, recording artist, military commander, and most of all, president of the country.
Manny was supposed to have retired from boxing after beating Timothy Bradley to focus on his duties as a member of Congress. But he resumed his boxing career because, according to him, boxing is his passion. American boxing analyst Sam Cooper hinted that Manny was instead lured back to the ring by the fat paycheck.
Considering how easily he squanders his winnings, he needs to replenish his cash fund regularly. The Inquirer editorial last Wednesday said: “When Sen. Manny Pacquiao can step out of a defeat practically unscathed with a cool P500 million stuffed in his three-piece suit, our clamor for his retirement is a whisper in a raging chorus of cash registers ringing.”
But money is not Manny’s ultimate objective; it is the means to it just as his pro basketball, show business, military, and political forays are. The same Inquirer editorial asked rhetorically: “These piling losses diminish his legend?”
No, losses will not diminish his legend, but retirement from boxing will diminish his following. Note how rabid his idolaters bashed Horn, the referee, and the judges. To his large following, Manny Pacquiao is invincible — and omniscient. That is why they voted him senator. To his followers, he knows all about legislation and everything else.
He planned to run for vice president in 2010, confident his hordes of screaming fans would vote for him as he was then at the top of the boxing world. But he was way below the age to be qualified for the position. He will continue to fight to keep his millions of rabid fans until 2022, when he will be eligible to run for president.
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Oscar P. Lagman Jr. has been a keen observer of Philippine politics since the 1950s.
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