Weighing Manny’s greatness as a boxer against his politics
Manny Pacquiao, the eight-division world champion, indeed looked like his old self in dominating the WBA welterweight title bout against Adrien Broner on Jan. 20. There is no denying that he still has the speed and power at the age of 40. I’m even beginning to think it would actually be a great idea to make a Pacquiao-Mayweather rematch happen.
But while Filipinos celebrate another victory for the country, I found myself weighing Pacquiao’s greatness as a boxer over his political convictions. Is the “Fighting Senator” really a “People’s Champ” when it comes to fighting for the rights of the people?
I remember Conrado de Quiros, who compared Pacquiao to Muhammad Ali 10 years ago in his column “There’s The Rub.” According to De Quiros: “Ali’s greatest fight was with the US government. A government that wanted him to fight people who never did him any harm, who were the Vietnamese… Ali was fighting tyranny. And he was fighting not just for personal glory but for the hopes of a people longing to be free… Ali fought a battle for something larger than boxing.” Something to which Pacquiao hasn’t quite come near, despite his dazzling achievements.
Unlike Ali, Pacquiao is an apologist rather than a critic of the Duterte administration—from the brutal drug war to the President’s verbal attacks against the Catholic Church. True, he had expressed solidarity with the marginalized sectors at some point in his career, but his conformist stance toward the regime does not do them any good, when he could have opposed the government’s anti-people policies.
Instead of embracing patronage politics, Senator Pacquiao could use his popularity to stir the conscience of Filipinos longing for real change by showing them that he is not only a fearless boxer, but is also capable of defending the people’s rights—the greatest fight he would’ve ever fought.
DANIEL ALOC, [email protected]
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