Thursday, September 20, 2018
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Broken-hearted fan says: Retire, Manny

Dear Manny,

My congratulatory letter to you started to form in my head as soon the announcement of the date of the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight reverberated around the world in January. Today, I find it difficult to retrieve the unfinished letter—all those words lost somewhere in time and, unfortunately, even if recovered, are now meaningless.

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I will never stop thanking you for the unforgettable memories of your past battles. Single-handedly, you fired up a nation’s collective spirit, revived the faith that we all should have in the nobility of hard work and the simple life, and made us remember and stand proud that we still have in us, flowing through our veins, the blood and bravery of our fearless warrior-ancestors.

Having said that, I urge you now to retire.

It is not so much the losing as the manner that you lost the fight to Floyd that I feel compelled, notwithstanding my devotion to you, to say that we have to face up to reality now, painful though it is. It’s the kind of reality that’s no-holds-barred, in-your-face and very matter-of-fact in its pointed sincerity when reminding us that all good things must come to an end.

You said you did your best and believe me, I would love to take your word for it. But at the same time, we may very well need to redefine what your best is and what it has become.

The best of Manny Pacquiao is courage beyond your little mortal Filipino frame, no matter if dwarfed by the enormous shadow of the opponent and the odds you were facing.

The best of Manny Pacquiao is the totality of punches to the face that you willingly and defiantly absorbed for the chance to deliver one punch of your own that would turn the tide and salvage victory from the clutches of almost certain defeat, the way that you have done in the past.

I would say the best of Manny Pacquiao should even include the image of you face-down on the canvas, flattened by a haymaker of a Mexican punch from Juan Manuel Marquez but faithfully true to your promise to go to war until the last bullet is spent, until the last glimmer of consciousness flickers and fades into the night.

I’m not alone in saying this. I truly feel that there are many of us who find it difficult to reconcile the idea of this warrior-hero’s best with watching him walk away from the most important fight of his life with nary a dent on the face. Maybe we have all turned blood-thirsty in the face of great expectations, but Manny, this is just in keeping with the way that we have known you for years, the way that you’ve been to us from the start, the reason that made you a special kind of fighter.

The poor boy who fought for a few pesos to buy rice was destined to be great. We believed that. And yes, we gladly went along and bet our own happiness on that beautiful story line, anticipating no less than a storybook ending that surely our children and grandchildren will hear from us time and time again without pause and without fail when this generation turns old and gray.

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Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

And so I must say with a heavy heart that disappointment is an understatement. The feeling of being cheated more aptly describes our collective pain. We knew all along that Floyd was only after the money; at least he was honest enough to say from the beginning that the feelings of ordinary fans mean little to him for as long as he gets paid.

So when the “Fight of the Century” was reduced to a waltz instead of a real fight over 12 awfully uneventful rounds, the way the unbeaten American welterweight had exactly envisioned it to be, well… Listen, Manny, I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but Floyd made you an accomplice to this grand larceny of a boxing version of the Superbowl. You went along with his plan. Floyd won not so much for what he did as for what Manny failed to do.

It was both sad and painful: to be desperately searching for the old fire and looking for the old Manny to come forward, only to realize that he is gone forever, and will not be coming back.

The Pacquiao-Mayweather fight will go down in history as the greatest fight that never was, a fight that shortchanged the fans instead of elevating the sport of boxing. I hate to say this, but you were part of the reason for this ignominy of a sporting event. You went along with it.

Retire, Manny. Don’t be tempted by another windfall from a rematch because that fight would most probably be even worse highway robbery. And I don’t think your legacy will come out unsullied if a rematch takes place and goes the same route, assuming the first fight had not actually produced that sort of repercussion.

When you walk away, try to get rid of all the excess baggage in the form of freeloaders and hangers-on hovering like flies around you. You’d be better off and in good hands with only the company of real friends to go with you into your next journey. And please consider walking away from politics, too. If this fight were to haunt you, and I’m quite sure it will, you may learn the hard way that in politics, as in boxing, you can’t win them all and there are times when you can’t even win the fight that really counts.

Enjoy your wealth, Manny. You earned it. But hold on to your money wisely or it might be the first to disappear when your fame starts to fade.

The choice is yours. You can just go ahead and ignore this stupid broken-hearted fan. But I also want you to know that beginning today, I am also officially retiring as your fan and a fan of the sport of boxing in general.

With my love and respect.

Adel Abillar is a private law practitioner with a small office in Quezon City where, he says, “I alternate between being boss and messenger.” He obtained his law and prelaw degrees from Manuel L. Quezon University and the University of Santo Tomas, respectively.

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TAGS: Boxing, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, retirement
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