Pacquiao in a bind
Last week in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather did for 12 rounds what he had been doing for five years—run away from Manny Pacquiao—turning the promised “Fight of the Century” into the “Sleeper of the Year.” Failing miserably to land the big punch as he chased the slippery Mayweather around the ring, Pacquiao didn’t do much to earn a victory either.
At the end of what Mayweather promised to be “the biggest event in the history of boxing,” neither fighter was marked. No knockdowns, no bruises, no scratches, no blood. No punch to justify the hype. The fight was neither a glorious milestone for boxing nor a defining moment for either prize fighter.
But the drama and fireworks that were missing in the ring at the jampacked MGM Grand Garden Arena were in full display not long after the bell mercifully signaled the end of the tedious cat-and-mouse chase. Where the prefight hype ended, the postfight brouhaha took over. Talk of Pacquiao’s injury and subsequent surgery, his handlers’ tussle with the Nevada boxing authorities, the allegations of espionage and grand conspiracy to defeat him, and million-dollar lawsuits filled the dead air in the aftermath of the fight. The Pacquiao-Mayweather circus lingers.
In the eye of the raging storm is the Philippines’ “National Fist,” with lawsuits and possible investigations hounding him. He is now in a bind, thanks largely to the people he trusts most with his boxing career.
First, there is the matter of the painkillers, which can only mask the pain while the injury festers. Pacquiao had Mayweather cornered in the fourth round when, according to him, he suddenly felt the pain and had to back off. While that shot of pain allowed Mayweather to slip through his opponent’s hands, it probably saved Pacquiao from a more serious injury. Dr. Rafael Castillo, medical columnist of the Inquirer, writes that the painkiller Toradol, a shot of which the Nevada State Athletic Commission refused Pacquiao, would have given the fighter a false sense of assurance that he was injury-free. Worse, he would have been at the mercy of Mayweather had he suffered any of the side effects of the drug, which, according to Castillo, include dizziness, drowsiness, and severe nausea. Either way, he was in for a physical disaster far worse than the bruised ego he suffered in Mayweather’s hands.
Trainer Freddie Roach should have known better than to send his prized ward to the ring against Mayweather in that condition. Then there’s Bob Arum, described by Sports Illustrated writer Mark Kram in 1975 as “the most resilient of the night creatures” otherwise known as the promoters. It was Arum who revealed the injury in the postfight press conference, presenting an excuse for Pacquiao’s defeat when the fighter himself offered none. And it was Michael Koncz, who acts as Pacquiao’s business manager, who certified that he was suffering no shoulder injury—an “oversight” that spurred a series of lawsuits by irate fans who lost big on the Filipino champ.
That they allowed Pacquiao to fight with the injury, with or without the painkiller, indicates that their main concern was that the megabuck fight must go on.
Pacquiao has surrounded himself with similar creatures. Promoters, business managers, business partners, training partners, security men, spiritual advisers, relatives and buddies, and plain hangers-on and freeloaders. Some are well-meaning, but most stick to the champ like leeches, helping themselves to whatever they can get out of the man’s innate generosity, soft heart and plain naiveté.
So what’s next for Pacquiao?
His defeat, his and Mayweather’s failure to live up to the hype, combined with the shoulder injury and surgery and the lack of a viable match on the horizon, have dimmed Pacquiao’s future as a boxer. The calls for him to hang up his gloves and retire have never rung as loudly as now.
A rematch with Mayweather may sound financially promising, but the brash American speaks with a forked tongue, hailing Pacquiao as “a helluva fighter and a great champion” one day and calling him “a sore loser and a coward” the next. The proposed rematch may have to wait another five years, and would anyone still care by then?
But then again, the P.T. Barnum in Bob Arum may find a way to hype up another scam of the century, if not with Mayweather then with someone else. And the boxing fans, as gullible as most of them are, may again be suckered into paying for it.
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