Thursday, January 22, 2009

Manny Pacquiao: Fourteen Years of Boxing

Manny Pacquiao - the Destroyer from the Philippines - debuted as a boxing professional this day fourteen years ago (January 22, 1995) in Mindoro Occidental, Philippines. He reportedly won his first fight on points against a certain Edmund "Enting" Ignacio. Manny scored his first knock out (Round 2) against Dele Decierto seven months later. Manny Pacquiao made a name for himself in the local scene by stringing up several knockout victories. His reputation grew and as a testament, his fights are filled with people despite the fact local professional boxing was and is still not big here.

Who would have thought that the local knock out artist would later become The King of Boxing and the Best Pound for Pound Warrior in the World? Nobody did. The country has produced several great boxers including PANCHO VILLA - the Greatest Flyweight of the Century, and Gabriel "Flash" Elorde - the Greatest Asian Boxer of all time. Now in my life time, I was fortunate to witness another great. Manny Pacquiao won five titles in five weight divisions. He jumped up two weight classes and fought a BIG BULLY. The BULLY thought he was easy picking. For eight rounds, Manny "smoked" the BULLY into submission. It was not just any BULLY. Months before 99% of Boxing pundits predicted Manny would lose. But Manny Pacquiao shocked the world. Not since Henry Armstrong was another Boxer winning three weight divisions in one year. Manny Pacquiao was then showered with flattery by those posers however the reality says HE IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD, right now. Pacquiao exposed many boxing experts as rubbish. Their BANDWAGON ANALYSIS was incorrect.

To his credit though, Manny Pacquiao doesn't care about the Pound for Pound Titles and other shenanigans hot-air filled experts come up with. He only wants to please the Filipino people - and shows it in the ring. I can't recall a single Manny Pacquiao fight that was boring. His devotion to his country was deciphered by many as sincere so his following became large and devoted - they became known as PACFANS. To take advantage of his following, notorious sports sites flame the place where Pacquiao fans congregate - Pacland in an effort to get thousands of hits in five minutes. It worked initially but after that PACFANS learn to avoid glorified bloggers - and there's no turning back. Good sites know not to overdo it. Nah...just like any successful person Manny Pacquiao has his share of critics but he and I don't care.

There is a possibility 2009 will be Manny Pacquiao's last year in boxing. Yes, I think Manny will retire only after beating the best there is available and as long as they give him due respect. After fourteen years of boxing, the toll on Manny's body must be severe and if he calls it quits fine by me. Manny Pacquiao is the greatest sporting hero I've seen in my lifetime. I've never seen a Filipino athlete winning consistency and thrives on pressure. Manny does that. Even the great Efren "Bata" Reyes of billiards has collapsed on clutch moments. Manny also wins regularly and dislikes losing unlike other athletes here. His belief in himself is extraordinary and his confidence supreme. He fights to win - and that's what I admire in him.

Yes, Manny Pacquiao has his misgivings too but mostly it is outside the ring as far as I'm concerned. I really don't want him to enter politics. Contrary to popular propaganda, Manny Pacquiao will not win if he runs for the Presidency. He will not. The Filipino people are smart. Other fans prefer Pacquiao to concentrate on developing and promoting boxing prospects - after all he opened the gate for them. He might as well keep it open by developing fighters to follow his foot steps. I think it is a better legacy - but that's his choice and I respect that. I think he will run for political office and at the same time promote other fighters.

In his latest squabble, Manny proved he is tough outside the ring as well. He was pressured by many to sign that insulting contract. Manny Pacquiao instead played hardball and the other camp realized he is serious - they blinked. But their concession isn't big enough - He dumped the fight. His actions earned the respect of knowledgeable boxing writers. He is his own man. Manny Pacquiao knows what's best for him. He decides what happens next - not his father or promoter. Pacman worked hard to get to the top and he has no time to deal with squirts. He knows his value and he will not be shortchanged.


From initial 50 - 50 offer, Manny's opponent blinked and gave in to 52 -48. The final offer was reportedly 52 - 48 in favor of the Filipino plus 12 million dollars guaranteed prize money. Not bad.

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