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Monday, July 3, 2017

THE REMARKABLE LIFE OF MANNY PACQUIAO

Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, more popularly known as Manny, a world-class boxer who also has a day job, one of the 24 Senators in the Philippines Congress, lost to Australian Jeff Horn in Brisbane this past weekend.  Manny himself was gracious in his defeat, but I saw the whole fight and I was shocked at the announcement, what I would label as just another one of those  homer decisions so prevalent to this sport.  Pacquiao landed 182 punches to 92.  I mean, what more can I say?  I thought he had easily outpointed his younger adversary:


This bout culminated the return of ESPN to world championship boxing.  Sure, they have had Friday Night Fights, but, over the past decade and longer, all the major boxing events have been on pay-per-view, where the cost usually ranges from $50-$100.  Manny wanted this one to be free to the viewing public, and ESPN will now continue to carry championship events into the future.

There was a time in my life when I actually went to boxing matches.  I grew up in Kakaako, a block away from the leading boxing gym in the state.  One of my recurring nightmares is sitting in the ring corner, awaiting my doom at the hands of some terrible beast across me.  Thankfully the fight never starts, but the fear is palpable.

So back to Brisbane, the whole production was classy.  There were four fights in this entertaining marathon from 2PM to 6:30PM:  American Shane Mosley Jr (son of Sugar) vs undefeated Australian David Toussaint (who won), Irish Michael Conlan (he won) vs Australian Jarrett Owen and a second championship battle featuring:


Anacajas from the Philippines retained his Junior Bantamweight title over Teiru Kinoshita of Japan.

Filipino Broadway actress Christine Allado (from Hamilton) sang the Philippines national anthem.


That's her in the middle, and the other girls trot inside the ring holding the number card between rounds.  Michael Buffer, of course, had to be on hand:


Suncorp Stadium drew a crowd of more than 50,000.  I felt like I was almost there, for it was this past August that I attended the University of Hawaii - University of California football game in Sydney, Australia.  Way back in 1989 I spent three wonderful days in Brisbane, surely among the most boring cities in the world.  But my adventure in Papua New Guinea leading to these three days were the most dangerous of my life.

This was the bloodiest boxing match I've ever watched.  So much so that I'll do you a great favor and not show you any photos.  Here is Horn after his win.  His right side, where the damage occurred, is mostly shielded.  He represented Australia at the 2012 Olympics and only reached the quarterfinals.  But he is undefeated as a pro, with one draw.

If Manny asks me, I'll urge him to retire.  Losing is no way to go, but he really won and doesn't need to redeem anything.  He is already considered to be one of the best boxers ever, for he has won titles in eight weight categories, from 112 to 154 pounds:


Does he have any future in the Senate?  Not really because he belongs to the United Nationalist Alliance, a party which only controls 4% of the votes in their Congress.  President?  Probably, for he has this ambition, and President Rodrigo Duterte, already 71, while popular, has a kill all criminals mentality, who earlier this year indicated that 40% of his police force themselves commit crimes.  Something will happen to him in the not too distant future.

Two years ago Manny helped broker peace between the government and a separatist group in the Philippines called the Moro Islamic Liberation front.  During the past half century 120,000 people have died from this violence.  Today, almost 100,000 still cannot go home.  During this period when he was set to fight Floyd Mayweather, the American boxer boasted of buying a $210,000 Mercedes and showed off his million dollar hats.

Pacquiao already manages the other countryman who won in Brisbane, Jerwin Ancajas, who retained his International Boxing Federation belt.  In the meantime, in addition to biding his time in Congress and continuing to bring peace within his country, he might establish his own political party and help provide funds to develop the first gold medal winner in the Summer Olympics.  As a start, he has said all Philippine gold medalists should get about a million dollars.  Next the presidency, then, perhaps Secretary-General of the United Nations.  Only 38, he has a bright future.

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