By Ludwig O. Daza
The decision Manny Pacquiao officially made to hang his gloves up is not so much about his desire as about his family’s concern and politics. Time will prove that his own desire to continue fighting and the adulation of his countrymen will be too strong to resist, and that his family’s concern should be relegated to the sideways for the time being – while his body is still able to respond to the rigors of training.
I believe what his election lawyer, Romulo Makalintal said, “that he is still good for two more fights.” The losses suffered in the hands of Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez are not the kind that can make a fighter say “I’ve had enough of this, time is up”. I wagered a considerable amount of money on Mayweather in his fight against Manny and I thought I lost it. To my chagrin, Mayweather got the nod of the judges. I was richer though by several thousand pesos. As for Marquez, some guys have all the luck some of the time.
If only Pacquiao’s shoulder held up. If only carelessness and luck did not occur at the same time in a split second. What could have been? These are the thoughts that still haunt Manny. He could have emerged victorious in those fights. And these thoughts gnaw at him every time the words retirement and washed up are brought up.
Surely in his trilogy with Tim Bradley, these words do not aptly describe Manny whose cat-quick reflexes and power still discombobulates Bradley even though it’s already the third fight. “Manny held back a bit” said trainer Freddie Roach. Of course Manny doesn’t want a loss in his supposed last fight – the Marquez spectre is a constant reminder that unless he is careful, another fighter might get lucky also.
Manny never held back though against Mayweather. With steady stream of punches, he brought the fight to Mayweather. If Manny was slowed by shoulder injury, it did not show. I was downtrodden, I thought, I was several thousand pesos poorer, but at the same time was elated that Manny performed well enough to win via split-decision. As history would have it, I turned out richer by several thousand pesos – downtrodden just the same.
A dichotomy of traits resides in Pacquiao’s larger than life persona. Humility seemed to have conspired with a huge desire to be admired in order to facilitate his genuine longing to help the poor and reconnect with his humble past – the reason in seeking a higher political office. But if he truly is retired and that politics has taken over him, I personally don’t think he has the wherewithal to endure the slime and grime of politics.
His foray into a higher political office will expose his shortcomings. A slip of tongue can get him into trouble again, and sooner or later his iconic persona will take a hit, making him realize that national politics, especially the national legislature, is not for him. While the executive branch of the government may suit his style, the legislature requires cerebral and thoughtful form of work.
Don’t get me wrong. Pacquiao possesses the rudimentary requirements of a good leader: Common sense and Courage. But the inner workings and wrangling in a national legislative body, where quid pro quo is the order of the day, will overwhelm Manny that the call of the wild and his warrior spirit will take over because it is his nature. In the olden times, he is a gladiator, not a roman senator.
“It’s hard to totally disengage from an activity you’ve been so good in doing when you know you’re still good at it.”
If successful in his senatorial bid, his lackluster performance as congressman is a good index of the quality of his senate tenure. He is known more for his absences than anything else, proof that legislative chores bore him to death.
The familiar sights and sounds during training such as the pounding of the mitts, the coterie of hangers-on doing their own little way of pleasing Manny, and the early morning jog and the adoring fans joining the run are just a few of the myriad things leading to a fight that Manny will long to experience again while daydreaming in the middle of senate sessions.
Only a fight with Mayweather can lure him out of retirement. But a tune-up match with young and dangerous Terrence Crawford is an excellent appetizer for the main course.
A fight with an up and coming unbeaten star like Crawford will generate more excitement than Amir Khan or Canelo Alvarez, and a win against whom lends credence to Manny’s fitness to take on any opposition despite claims of deterioration in skills, boosting his confidence in the process in preparation for his second lucrative fight with Mayweather.
Crawford is no patsy. A win against him by Pacquiao is a good argument to claims that he is already past his prime. While Crawford has speed and power, he will be moving up in weight against Pacquiao. It is doubtful if his power can scale up, and Crawford’s talent pale in comparison with that of Pacquiao’s erstwhile opponents: Mayweather and Bradley – fighters whose stature in boxing history Crawford can only try to emulate.
But this is a fight that fans would want to see not so much for Crawford’s fighting chance as for the novelty that the fight can offer.