Twilight for Manny Pacquiao
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-12-11
All good things come to an end. It’s time for Manny Pacquiao to retire and enjoy the rest of the good health that he still has. That stunning loss to Juan Manuel “Juanma” Marquez last Sunday was no lucky punch. It was the period to a boxing statement that Marquez placed to a well-prepared fight plan.

It was only boxing analyst Ed Tolentino who captured the shape of things to come. Before the fight, Tolentino admitted having fears that Marquez would win the fourth fight with Pacquiao. Where our other, obviously biased, boxing analysts were predicting that Pacquiao would maul Juanma, as Marquez is fondly called, Ed Tolentino saw it the other way around ‑ correctly predicting the outcome.

Tolentino correctly pointed out that there’s no more eye of the tiger — popularized by Rocky Balboa — to be seen in Manny Pacquiao. Tolentino observed correctly that Pacquiao’s physical and mental preparedness for the fight were very much under question. Pacquiao was said to have lacked three weeks of training. Mentally, he has too many distractions — his congressional campaign, his love life, and his ‘mission’ from God, among them.

It surprised me that our boxing analysts covering the fight for the GMA Network totally missed the praiseworthy fight plan of Juanma. It was a different Juanma that fought Pacquiao last Sunday. Juanma wasn’t over engaged in head hunting, as he was inclined to do in their previous fights. Juanma was planting powerful blows to the body of Manny Pacquiao. Juan-ma’s first priority was to wear down Pacquiao with body blows and take him out when these had its effects on him.

If you were the Marquez camp and you’ve been getting reports that Pacquiao is under-trained and psychologically distracted, hard body blows would be your key to victory. Boxing analysts and commentators that are assigned to the TV coverage should put aside their biases in order for them to clearly see how that fight was won and lost. Marquez was throwing haymakers to Pacquiao’s body and none of the analysts in the TV coverage saw the fight strategy unfolding.

By the time the sixth round was fought, Pacquiao’s arms were showing signs of weariness. In boxing, when you’ve received too many body blows, those arms of yours would feel like a ton. It seemed that Manny Pacquiao was physically spent as early as the sixth round, which is why he was trying to end the fight with a knockout. If that fight went longer, expect Pacquiao to receive a worse mauling.

Give Pacquiao credit for giving his best and for still trying to win even when his fuel tank was running low. During the sixth round, Marquez likely felt that there was no sting left in Pacquiao’s punches. In the face of Pacquiao’s all-out attack, Marquez kept his poise and waited for the right moment when to unleash his killer right punch. Typical of the great events of history, no greater drama there could be than a knockout victory scored on the very last second of a round. Technically, it was considered a seventh round knockout.

Pacquiao fans would say: “All he had to do was finish the round. Why did he have to rush into that killer punch?” These are foolish notions. Pacquiao’s top priority at that moment was not to last the sixth round but to finish off Marquez. Knowing his body, Pacquiao must have sensed that it’ll be down hill for him from the seventh round onwards. Like other great warriors, in the face of impending defeat, Pacquiao threw all caution to the wind and still attempted to steal a victory. 

Despite the lure of more money, Pacquiao should now think about his duties to his family, his children especially, and hang up his gloves. He has nothing to be ashamed of. He lost to a boxing legend and fought a creditable fight. He cannot turn back the clock and hope that the physical prowess he had six years ago could be restored. To think so would be to invite serious injury.

Pacquiao should now stop listening to Bob Arum and listen to his mother. Mommy Dionisia only has the best interest of Pacquiao in mind while Bob Arum only has his business interest in mind. Bob Arum isn’t to be faulted for seeking to promote a Pacquiao-Marquez fifth fight. It’s his duty to his organization to put together moneymaking fights.

It would be a pity if Manny Pacquiao ended up like the late Heavyweight great Joe Louis who made a pile of money but died in poverty. Manny should realize that the gravy train’s tracks have ended. What he’s got is probably all the big bucks that he will earn for the rest of his life. It’s time for Manny to dismiss all those hangers-on that have been freeloading off him. Manny should post this sign: No more free food, free drinks and free loans here.

With his defeats, his popularity will start dropping, even among Filipinos. Manny cannot assume to have a long political career and live off it. People easily forget and get distracted.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” 

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