He wears an uneasy crown, as the darling of the fighting world.
The odyssey of foibles and fallability starts from the time they were lightweights, who labored in the anonymity of boxing vineyards — from the greatest names in the pugilistic arena, to backyards of fighters, who once were light as a cucumber in their salad years, to old ages’ credential couriers.
Sports writers’ eyewitness accounts remain quick, subjective and sometimes incomplete, since they are written on the spot — in the heat of the moment, reflecting the rush and compression and the ignorance of what is going to happen next, in the blink of an eye.
Who can forget a night in December in the MGM Grand Arena, when even the most hard-beating boxing fans had to have a fleeting moment of dread? Something really tragic happened as Pacquiao fell flat on his face, out cold in the corner of that boxing ring.
It was a shocking thing, that knockout. It was short, sharp, merciless and complete.
Marquez hit Pacquiao with a whistling righthand punch, with the awe-provoking right hand making a crunching sound when it hit Pacman’s jaw.
It was the cruelest of defeat because he was on the verge of knocking down Marquez, but ran smack into his right hand instead.
For almost over a minute, Pacman remained still — bereft of his senses, amid the swirling chaos inside the ring.
He fell down hurt, flat on his face. He was out, in a soggy mess, his fingers touching the canvass, as pandemonioum broke in and by the ring side.
Marquez is a big lean warrior, tightened and re-tightened through months of training until he was a pregnant package of coiled venom and dynamite.
He stood looking down at his fallen foe. Then, magnanimous in victory, he quietly walked away amid a roaring crowd.
This defeat would hound Pacman. He was taunted, teased and received torrents of abuse, not only in the immediate aftermath of the fight but in all the days and weeks that followed his unmeasured humiliation.
On a recent Thursday, the Pacquiao-Rios grueling media tour came to an end at the Beverly Hills Hotel. We all know that after this presscon, we won’t be seeing Pacquiao for a while here in America.
Our one-on-one, started on a softball interview, with worshipping questions that gushed familiar with my angles. We thought and imagined that he was suppressing a smile.
He is not done yet. He backed away from a chance to return in April, having lost from two previous fights. He said: “I do not regret anything over the Marquez fight. It just happened that he got me, I have confidence in my ability, if you look back at my last fight, my condition was aggressive, my killer instinct [was] still there.”
The brawl in Macau will be coming off the longest lay off of his incredible career, when he steps back at the square jingle.
On our questions about his two losses in a row, he replied: “Kasama yoon sa boxing (that is as much part of boxing), we just have to learn how to deal with losing. When you fight hard and give all you can, even though parati ka panalo, you occasionally lose…once in a while you might lose violently. You know, that is boxing. Just because something bad happened, you don’t stop. I’ve been knocked out before, matagal na yoon, (that was a long time ago). I came back and won a lot of fights. Now it has happened again. I’ve learned there’s nothing wrong in losing, tatayo ka at lalaban ka uli (you’ll get up and fight again).
I asked: “Sir, you mean BUKBUKAN po uli? (Pacquiao’s term for “bakbakan”) Sir you’re aware of your significance, not only to the country and to the sport.”
“I take it seriously,” he responded.
“Sir, one political question. Can you tell us your thinking on the latest issue about the pork barrel scam? (I literally groped for subtle words to use).
“You have to put your constituents first. Trust is earned, respect is given, their loyalty demonstrated. You just have to do, think of the right decisions. There should be respect and dignity in everything you do. Kaya ka nga binoto,” he said.
As usual, it was the only interview allowed to a print media outlet, with every handler breathing down one’s neck, forever signaling “last question.”
We were only allowed three questions, which, of course, we totally ignored.
Without a cameraman, I doubt if they would have considered my lining up for forty minutes to do the one-on-one.
We already know that politics is the Congressman boxer’s second act. Could it be a strategy born of a deeper survival instinct, from knowing the limitation of a boxer’s life, particulary after the fighting is done?
Snobbery is the unvoiced rationale behind some of the opposition to Pacquiao’s deeper political ambition.
His English is heavily accented. He is more comfortable speaking our national language, but he is a hit with any audience anywhere.
All he really has to do is grin and they are all in his hands.
He continues to be a role model for his countrymen. In spite of his two terms as a congressman, they don’t want him to dirty himself and open him to charges of corruption, which is exactly what’s happening back home. There’s a lot of trouble in politics.
The question is: can the Congressman Boxer continue to be the most loved man in our country, when he quits the ring for the deeper cockpit of politics?
It will be the fight of his life!