Notes & Essays

Manny Pacquiao Deserves Your Respect

No matter what happens in the ring tomorrow.
IMAGE Roy Macam
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Supporting Manny Pacquiao in his upcoming fight against Jeff Horn on Sunday can be seen as an act of patriotism, whether it's good or misplaced depends on which side of the fence you sit.

For the Pacman’s fanatics, it’s only natural for any proud Filipino to rally behind a national icon who has brought much honor to the country with his exploits inside the boxing ring.

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But it’s what he does out of the four corners of the ring that has Pacquiao’s critics (and those who just don’t give a care in the world about the boxer-turned-Senator) railing against the guy, particularly saying that a show of support for the World Boxing Organization welterweight champ only fuels the man’s supposedly misguided political ambition to be President of this republic one day.

As the scripture says, cast not thy pearls before swine–which is perhaps too harsh in this case.

Pacquiao, for all his faults, is without a doubt a sporting legend, one that’s arguably among the all-time greats in Philippine sports history.

Consider his accomplishments in the sport affectionately called the sweet science: the only eight-division boxing champion in history, that unmatchable stretch in 2008-2011 when he stunned the world in taking down some of the sport’s biggest names and putting the Philippines on the map. In that span, our small archipelago was beloved by the world as Pacquiao country.

All his feats have been laid to waste, at least for his critics, with his political foray, his controversial comments and the losses he suffered in the boxing ring.

But all those feats have been laid to waste, at least for his critics, thanks to his political foray, his controversial comments and the losses he suffered in the boxing ring, in particular the humiliating knockout to Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 and his disappointing defeat to rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May 2015.

Still, the man himself deserves some respect in his return to what he does best—dealing damage with his fists rather than his mouth. Against an unheralded Australian challenger in Horn, Pacquiao seems to be cashing in, adding to a whopping P3.4 billion in total assets, with another perceived easy fight.

Yet in the world of sports, nothing is more compelling than watching a former great enter the final chapter of his legendary career, fighting with all his might, getting his aging body to push some more for that one last taste of glory.

Watch his workouts. The pop in his punches has diminished. The speed not as blinding as it was in his prime. The welts on his face are more recognizable after sparring with far younger and faster opponents. The hunger in his eyes has faded, perhaps more fixed on the far more brutal arena that is politics.

Pacquiao didn’t have a choice but to box, to leave his hometown for a better chance at feeding his starving family while serving and eating punches in the ring.

But the 38-year-old Pacquiao grinds the usual way he has in his previous training camps, despite his accomplishments and wealth. A $10M guaranteed purse could surely make any man motivated, but it’s not hard to believe there’s more to Pacquiao’s drive than money or political ambition.

The man did not start out in boxing for fame, fortune or even for the Presidency. Pacquiao didn’t have a choice but to box, to leave his hometown for a better chance at feeding his starving family while serving and eating punches in the ring.

It’s the quintessential rags-to-riches story relatable to many Filipinos. Pacquiao, though high above from the levels he came from, continues to represent that dream.

Support him in his fight or not, Pacquiao the boxer at the very least deserves your respect.

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About The Author
Omar Glenn D. Belo
Omar Belo was formerly the managing editor of sports website Spin.ph. Prior to that, he was the managing editor at Men's Health Philippines.
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