MP’s secret is spelled MP


MP (center) with, from left, Jun Migallen, Girlie Garces, John Pages, Gerry Peñalosa, Michael Aldeguer, Jingo Quijano and Raffy Osumo during the Cebu Sports Awards

Speed. Power. Stamina. Muscle. A 60-day-long training regimen that’s unmatched in boxing. A Hall of Fame coaching wonk named Freddie Roach. These components, plus more, are essential in making our RP hero the boxing world’s No. 1. But, to me, what is the most significant reason why Pacman will knockout Hitman today?

His belief. His conviction. His assuredness. His confidence. You see, while boxing is humankind’s bloodiest entertainment, while one employs two fists to wallop and thump and slaughter one enemy, while boxing is the most physical of all physical endeavors—here’s the untold secret: It’s not about the muscle. It’s about the mind.

Boxing is mental. It’s a face-to-face battle between one brain versus another. It’s a mental warfare to determine who, psychologically, is strongest. And, when we speak of who has a mind that is most determined, most omnipotent, most durable and most resolute, the answer comes in two initials: MP. Mind Power. Manny Pacquiao.

Remember last December 6? Remember when 20 of the world’s top boxing experts were asked their opinions before the fight and 18 said that Oscar De La Hoya would massacre Pacquiao? They underestimated MP’s MP.

Remember his first fight against Marco Antonio Barrera? In November of 2003? When nobody had heard of Pacman while his opponent was a many-time world champion? And one of Mexico’s greatest? And how, in that 11th round stoppage, the Filipino and boxing populace was in disbelief at the GenSan native? We underestimated MP’s MP.

For here’s my conclusion: The more physical and muscular sport has become this 21st century, the more essential the strength of mind. Apart from MP, who else, in today’s athletic field, do I consider having the strongest MP, mind power?

Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal.

Consider that when Tiger Woods is leading (or has a share of the lead) going into the final round of a major, he is undefeated. While many golfers would be sleepless and jittery the night before possibly winning a Grand Slam event, Tiger Woods is unruffled, undisturbed, unflappable. In major tournaments, he’s 14 for 14 wins wearing that red T-shirt on that final day.

He has MP. Mind Power. Like our own MP.

Rafael Nadal? On the surface where the ATP players are now playing on, the clay-court? He is invincible, unconquerable, unsurpassable. Since 2005, when he started playing at the French Open (one of tennis’ four Grand Slam events), he has not lost. Not one match. Seven matches multiplied by four years equals 28 victories. And no losses. RN has MP.

Because as muscular as Tiger Woods is among the beer-belly-looking golfers (he is, by far, the most athletic) and as Herculean and brawny Rafael Nadal looks on that tennis court, it’s not the external physique that makes them No. 1 both in golf and tennis.

It’s MP. Mind Power. Just like MP. Manny Pacquiao.

Which makes all of this not a coincidence when, just a few days ago, Time magazine released it’s annual “Time 100” issue chronicling “The World’s Most Influential People.”

As expected, on the list are famous names like world leaders Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and, of course, Barack Obama. Actors Tom Hanks, Penelope Cruz, George Clooney and, surprisingly, Zac Efron, are included. There’s founder Jeff Bezos, pastor Rick Warren and, sure enough, Oprah Winfrey.

How about sports? Only three athletes, out of the list of 100, are included.

This trio is similar in many aspects. They’re world  No. 1s in their respective games. They sport win-loss records that make them seem almost unbeatable. Numerous world titles and Grand Slam trophies adorn their palatial homes. Most of all, they are bound by a willpower so strong, a mind so stable, a resolve to win that is relentless, a toughness of the brain tissue that is sturdy, firm, and tenacious.

Tiger Woods is on that Time 100 list. So is Rafael Nadal. The third member?

Our hearts, prayers and country’s hopes reside on his boxing gloves today.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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