Revenge then retire

Call me anti-Filipino or a non-boxing expert, but what my eyes witnessed last Sunday was the opposite of what the majority saw: I thought Manny lost.

The key moment was the 12th round. And the 11th. The 10th. Sadly, and inexplicably, like LeBron James when the 4th quarter of the NBA Final arrives, Pacman does the same: seeing the finish line in those last three rounds, he flees.

In the scorecards of all three judges, Manny lost that all-crucial final round. (Even Jerry Roth, the lone judge who scored the bout in Manny’s favor, gave Timothy Bradley the nod from Rounds 10 to 12.)

Back to the 12th round, had Manny won those final 180 seconds—by striking, by attacking, by bombarding the American with that German-like blitzkrieg attack of Pinoy punches, then the decision would have been reversed. Duane Ford and CJ Ross would have totaled 114-114 and Pacman would have won.

But, no. When it was time to unleash the storm of bullets off his red gloves, Manny did not. It was Bradley who looked revitalized. Manny should know better. Why leave the decision in the trickle minds of the judges? Why not go ferocious, animalistic, merciless, like we’ve seen him against Cotto, Margarito and De La Hoya?

Michael Aldeguer said it best: “Manny lost the last two rounds which sometimes could sway the judges. As I always believe, the last two rounds are the most important.”

Like any movie or book or concert, we know what part is most significant: The Ending. And, in this ending, Manny failed. And while we can argue forever about the outcome, this conclusion we all agree on: Manny has lost his power. He’s no longer the same man who bloodied David Diaz, who laid to bed Ricky Hatton, who transformed Joshua Clottey into a coward. Pacman has fought 60 times and, if we add all his years of brutal hand-to-hand exchanges from the teenage years to today, then it’s two decades of relentless combat.

The pattern is obvious. Wasn’t Manny unimpressive in his previous fight against Juan Manuel Marquez? (“Now we know how the Mexicans feel!” said Jack Jakosalem.) Against Shane Mosley, he, too, was unremarkable.

JIMMY LAO. I watched the fight inside the multi-million peso home theater (possibly the best home theater in the entire island) of Jimmy Lao, my fellow Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Cebu West. Inside the dark room with dozens of La-Z-Boy reclining chairs, our companions from Singapore (RC of Singapore West) joined us. Unlike the previous Pacman fights when shouting and cheering would energize us, this time, like a bad foretelling, the mood was subdued.

I was seated beside Romy Dy Pico. “Congressman,” we call him, Romy was in Las Vegas last November when Pacquiao beat Marquez. “The booing was so loud by the Mexicans when Marquez lost,” said Romy.

Conspiracy theories? Dr. Ronnie Medalle and our Rotary Past District Governor Ray Patuasi think so. They believe that Pacman is looking long-term and this loss his part of a grander scheme.

“No follow-up!” said Dr. Nonito Narvasa. Unlike the Manny-of-Old who’d tirelessly go for the kill when the opponent is weakening, this time he was passive.

COINCIDENCE? As pointed out by Quinito Henson in yesterday’s Philippine Star, here’s an interesting occurrence: Manny lost to Medgeon 3-K Battery of Thailand in 1999 after he won 15 straight wins. In 2005, he lost to Erik Morales after winning another 15 straight. And now… after winning 15 straight, he loses.

FINISH. To me, this defeat of Pacquiao is ultimately good for his career. (He’s still expected to earn, including PPV receipts, over $30 million! If that’s not good…)

Nobody wants Manny to fight three more times. He’s already on the all-time greatest list. He’s earned billions. He’s a congressman. He’ll turn 34 this December.

What’s the best scenario? Pacman secures a rematch in November and KOs the American. Manny retires with a win, his place in the greatest-of-all-time secure. Now that—and not a 12th round retreat—brings a Happy Ending to this real-life Manny Pacquiao movie.

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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