Shocker!

It’s true that Team Philippines won 5-1 against the Mexican contingent. It’s true that we’re bringing home the World Cup. But here’s the sad truth: In the biggest fight of his career, in the biggest fight of the night… Rey “Boom-Boom” Bautista was pummeled to the floor. What a shocker! Didn’t you feel sad? I pity Boom-Boom. I’ve spoken to him in person several times and he’s such a quiet, humble, soft-spoken and good kid. He’s only 21. And that’s the good news. Because he’ll rise from this fall, train even harder and avenge that shocking blow.

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Finally, it’s here! War! It’s Mexico vs. RP

I live in Talamban. Veco says that we’ll experience power interruption starting 10 last night until 9 this morning. I hope they turn on the switch at 9 or earlier today. I don’t want to miss the World Cup. Who wants to? Nobody. I know that this morning, traffic will halt. Streets will stand deserted. Cars parked. Engines asleep. Cebuanos will be facing the flat screen to cheer, clap, slam the table if our own is KO’d, stand and touch the ceiling if a Mexican is twisted and mangled like a taco. Go, RP!

SISO. Did you watch Star Sports last Thursday at 10 p.m.? I hope you did. Me? I got teary-eyed. The story of the three Siso children—Nino, Sally Dine, Sally Mae—of how they were tutored and nurtured by their late father Dino (who passed away last year to cancer), is both heart-breaking and inspiring. Asked if they’ve given up hope in tennis now that their father is gone, the Siso siblings replied, “No. Because dad was happiest when we’re playing.” (In case you missed it, e-mail me at [email protected] I’ll send you a DVD copy.)

FOOTBALL season is back. Next weekend, it’s the annual San Roque Football Festival. On August 25, it’s by Mizuno. This is excellent news. Football today, among children, is more popular than basketball. Not to criticize the game with the orange Spalding ball and 10-foot-tall ring. I played elementary basketball varsity at La Salle Bacolod and recall those moments as some of my life’s most memorable. But football is better for Filipinos. Why? Because while we cried and lost in Tokushima, Japan, on the football world scene, we have a chance. Not as an RP team. But as individuals. For you don’t need to be 6-foot-8 like LeBron James to be a star. Look at Maradona. He stood 5-foot-5.

Barrera? No, it’s Pacquaio vs. Morales

Who said Manny Pacquiao was fighting Marco Antonio Barrera on October 6 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas?

Much earlier than that, Pacquiao is fighting Morales. Yes, Morales. Haven’t you read the news? The prize money isn’t the reported $5 million Pacman is due to receive against Barrera. It’s over a car. Nope. Not just any car. It’s a Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Wow. That’s no ordinary machine. It’s an SUV that retails in the U.S. for $93,700. Computed in pesos, that’s P4.872 million.

But wait, it’s not Erik Morales whom Manny’s fighting. This Morales is first-named Napoleon and he’s no boxer. His championship belt? His title? Customs Commissioner.

Here’s what happened: Last July 2006, after his successful third-round knockout of Erik Morales, Manny imported the Porsche. He tapped a broker to process the entry. The Porsche left the docks of California and traveled the Pacific Ocean before landing in Manila. At the Customs port, after negotiations, the SUV stepped outside the gated walls and unto the streets of Manila.

Manny Pacquiao smiled. His Porsche had arrived “home.”

Why You Should Watch ‘Rocky Balboa’

OF ALL the 728 movies I’ve watched, one of my all-time favorites is ‘Rocky.’ Who hasn’t seen Rocky? Who doesn’t know him? Who didn’t clench his fist when he sparred inside the freezer against those slabs of meat? Whose heartbeat, upon hearing the Rocky theme song, didn’t bang against his chest? And whose tears didn’t drip when he was bullied and spat on by Apollo Creed?

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Boom! Boom! Boom!

“I couldn’t surrender,” said Rey Bautista. “I remembered my hardship when I was growing up, the time a bamboo pole was stuck in my head when I was a kid bleeding and walking 30 minutes before reaching home to find someone to remove it. I remembered my poor parents. I couldn’t let them down.”

Hooray for Boom-Boom! Wasn’t he amazing? Listening to Edito Villamor, his trainer, dishing out advice (“Ari sa tiyan!”) between rounds, didn’t you feel proud to be Bisaya? After Boom-Boom’s win, when he raised both arms, stared at the TV screen, and screamed “Para ni sa imo, ma!” or words to that effect, didn’t you want to shed a tear?

To me, the fight of the night was Bautista’s. De la Hoya vs. Mayweather? Nah. Lousy. I’m no boxing expert, but wasn’t that boring? Maybe it was the hype or the six months wait. But that was no classic. Sure, we saw jabs and jabs and jabs, and we saw Floyd sliding back and sliding back and sliding back. That’s it? That’s it. Was that what the world awaited?

Maybe that’s why I liked Mike Tyson and adore Manny Pacquiao. They jump on you, bloody you, rifle you with machine-gun punches, rarely on the defense, always on the offense, and when they smell defeat dripping off the enemy’s sweat, they bite, chew, and then kiss you. Yes. Kiss you with a KO.

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For Z, more Zzzz’s before The Dream

The last time I saw Manny Pacquiao at the Cebu City Sports Center, it was one year ago—February 24, 2006—during the Cebu City Charter Day celebration. Manny was greeted by thousands who overflowed the grandstand bleachers to clap and cheer and wave at our RP hero. Manny sang his sentimental song, “Laban Ko ‘To.” He braved the crowds swarmed with Pacman fanatics. During the formal introductions emceed by Councilor Jack Jakosalem, he upstaged our land’s two highest leaders—President GMA and Cardinal Vidal—with a standing ovation.

This was then.

Last Saturday—exactly 12 months later—at 8:15 in the evening, Manny Pacquiao once more entered our Sports Center. Clad in a pink-striped, short-sleeves polo shirt, he wore a shining pair of black leather shoes and an even shinier Rolex watch studded with gold and diamonds. Pacquiao entered the right side of the complex and when the tens of thousands spotted the man, they zoomed on him like a spotlight. People rose. Eyes enlarged. Mouths opened. The speakers blared. But, guess what—something unbelievable and shocking happened next…

Manny Pacquiao was booed!

No kidding. The reigning world champion. The Superman who put Erik Morales to sleep in Las Vegas. RP’s greatest-ever boxer—and yes, that includes Flash Elorde and Pancho Villa.

Manny Pacquiao was booed!

Embarrassing? Nah. Shameful? Nah. Demeaning? Nah. It was much more than that. It was a lesson. A warning. A message. A signal to Mr. Pacquiao that he ought to stick with the first name “Mister” and not change it to “Congressman.”

Seconds after Pacquiao was jeered, thousands screamed in unison, “CONGRESSMAN! CONGRESSMAN!”

And then another round of boos…

Boo, Manny!

You know what? I hope Pacquiao hears more boos. I hope he listens. I hope he hears the message clear and loud, “Back to the gym, not the political ring!”

“Moment of Truth” was, to say the least, a huge, huge success. I’ve been to dozens of events at the Sports Center but I’ve never seen the grandstand as jam-packed as three nights ago.

Cebuanos love boxing. We know that. From Cebu Coliseum to the Waterfront Lahug ballroom to the Mandaue Coliseum to the Gaisano Country Mall parking lot—Cebuanos always paid money, lined up, and watched. But last Saturday was different. It was HUGE. From the boxing ring that loomed at the center with a giant tent—it was Cebu’s first world boxing championship in 10 years—the last time was in Mactan back in 1997 when Gerry Penalosa defended his crown.

The “Moment of Truth” was a moment of success. Even the seats marked P5,000 and P2,000—very expensive tickets based on how “tihik” Cebuanos are—were packed.

To ALA himself, Antonio L. Aldeguer; to his partner and the event promoter, Sammy Gello-ani; to ALA’s heir apparent and boxing’s newest manager, Michael Aldeguer; to Golden Boy Promotions and ABS-CBN—you’ve done Cebu proud.

Z Gorres? Wow. He gave it everything. He punched. He jabbed. He absorbed punches thrown by Fernando Montiel that would have wobbled a lesser being. Behind every “GORRES! GORRES! GORRES!” chant of the thousands from the bleachers, Z Gorres fought. He never backed away. He had Montiel on the ropes, he had Montiel’s left eye bleeding and swollen, he had Montiel’s mouth open and his teeth guard hanging on the 12th round.

He had Montiel him. Almost.

Two points. Those two point deductions he received were painful. Was the referee correct on those? Why wasn’t Z given enough warnings? Did those deductions dampen Z and make a difference at the later rounds?

We don’t know. What we know is this: Z’s time as world champion will soon arrive. But for now, Z’s dream will have to wait. And sleep.

Boom-Boom Bautista? Wow. Wow. Wow. Before the first round bell rang, everybody knew the Boholano would win. It was never a question of “If” but “What round.”

Not only was Boom-Boom in excellent shape, but his opponent was the opposite. From where I sat about 30 feet from the ring, Marino Gonzales never owned the required “six-pack” abs of a boxer. In our words, “naa siya’y bil-bil.” No kidding. You could see fat smiling naked above his shorts. And wasn’t it the first time he’s ever stepped outside Mexico? And didn’t he arrive the day before the fight?

But back to Boom-Boom, I’ve seen him fight in person twice before and, I must say, there’s something different about the Boom-Boom I saw at 10:30 last Saturday night.

Swagger. Yes. He’s got it. That inside-the-chest, Sorry, no chance-you-can-beat-me attitude that resides deep inside every title-holder. In Boom-Boom, you can see it in his eyes. You can see it in the way he prances around the stage. You can see it with our own bare eyes and say, “Future world champion.”

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