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By Manny Piņol

18 Mar 2011

Curiousity led me to the short video clip, apparently posted by MP Boxing.Com in the Internet, showing Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao watching the last few moments of Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez's demolition of previously undefeated Serhiy Dzinziruk last week and what I saw led me to conclude that the Argentinian champion may just get what he is asking for: Pacquiao versus Martinez.

You see, I have known Manny a bit longer than many of the Pactards clogging the forum, long before the appearance of people who now swarm around him and who press their faces near Pacquiao's just to get inside the television cameras' frames during his post-fight interviews.

I and my brothers staged two of Manny's fights in Kidapawan City 12 years ago, first against Australian Todd Makelin and later against Thai Wethya Sakmuangklang for the World Boxing Council (WBC) International Featherweight title in the newly-completed North Cotabato Provincial Gymnasium which was filled to the rafters by fans who came from all over Mindanao.

Later, I and my bosom friend, former Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte teamed up to stage his defense of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) Featherweight title against No. 1 contender Fhraprakorb Rakkiatgym in the World's Biggest City in land area. Pacquiao demolished the Thai in less than two minutes and earned his first big purse of P10 million.

And having known him quite long enough, Manny has given me the opportunity to study his personality and interpret his body language.

Manny Pacquiao grew up among tough kids in the streets. He was the kind of boy who would take up a challenge when dared and most of all, having survived the odds in life early on, Pacquiao had developed a persona who wants to excel in everything he does.

To my mind, this is the reason why Manny bets big in cockfights and occasionally in the casino. The "You can't top me" attitude is the motivation. It is not the desire to win more money.

This is the reason why he dabbles in billiards playing against the best, plays excellent basketball, appears in the movies and even sings. These are all manifestations of the "If you can do it, I can do it, as well" attitude developed in his younger years surviving the jungles of life.

All these years, even when he had already reached the pinnacle of success and achieved what no other boxer in the history of the sport had done -- 8 divisional boxing titles -- Manny Pacquiao remained child-like. He finds joy and comfort in being appreciated.

The morning after he demolished Oscar dela Hoya, Manny gave me a surprise call. Right after the fight, I flew to Chicago with my brother, Patricio, and my wife and that was where I got his call. And all that he asked was: "Unsay tan-aw nimo sa akong away kay Dela Hoya?" followed by a chuckle. (How did you see my fight against Dela Hoya?)

When I told him: "Hurot na akong bilib sa imo" (You have my greatest admiration!), I heard a childlike laughter from the other end of the line.

People also have to understand that Manny Pacquiao relishes in tough challenges. He is a fearless fighter as manifested in his attitude minutes before he fought Marco Antonio Barrera.

Seeing that his handlers, including his former manager, the late Rod Nazario, Moy Lainez and Lito Mondejar were restless considering that it was a tough fight, Manny told them: "Bakit kayo ang kinakabahan, eh ako naman ang lalaban?" (Why are you scared. It is I who will fight.) And he proceeded to destroy Barrera.

Why am I relating all these?

It is because you have to have a glimpse into Manny Pacquiao's personality to understand and interpret his body language and his reaction to the Martinez dare after his win over Dzinziruk.

That wry smile, which looked like a smirk, and the timid "Ok" when asked of his reaction to Martinez's demolition of Dzinziruk showed a Manny Pacquiao already fed up with the public dare and challenge being put up by the Argentinian champion and his handlers, especially promoter Lou DiBella.

He and his group intently watched the ending of the fight and comments like "mabagal" (slow) and "hindi naman malakas, malaki lang" (he is not really that strong, he is just big) were heard.

I interpreted that to mean that Manny Pacquiao was already studying Martinez's fighting style, strengths and weaknesses.

But the most revealing part of the video was when Manny Pacquiao asked those around him, including younger brother Bobby: "Anong timbang paglalabanan namin?" (At what weight would we fight?)

Hearing that, I made the conclusion: Manny Pacquiao will fight Sergio Martinez. He will take the dare. I smell a fight.

And Sergio Martinez better be prepared.

Wrath has no equal than a Manny Pacquiao dared.

(Notes: Next week, we will dissect the prospective Manny Pacquiao vs. Sergio Martinez fight and analyze both fighters' chances and my take on the outcome of the fight... I feel sad about what's happening to Nonito Donaire, Jr.. He is now like a pinball banging his head from one problem to another. Since, this purely is a legal issue, I will reserve my comments until all the information is placed on the table.)

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