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List of Articles by Sid Bañez

The Search for a Third Crown: Is Manny Destined for Greatness?

By Sid Bañez
11 Mar 2008

As if superstardom and wealth are not enough, Manny Pacquiao seeks a third world title when he battles Juan Manuel Marquez this Saturday in Las Vegas.

Paradoxically, even without an official world title (unless you count the so-called international championship belt), Manny is, for all intents and purposes, headlining the blockbuster boxing card called “Unfinished Business.” He is the man to beat, notwithstanding that Marquez has the WBC superfeatherweight crown that would be Manny’s third, if the oddsmakers and his diehard fans are correct.

Looking back at Pacquiao’s world championship conquests –against Chatchai Sasakul and Lehlohonolo Ledwaba when he was relatively unknown – the stakes in March 15 are mind-boggling. Maybe it’s not as mind-boggling to Manny anymore because he is now a full-fledged star in The Las Vegas Strip, probably the world’s most famous entertainment locale. But to some of his Filipino fans, even those who have walked along The Strip and ventured into its magnificent hotels and casinos, the forthcoming quest for a third crown not only surpasses the tension of all his previous championship fights but would remain unparalleled by future adventures, with or without a title at stake.

The risks, the promised intensity, the worldwide interest and the rewards at stake are so awesome that less than one week away, the fight as a conversation piece is beginning to be a distraction in the workplace, in school or even in church! The other day, while the sermon is ongoing in my church, I caught a glimpse of someone in the audience stealthily reading a book. It turned out he wasn’t reading the Bible but Recah Trinidad’s "Pacific Storm: Dispatches on Pacquiao of the Philippines".

Let’s look back at Pacquiao’s two successful title shots:

Against WBC flyweight champion Chatchai Sasakul, virtually a national hero in Thailand, Manny was the underdog. At that time even the great mass of Filipino boxing fans have not taken Manny to their heart. It seemed as though there was resignation then that after Luisito Espinosa there might not be another Filipino boxing star for sometime. But Manny dethroned Sasakul in a stunning eighth round knockout. Still there wasn’t earthshaking excitement. After all, how many Filipinos wrested world titles in the past, only to lose them in the first defense?

And then came the pivotal fight against Lehlohonolo Ledwaba for the IBF super bantamweight title. A late substitute and dismissed by the American press as nothing more than a good workout for Ledwaba, Manny hammered the African to submission in the sixth round at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. And so began Manny’s incredible rise to superstardom.

Even without an official championship belt around his waist, Pacquiao has been hailed as the “People’s Champ”, the man everyone wants to fight for a big payday. So far, only the most illustrious managed to bag lucrative contracts - Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.

Marquez managed to bag a contract too. However, champion Marquez, who owns the third crown Manny wants, reportedly made substantial concessions in prize money to fight the superstar challenger. It’s an intriguing move that adds drama to the skills, the sense of national pride, and the ferocity Marquez is expected to bring atop the ring in Mandalay Bay.

Will Manny Pacquiao be as good as when he –- in the fringes of stardom –- dethroned two world champions? That’s one of the questions to be answered when he meets Marquez to settle an unfinished business.

Fight of the year? It may not be too much to expect the fight of the decade.

Note: Sid Bañez is a long time member of Pacland and goes by the handle fistolero.

Back to Sid Bañez's Articles Listing

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