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Manny Pacquiao, Beyond Boxing


PhilBoxing.com




It is now fight week of Manny Pacquiao vs Lucas Mathysse. I see crowded restaurants, customers carousing in packed bars, others still entreating to be let in only to stand on doorways and are immediately infected by the revelries within at the sight of the legendary giant slayer on television. Outside the viewing window of the Allegro Cafe to the plaza a hard up throng composed of tricycle drivers, street vendors, the Pilipino homeless, beat, shoddy, in threadbare pants and soiled shirts gather around the wide opening like a scab to a dried up wound; they smell, sweltering in the sun.

This was during the heydays of Pacquiao's career. Well-seated paying customers half-jabbed with forks followed by lancing spoons at assigned tables. Meanwhile, the incommoded outside crowd hurrahed, projecting exultant fists and swayed their shoulders, stomping their feet on the ground. "If he can make it that far I can too," a dreamy fellow in tattered shirt says. Behind them the heavy traffic disappears. Police and army stations can relax as the rebellion is suspended for the catalytic duration of the rubber-match.

Presently, the Allegro Cafe is out of business. Cinemas, restaurant owners struggle to sell tickets even with appended buffet promotional offers. The general public hardly talks about it, gone are the heated debates, piled up bets on who should come out the victor, unable of being distracted from bigger societal issues. Nowadays national tribulations, economic woes overhang, are larger than Manny Pacquiao's fights.

Lucas Mathysse (39-4-1) has been a crowd favorite for most of his career due to his high knockout ratio and for being a pressure fighter who steps in the ring surely to slug it out. There will be no capering, no finesse, nor pulling of punches. He will be defending his WBA Welterweight belt against Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2) whose heart remains dangerously torn between the love for boxing and public service. Pugilism demands total active commitment from every practitioner, and the boxing community has not yet dispelled the harrowing image of the eight-division world boxing champion lying prostrate on the canvas against Juan Manuel Marquez. Coach Freddie Roach is now also out of the picture.

Promises of a better performance are repeatedly announced by Team Pacquiao that for some don't cut ice. What can the inexperienced new head coach Buboy Fernandez do differently this time around, at the twilight of Pac-man's career? Concerned fans are rueful upon this premise.

Hardcore followers of the sport believe that Manny Pacquiao's Pound-For-Pound best days are over, if not long gone. A good number of tepid fans will continue to cheer on. But the vast majority of the poor will still cross the streets to cover the windows of cafes and small diners that shall show what remains of the legend of the once dirt-poor Manny Pacquiao. Some are house-helps, gophers, marginalized citizens; trikes, bicycles driven by children that ought to be in schools rather than at work or in the streets, teenagers standing on holed slippers, the less fortunate crowd that loves Pacquiao way much more than they will ever learn to love or even fully understand the technicalities of boxing. They are the ones often indiscriminately accused of being "Pac-tards," but they couldn't care less. For them all is fair in love and war, and they are always at war. They are at war with an oppressive society, with their own government and its officials, injustice, and perennial poverty. They stand in line dreaming on of a better Manny Pacquiao, a symbol to them of a better life, in the midst of a country under constant external and internal duress, a doubling inflation rate- knowing or not knowing that their children are likely going to be much poorer than they ever were. Inevitably, when the time comes for Manny Pacquiao to retire from the sport this, if one permits me this one liberty, of calling this a Confounded Generation- ensconced at the dregs of countless unfulfilled promises, fake news, double-speaking and contradictory leadership, shameless politicking, a generation whose lives are no better one whit from the day man hurled himself into space- this poor generation's plan shall remain steadfast: fight on.

Mark F. Villanueva
Twitter: @Markfvillanueva
Markfvillanueva@Gmail.com


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Mark F. Villanueva.


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