Manny the Pacmanian Devil?
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Sun, 31 May 2020
Manny Pacquiao had been called names before, at times likening him to an animal or beast but this is the first time, somebody called him a devil (inside the ring).
But before we dwell into that, if Manny were an animal or a beast, what would he most likely be?
A tiger. The king of the wild cats. In Indian jungle, even crocs and bears fear this animal. But no, tigers are solitary hunters. Anti social. Manny is not like that.
A lion. The king of the African savannah. Known to take on and devour elephants, rhinos and hippos. And crocs too, on land. A single male lion is enough to send packs of hyenas and wild dogs scampering in all directions. Nah, male lions are lazy and selfish. They would rather the lionesses do the hunting, coming in only for the kill and having literally his lion's share devouring the prey. Manny is not like that.
Manny is so fierce but also so gentle, I am reminded of the honey badgers, those seemingly cuddly little creatures lions, hyenas and wild dogs in packs would not trifle with.
Or the badger's distant relative Down Under, the Tasmanian Devil which is as unforgivingly ferocious and voracious but whose image has been tempered by that loveable cartoon character, Taz short for Tazmanian Devil.
Hence when a venerable, old hand trainer as Ignacio Nacho Beristain likened Manny to a devil atop the ring, i thought Pacquiao has to consider a tinkering with his nickname, Pacman.
Pacman was that 1980s lovable TV cartoon and video game character who was tame and seemingly vulnerable but through the magic of the power pellets suddenly turns to a voracious chomping machine against his pursuing ghostlike adversaries. From hunted to hunter.
Pacman fittingly suited Manny for his gentle and gentlemanly ways inside and outside the fight arena and the manner he dispatched the opposition in gobbling up world titles in a record eight weight divisions.
But Pacman has had its bad connotation. Pacman the cartoon/ video game character needs power pellets to make it strong and turn it into an unstoppable consuming machine. Critics have pounced on this in insinuating and actually accusing that Manny was or has been into performing enhancing drugs or PED. Which was unfounded and remains unsubstantiated, much less proven to these days.
Manny could therefore consider a reboot with his Pacman alias in the light of Beristain's also apt description of his demeanor inside the ring.
Afterall, Manny has grown so popular that most people have forgotten about the cartoon or video game character from where he derived his alias. Pacman has also become passe with the newer video games available.
In a recent interview with El Boxcast, by comparing Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales, Nacho Beristain described Manny as a devil inside the ring:
"Pacquiao fought with Juan Manuel forty-something rounds and to be locked in a ring with the devil [for that long is impressive] because Pacquiao is practically the devil inside the ring,” said Beristain.
“The perfect example of [the devil] is the beating he gave Erik Morales in the second fight, it was terrible facing Pacquiao in the ring. It was something terrible, because the punching power, because of the speed, because of many things,” said Beristain.
In recent memory, the only other fighter who was described as a devil by knowledgable experts was Roberto Duran.
Manny sure has many things in common with the all time great Panamanian fighter known as the Hands of Stone who was the first man to beat prime Sugar Ray Leonard.
If you watch old footages of the vintage Duran in action, you will be reminded of Pacquiao in terms of courage, intelligence, intensity, passion and sheer love of fighting and hate of losing. Minus the trash talking, insulting and expletive, in Spanish anyway, of Roberto.
I know that Vinnie Paziencia also tried to mimic Duran and once styled himself as the Pazmanian Devil but it did not pan out or catch on as he was not really that hot and thus his career went largely unnoticed by most fans especially those outside of his native state.
Pacquiao's fighting attributes certainly fit Beristain's description and the comparison with the devil Duran, also minus the latter's characteristic grin or scowl. Definitely more than Paziencia.
So, how about Manny the Pacmanian Devil?
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
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