Philippines, 27 Mar 2023
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Pacquiao Watch: Dashing hopes

Some in Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s camp must be disappointed that the title fight against welterweight champion Errol Spence has been dropped after the latter suffered a retinal tear injury on the left eye.

The Pacquiao-Spence is the closest to a marquee match up the Philippine senator has not been involved since he last fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015. That fight grossed for the senator more than $100 million. He may have lost that stanza but his fattened bank account was winner many folds.

The Spence fight would have been his 8th fight since the Mayweather debacle. In that span, we saw how Pacquiao steadily lost his box office attraction as the purse kept on sliding down along with the competition that kept on getting thinner.

The appeal of boxing is waning.

It will take some time before it can match the ferocity of the competition that oftentimes comes in cycles. The eras of Ali, Leonard, Golden Boy and Pacquiao-Mayweather ushered new heights and standards in terms of live audiences that migrated into pay-per-views and purses that went and leaped outrageously enormous.

For some boxing greats who precipitated the shifting and spiraling successes in their respective golden periods, it was very difficult to leave the square ring.

Muhammad Ali was mere shadow of himself by the time he was brutally beaten by former sparring partner Larry Holmes.

Sugar Ray Leonard was a pitiful sight when he made several comebacks past his prime time.

Golden Boy Oscar dela Hoya was ugly and could not pull the trigger when he shed a ton of pounds to challenge Pacquiao who was then at the prime of his boxing career.

Pacquiao and Mayweather had the luxurious distinction of laying off and coming back and of retiring and unretiring simply because the audience is still there.

For Pacquiao, the lure of the limelight is like the moth’s attraction to a candlelight. So much so that even at the very ripe age of 42 and with his guaranteed purse greatly reduced, he is still at it.

Pacquiao is far from being a wash up fighter. He still has that oomph that could shame many pretenders to the throne.

But Pacquiao is no longer there for the challenge. He is there both for economic and political reasons.

That is why the sudden and unexpected setback in the Pacquiao-Spence fight is disappointing to many of his supporters. Cuban refugee Yordenis Ugas will substitute for Errol Spence as the fight is already too close to call off.

Until his name was brought up, Ugas was unknown except to the most rabid boxing aficionados. Nobody heard of him in the Philippines until it was announced that he will have the chance that Manny Pacquiao had when the latter was called in short notice to fight Lehlo Ledwaba 20 years ago in the same glittering city that brought him to boxing stardom.

Win or lose, this time, Pacquiao has nothing to gain in terms of political mileage and goodwill.

Win and it will be dismissed as a triumph over a non-entity. Lose and he will suffer the ignominy of refusing to learn the hard lessons of the brutal sport that is boxing.

More importantly, the political bonanza that many of the political handlers of Pacquiao expected to reap in the Errol fight has vanished into the thin air.

As a rabid student of the sports and a faithful boxing fan of Pacquiao, I still believe and hope that he will win on a different Sunday come August 22.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Edwin G. Espejo.

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