Ringside fans agree Pac-Man has what it takes for Mayweather 2
LAS VEGAS—Manny Pacquiao’s unanimous decision victory over the weekend convinced fans that their beloved sports icon cum politician should still have a few more fights, especially with Mayweather.
The Pac-Man won yet another boxing match and retained his WBA Welterweight Championship, but this fight was a big deal for both The People’s Champ and his legions of followers. Can he still deliver the blows as well as absorb them?
“It’s not a matter of age,” Dave Tiu, a local supporter who saw Pacquiao’s fight against Adrien Broner on pay-per-view (PPV) tells the INQUIRER.net. “I don’t care that he’s already 40, the man is obviously passionate about boxing, and I don’t see anything wrong about that.”
“Pacquiao is still lightning quick as ever,” says New Yorker Greg Leal, another fan who watched the fight also on PPV. “Our beloved senator, even though he has aged, is still the Manny Pacquiao as we know him. Lightning quick with his footwork and his combo punches held Broner. Always having the crowd’s support, he was motivated and relentless. Anxious for a knockout, he bravely fought smart and well. The fighting pride of the Philippines is ready for next bout. Bring on Mayweather!”
“And just like Mayweather, you see Broner avoiding Manny in the closing rounds,” quipped former Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, close friend of the senator and now himself gunning for a senatorial seat in the forthcoming May elections.
“He has nothing else to prove,” Dela Rosa adds. “Malakas pa siya eh! Pero kapag nakita ko na bumagal na siya, mahina na siya, (He’s still strong! But if I sense that he’s slowing down or getting weak), I would be the first to advise him to stop fighting. So, let’s give him that right to decide regarding his fate in boxing.”
“Sabi nga ni Manny sa akin before the fight, kapag makakita tayo ng magandang chance ‘pre, humanon nato ni dayon. Tapusin nato ni para makauwi na tayo. (Manny did tell me before the fight, if there’s a chance buddy, let’s finish this [fight] right away. Let’s finish this so we can go home).
“That’s what his game plan was. But during the closing rounds, kasi takbo ng takbo, iwas ng iwas si Broner, hindi nya ma-fatal talaga. Nakita mo naman gusto pa niyang upakan kaso lang sigaw ng sigaw din si Buboy (Pacquiao) ingat-ingat we’re leading na sa points baka ma chambahan ka pa ng isang malakas na counter-punch. Delikado, just like what happened to him during the Marquez fight.” (That’s what his game plan was. But during the closing rounds, because he [Broner] kept on running and running and avoiding him [Pacquiao], the latter could not give him the fatal blow. You can see that he really wanted to be more aggressive with his punches but Buboy [Pacquiao’s brother] kept on shouting and reminding him to be cautious since they were already leading in points and a repeat of the Marquez fight just might occur because of a lucky counter-punch).
“You want my honest opinion?”, asks general contractor Pete Picarra, who along with his brothers, James and Alex, didn’t mind spending $500 each to have an up-close view of the sold-out PacBroner match at the MGM arena. “Tonight’s victorious fight calls for a rematch with [Floyd Jr.] Mayweather and if that happens, both will make a lot of money. It only makes sense for them to fight again because they are the last true money fighters.”
Amateur boxer Marc Castro from Fresno, California echoes the “money angle”. “Though Pacquiao looked great, that’s not what the storyline is gonna say. They’d say he’s old and didn’t have the power to knock out Broner, but actually he (Pacquiao) didn’t do it so they could make more for the next fight.”
But millennial journalist Justin Masakayan, 20, begs to differ, “Pacquiao is definitely not fighting for the money. We can just not love the guy, let’s not forget his record that says it all.” Masakayan considers the Pac-Man among his role models growing up.
And Ana Julaton, Fil-Am super bantamweight world title holder, couldn’t agree more and considers her idol more than just a boxing champ. “Senator Pacquiao has always been an inspiration to me long before the days we both trained in the Wildcard Gym and to see him continue to fight as a world champion, to take care of his family, and to help our people as a politician shows that there’s no limit to what an individual can achieve,” she told Inquirer in an emailed statement.
“He pretty much controlled all the rounds,” says Alex Picarra, an HVAC technician originally from Hawaii. “Pacquiao controlled the fight no matter what round he was in. Asked if he was disappointed not to witness a knockout, he said Broner did all it takes to drag the fight “or else it would have been over.” “The outcome was predictable. I knew Broner was gonna run once he got hurt, that’s what happened.”
Filipinos and Fil-Ams were not the only ones rooting for Pacquiao that evening. Diverse fans came in droves from different states and parts of the world.
Latina-American Naty Echevarria, a high school sophomore, said she and her family (nine of them) drove about six hours from Arizona. “My father introduced me to boxing when I was four years old. I admire Pacquiao for his humility. He knows exactly what he’s doing inside the ring, yet he doesn’t boast or trash-talk his opponents.”
The Echevarrias are classic boxing aficionados in and out of the ring. Echevarria’s grandfather was himself a professional boxer in the ‘80s. Her father, Fabian, has been following Pacquiao’s fights for over 16 years now. “I followed him since that time when he fought [Marco Antonio] Barrera in 2003. I was bothered when Pacquiao lost to Mayweather in 2015. The judges were pretty wrong with their decision”, Fabian laments.
Even outside America, many fans were also impressed by Pacquiao’s overall performance last Saturday.
“Harry and I very much enjoyed watching Manny retain his title,” says Mithi Aquino-Thomas who flew in from Zimbabwe with her husband, Harry Thomas, Jr., current US Ambassador to Zimbabwe and understandably enough, a former US ambassador to the Philippines who met his wife while he was posted in Manila. “It was a privilege to watch Manny who remains a virtuoso in the ring. He is a true champion, a global hero and makes us proud in and out of the ring.”
Retirement may be inevitable but not yet around the bend for the Pambansang Kamao. If Saturday’s fight is any indication, the natural skill coupled with a dedicated fighter’s heart will be around for quite a few rounds more.