Pacquiao: Boxing’s Last Great Hero

Congressman Manny Pacquiao endorsed SONY 3D last August 2010

( Note: Photos used here are from the SONY 3D launch I covered August of this year. Congressman Manny Pacquiao has inked an important deal to add to his growing list of endorsements. SONY Philippines recently tapped him as the official endorser of their 3D technology. Unlike any other endorsement deal however, this one may prove to have the most cutting edge technology. 3D is available in a wide range of products from TVs (Bravia), game console (Playstation 3) and high end video cameras (NEX-5). Pacquiao also has the distinction of being the owner of the first 3D capable TV in the country: a 52 inch 3D Bravia TV and 3D Blu-Ray player.)

Written and photographed

By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista

Sportswriters and sportscasters are known for describing athletic feats to what seems like exaggerated levels. More often than not they are backed up by one thing: STATS. Numbers whose countless athletes’ careers are based on. Being able to achieve seven world titles in 7 different weight divisions is mind boggling. Manny Pacqiao’s going for his eighth world title belt in 8 different weight divisions this Sunday (Manila time). If Manny hadn’t achieved it no one would’ve thought it was even possible. So until someone else gets 9 belts in as many divisions, the statement stands.

The great names like Mohammed Ali, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, Joe Louis come very few and far in between. And Manny, just based on the numbers, has already exceeded all of them. Someone may come along to equal or surpass Pacquiao’s achievements but based on history and the magnitude, it’s unthinkable. Until that person comes along and does it, Pacquiao may be the last of boxing’s great heroes. 

Cong Pacquiao is mobbed by people everywhere he goes in the Phil or abroad

If a future boxer would achieve even just half (4 world titles in 4 divisions) of what Pacquiao has achieved then that would be extraordinary. But since Manny has reached such mind boggling heights, other boxer’s successes will suffer from being compared to it. So the definition of a ‘great’ boxer has already been rewritten or redefined.

A brilliant example would be the comparison between him and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Floyd in any boxing pundit’s standard is already a shoo in for the hall of fame. His legacy is his undefeated record of 41-0. And yet because he decided to accuse Pacquiao of PED usage instead of climbing the ring with him, he has earned the title of being the biggest coward in boxing history. No one has stylistically and the skill set to defeat Manny Pacquiao more than Mayweather does. It was a complete mystery to everyone why and how Floyd would have to resort to a completely baseless accusation. Now, boxing experts see his record more as a cop out instead of highlighting his undefeated status. (For full article on it click on the link)

Cong. Manny Pacquiao dons 3D glasses and exchanges jackets with SONY Phil. Pres and Managing Dir. Takao Kuroda

Emergence of MMA

My toughest college professor, Ayi Magpayo said in a TV scriptwriting class, “You don’t exist in a vacuum. You have to know, what’s been done, what’s out there.” He was referring to possible competition and what holds the attention of audiences. In a word that would be MMA or mixed martial arts. There has been an explosion of interest and fans worldwide specifically in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). For a lot of people the UFC is quickly becoming the number one combat sport, in the world. This is the role that boxing played for a long time.

The chaos of people mobbing Manny Pacquiao was incredible. I tried to get a shot of Arel Virtusio with Manny. Arel (the guy in black on the right) is a college classmate of mine also in Ayi Magpayo’s scriptwriting class. He now works in their firm Virtusio PR.

Don’t get me wrong, I love boxing I grew up being a fan. And to a certain extent it still has a slight popularity advantage. But the speed with which MMA is growing convinces me that eventually it will surpass boxing’s popularity. There are so many reasons why it’s growing so fast. It involves a lot of striking, punching, kicking, elbows and grappling and wrestling. The dimensions that these add in a fight are both physically and mentally demanding. There are so many different disciplines that one can use: Muay Thai Kickboxing, Karatedo, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Savat etc. etc. Add to this the grappling side of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Greco Roman Wrestling termed as the ground game. That’s why it’s called mixed martial arts.

The excitement of a knock out within three rounds or less is higher. Championship fights are 5 rounds. Traditional boxing is only one dimension of MMA. The UFC has been so well managed that it has lived up to its reputation of being as “Real As It Gets.” There are no antics or fixed bouts, just two men trying to defeat each other in the octagon.

Congressman Manny Pacquiao inks endorsement deal with SONY with him from left:SONY Phil National Sales Dir. Larry Secreto, Pacquiao Manager Eric Pineda, SONY Phil. Pres and Managing Dir. Takao Kuroda, SONY Phil. Marketing Communications Div. Dir. Alvin De Vera

This has several effects on boxing as a sport. Viewers and fans aren’t the only ones migrating to the UFC. The boxers themselves also want to try their luck in MMA. Former Heavyweight Champ James “Lights Out” Toney found out the hard way about the superiority of MMA from Randy Couture. Randy easily took him down the mat and ground and pounded Toney’s body and face. Mercifully Couture choked him with an arm triangle to end it within 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

from right: Congressman Manny Pacquiao, SONY Phil. Marketing Communications Div. Dir. Alvin De Vera and Pacquiao Manager Eric Pineda

There’s little argument that Pacquiao’s achievements are nearly impossible to duplicate let alone surpass. MMA is eating away at boxing’s market/audiences AND fighters. Knowing both of these things, it is highly probable that Manny Pacquiao is boxing’s last great hero.

As I was walking through a mall, I saw dozens of men falling in line at a stall giving out uninterrupted airing of the Pacquiao vs Margarito fight. They had to subscribe to a wireless digital cable subscription to Cignal to get it. If we didn’t have our old antiquated cable subscription I would’ve gone for it. Pacman may well be the last boxing legend to capture the imagination of the world. I’d gladly tell my future children that I witnessed the fights of the greatest boxer who ever lived and more importantly: he’s one of us- a Filipino.

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