Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
While the whole Philippine nation is still in denial over Manny Pacquiao’s loss to Timothy Bradley, he himself has moved on. Sometimes it takes a foreigner to recognize the true greatness of a Filipino. Brian Kenney of Top Rank described Manny Pacquiao as ‘marvelous in defeat’. This was after Pacquiao admitted that he believed that he won the fight but credit must also be given to Bradley for the gallant effort. In spite of the shocking decision loss, Pacquiao approached his opponent across the ring to give him a congratulatory hug.
It was much like the way he did with all of his opponents most when he won 7 consecutive times. The true test of character is not when he wins. It’s fairly easy to be magnanimous in victory. It’s when he loses that he shows true character, grit. Again in this respect he has carried our flag with dignity and pride. Jessica Sanchez also showed similar grace when she came in 2nd to Phillip Phillips in American Idol this year. For this fight she sang an emotional “Star Spangled Banner” while the lovely Kirby Asunto sang “Lupang Hinirang.”
Another obvious indication of this true greatness is his ability to win over opponents and even become friends after the fight. Contrast this with Floyd Mayweather Jr. antagonizing people left and right. His last and most viewed debacle was his ballistic reaction to HBO sportscaster Larry Merchant. He screamed at the 80-year-old Hall of fame boxing analyst, “You don’t know s___t about boxing!”
The headlines and TV broadcasts here in Manila concern themselves with the validity of Bradley’s win. A case could be made for either side, as the fight was close, although Bradley did admit to being hurt. Pacquiao was able to land more power punches and staggered Bradley in the 4th, 5th and 6th rounds. Bradley came back in the later rounds to land more but never visibly hurt Pacquiao at any time. This leads me to believe that given a rematch the Pambansang Kamao will definitely knock Bradley out.
In MMA or the UFC, it’s not the frequency of the punches but more of the damage that they do on the opponent that counts more. If one fighter lands one hundred punches but does not stagger or visibly hurt opponent, that does not mean the round is won. His opponent who lands only ten punches but does stagger or daze him even if he is NOT knocked down wins the round. Unless there is a knock down or stoppage, boxing relies on the frequency of punches. Judges may have been swayed by a more active Bradley in the latter rounds even though he was not able to visibly hurt Pacquiao.
For me it’s not an issue if he won or lost, the more important question is how do we as Filipinos react? Do we support Pacquiao? Do we contest the results or do we consider him as a has-been ready for retirement? The prospect of a more exciting rematch and a greater motivation to KO Bradley refutes the questions of retirement. The reaction of Filipinos and the world to the decision loss is also an obvious indication that Pacquiao has transcended boxing. A Malaysian, Col. Mohd Zahar Hashim whom I recently talked to said that he was very disappointed with the decision. Asians, boxing fans and people from across the world admire this Filipino fighter who was once a street kid in Manila.
Filipinos have come to EXPECT him to lift the spirits of the whole nation with every fight. This is a burden of responsibility that I have never seen given to any other compatriot. The collective psyches of almost 100 million people are reliant on his victory or loss. He has already proven himself in the ring as one of the greatest of all time. True greatness is not in the many wins or unifying belts etc. it’s how he has transcended the sport.
This is the time when he needs us the most. Already our kababayan in the U.S. have remained faithful and warm to their hero. In defeat you find out who your real friends are and those who truly love you. Senator Jinggoy Estrada was with Manny watching the Boston vs Miami Eastern Conference Finals which may have delayed the fight. Pacquiao could not abandon the Celtics squad who visited him after the Diaz fight, although they too fell in defeat.
The following day after the loss Pacquiao celebrated mass with the Filipino community. Behind him are his (one time foster parents) Lito and Beng Atienza. Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza may be running for congress in the next elections. Beside him is the ever-present Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson. We are proud of you Manny for what you’ve done; you honor us with your grace in defeat. We commit ourselves to support you in all your battles no matter what the outcome.