PACQUIAO WATCH: Time is ticking

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 June) — Whether Manny Pacquiao was an innocent victim of Las Vegas stick up or a willing participant to a farce as many are now suggesting, his controversial loss Sunday leads one to ask:  “Is it Manny’s time to leave the game?”

Skills-wise, Manny has not really lost some big steps.  He still packs power in both hands.  He is still nimble with his feet and he still can pull the trigger so to speak although, admittedly, he seems to be adding flab all over his body.

Timothy Bradley, the hapless benefactor of the foul decision, visibly cannot stand the heat of Manny’s flurries.  The newly appointed champion lost his patented aggressiveness from the third round up after being tagged by left straights from Manny.  When he chose to engage, Bradley found himself at the receiving end of the power punches both fighters threw with bad intention, albeit wild abandon.

At 28, Bradley is five years Manny’s junior and has been either a lightweight or a welterweight his entire professional boxing career.   With just 29 fights, he is still fresh.   With an undefeated record (before he met Manny), he definitely has a career ahead of him.

By contrast, the 33-year old Manny had already logged 60 fights, including Sunday’s 17th title fight.  If he were a tire, Manny had already been through a variety of humps and bumps and had logged more mileage than the distance prescribed by its manufacturer.  No, the steel belts are not yet showing but some of its thread are beginning to lose traction.  Manny, like a car however, can only endure so much tire changes as he did bounce back from three previous defeats.

Imagine a 1995-model car still running on the road today.  That is Manny.  Only a few of them are still running, much more still in A-1 condition.  If these are still on the road, either they are special edition or well-maintained by their owners.  Yes, there will be dents and some scratches.  But they will still be reliable rides.

Manny still is.

But there are writings on the wall beyond Manny’s control.

If Vegas can be so cruel as to rob him of a victory even though he is half of the duo that packs in the fans and brings in the money, then some foul smell is in the air.

There were three boxing superstars who came in the era of pay-per-view before Manny.  Mike Tyson, Oscar de la Hoya and arch-rival Floyd Mayweather Jr.  Only Mayweather is still in the mix with Manny.

Tyson and de la Hoya were the kings of PPV events in their prime.   The two still own records of PPV buys in their respective division and are second and first, respectively, in the most number of PPV buys in boxing history.  Pacquiao and Mayweather are not far behind at third and fourth, respectively, depending on which total number of PPV buys you are fed.

Both Tyson and de la Hoya suffered defeats in their careers.  Incidentally, both also lost their first career defeats at the age of 24.  It is easy to understand why they stayed long enough to enjoy their superstar status and rake in millions on the side.

Tyson was the youngest heavyweight champion ever and was a fierce and feared young man by the time he captured his first heavyweight title just two years of after  turning professional and a mind-boggling number of 28 fights in that short span.  De la Hoya was an Olympic gold medal winner and was already a celebrity by the time he turned professional.   He won his first of six division titles in his 12 professional fights, also in a span of two years.

By their standards, de la Hoya and Tyson had superstar status written all over their faces before they could even hit the PPV jackpot.  One was the atypical bad boy while the other was boxing’s golden boy.  Together, they changed the way business is conducted in boxing.

Sadly, both also stayed too long leaving a dent on their otherwise sterling careers.  After boxing, the two went opposite directions, lifestyle-wise.  Tyson would file bankruptcy to fend off creditors.  De la Hoya now continues to be a successful promoter and a big voice in boxing.

What has Tyson and de la Hoya got to do with Manny?

Tyson never figured in a controversial decision, he either won by knockout (well, most of his fights anyway) or he lost convincingly or disgracefully (he once bit Evander Holyfield in the ear out of frustration).   De la Hoya however was in several controversial decisions, as beneficiary in some and at the receiving end in others.

De la Hoya’s controversial losses or victories are however arguably close enough to leave some doubt in nonbelievers.

Manny has been in four controversial decisions, three of them against Juan Manuel Marquez.  But all of them were close enough everyone could argue his case.   But his loss to Bradley was so brazen almost all agree but the two judges who saw his foe the winner not to mention it was before live audiences seen by tens of millions all over the world. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Edwin G. Espejo writes for www.asiancorrespondent.com)