The blood-thirsty Pacman fanatics were surely disappointed Manny was not able to bludgeon Barrera into submission the same way the first two ring gladiators met almost four years ago in what is now the famous Alamodome ambush.
His detractors and critics, on the other hand, pointed to Manny’s eroding power as sign of his deterioration as a feared knockout artist.
Well, those who lusted for blood and gore were, rightly or not, definitely swayed by their blind emotion and adoration of Pacquiao whom they expect to knockout every one that dared cross his path. After all, Manny’s terrible punching prowess and knockout ratio are what made him one of the most exciting fighters in the business today.
What many missed were the stories behind and the future that brings with Manny’s unanimous decision win over Barrera.
Forget about the alleged romantic interlude with Ara Mina and the reported lover’s quarrel with Jinky. They are just spices to his already colored life.
Forget about his spats with several journalists. They are just but products of his earlier sorry episodes with them.
Forget about his election loss. It was just another costly lesson in his attempt to crash into the elite and dirty world of Philippine politics.
My source from the grapevine said Manny was more worried with meeting the 130-lbs weight limit he had to rush back to Manila after barely a week of hitting Los Angeles in August. He had to lose weight fast and what better place to burn those excess poundage than the tropical heat of the Philippines.
After almost emptying his kitty in a failed bid to become a member of the Philippine Congress, Manny has to earn a living off the ring. That is probably why he accepted the movie offer and inked deals with local sponsors during the height of his preparation.
After all, Manny has a very, very big extended family to feed and keep happy.
His lawyer and trusted friend Jeng Gacal admitted that they were also worried the pay per view sales might not hit the target and affect Manny’s total take home pay. Two weeks before the October 6 fight, ticket sales were not as brisk as the Pacquiao-Morales II even though the Mandalay Bay is smaller than the Thomas and Mack Center where Manny fought Morales for the third time.
Manny’s purse was still up in the air when he hurriedly left LA leaving the task of negotiating the final purse figure with Gacal.
Notwithstanding these situations, however, Manny climbed the ring a very confident man although talks about the distractions somehow helped hype the fight.
Suffice to say, the Mandalay Bay was not filled to the rafters, so to speak, because many saw the inevitable – another win for Manny.
Of his performance against Barrera, Manny could not force himself to knockout somebody so unwilling to engage. Like a dance, it takes two to tango.
When Barrera opted to dance away from harm’s way, Manny gave him a dose of his own medicine. By showing he has more to offer than simply bulldozing his way to victory, Manny proved that he too can box with flourish.
Did Manny really box? Of course he did. Not in the way Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard would beautifully float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Manny’s in-and-out darting style is already an art of boxing by itself. Nobody, and that means nobody, in the business today could match Manny’s boxing style. The purists may not agree but his style is entirely his own and that makes him so entertaining.
Wait. Is that uncharacteristic of Manny? Boxing his opponent into victory?
Many should by now realize that the key to longevity in the cruel sport of boxing is not just how one conquers opponents in convincing fashion but how to preserve one’s body as well.
Manny cannot hope to last long in this sport if he will continue to take punches just to land his haymakers.
Look at Rolando Navarette now. The first world champion to emerge from General Santos is not even a shadow of his self. Stricken with Parkinson’s disease undoubtedly caused by too many punches, Navarette now struts while walking and speaks in slur.
Surely, nobody wants to see Manny in that pitiful condition.
Many have criticized Manny for his defense or lack of it.
But not a few of his opponents agree that Manny is one of the hardest opponents to hit precisely because of his speed. Now, that’s boxing.
Ever since he was knocked down by Australian Nadel Hussein at the Ynares Center in Antipolo in 2000, Manny has not tasted the canvass. True, he was hurt more than a couple of fights in the ensuing 18 bouts after that episode but he was never knocked down because he was able to get away from further harm. And that is boxing, for you and for us.
Manny’s time to bow to another young upstart will surely come. Let’s just hope it would not be down in the canvass.
In the meantime, let’s give Manny the chance to cement his spot in the world of boxing greats. Manny still has at least five fights left in him. Let us not rush him to defeat because of our thirst for blood. After all, he had already given us all we could ask for. (Edwin G. Espejo was formerly editor in chief of SunStar General Santos).