BODY AND SOLE: Faded glory

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 27 May) – In years past when he took the sporting world by storm by defeating boxing greats, including Golden Boy Oscar de la Hoya, Manny Pacquiao always kept the Filipinos glued to their TV screens every time he went up the ring. Waiting for his fight was like anticipating the visit of the Pope.

That’s no longer the case after he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez, who in their last fight sent him to dreamland with a thunderous right straight to the face. The loss to Australian Jeff Horn added to perceptions that, indeed, it’s time to hang the gloves.

So, what has motivated Pacquiao to climb the ring again and fight Argentine Lucas Matthysse? Aside from the multi-million purse, he has nothing to gain from this fight. It will only reinforce the belief that this is a purely moneymaking venture, as he is already past his prime, time and age conspiring to take its toll on his power and reflexes. In Bisaya, we’d say “hunahuna na lang ang kusog,” roughly “the strength is only in the mind.”

Pacquiao, who has not scored a knockout in the past couple of fights that he won, has slowed down as shown by the reduced number of punches and sluggishness during his fight with Horn. There was neither fire in his eyes nor fury in his fists. All he did was wait for the whole thing to end and hope the judges would favor him.

In contrast, Mathysse’s youth, bigger built and knockout capability cannot be taken for granted. These are factors that can offset Pacquiao’s experience.

So, again, why does the Pacman, already a legend for becoming the only boxer to hold championship belts in eight different weight divisions, want to fight? For the country’s honor? Excuse me, we have swallowed that crap in his younger years, when former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo tried to use him as deodorizer of her stinking regime.

Every prizefighter does it for the money and personal glory, period. This is what motivated Pacquaio then, this is what motivates him now. The color of money must be too strong to resist even if you already have more than enough to last a hundred lifetimes.

But Pacquiao must remember that his arena is now the Senate of the republic. This is where he should devote his time and effort if he wishes to leave behind a real legacy. He owes that to himself and to the taxpayers. (Body and Sole is the author’s column on sports and fitness. He can be reached at