Column: Even though Mayweather would win

Published on April 15, 2014.

The undefeated Floyd Mayweather has an excellent reason to finally agree to a hundred-million-dollar fight with Manny Pacquiao: The odds are he would win. And Pacquiao has an additional reason to want the fight: The risk of losing is high.

Let me offer a Pacman fan’s explanation.

Watching Pacquiao craft a convincing win over a toughened, much improved Timothy Bradley the other day, I came away with contrasting thoughts: How good Pacquiao still was, and how he was no longer the same.

Sportswriters and boxing bloggers I follow said much the same thing. Scott Christ of Bad Left Hook: “Time may slow him down, but no more than it does any man. And with Pacquiao, he’s so good that time has only taken him from otherworldly to great.” Gary Andrew Poole, writing in Esquire: “The punching flurries were not in the crazy multiples that had once shot from his fists, but they were still impressive. The quick, lateral movements were not quite like they used to be, but he slipped under and away from Bradley’s haymakers.” Kevin Iole, of Yahoo: “This was most definitely not the 2008-09 vintage Pacquiao, who stopped a series of the greatest fighters in the world in devastating fashion. But Pacquiao boxed smartly, catching Bradley and then spinning away out of danger.”

All these and more lead me to share Greg Bishop’s conclusion, in a piece he wrote for Sports Illustrated: “I like 2009 Pacquiao’s chances against Mayweather. The Pacquiao of 2014? Not so much.”

I have been a boxing fan since Muhammad Ali stunned George Foreman in 1974, in the so-called Rumble in the Jungle; I am also among the many who consider Manny Pacquiao an all-time great, among the very best in history. I have followed his fights since 2001, and had the chance to cover his training camp in February 2005, when he was preparing to meet the fearsome Erik Morales for the first time. In Pacman, we have the complete package: raw power, dizzying speed, incredible stamina, ring discipline, once-in-a-lifetime talent, a warrior’s heart.

Watching Pacquiao handle Bradley the second time around, however, I couldn’t help notice the vulnerabilities that Mayweather would have exploited: Pacman’s lunges, which leave him open; Pacman’s defense, which was up perhaps only half of the time (it is telling that the new champion said he was heeding his corner’s instructions to keep his hands up especially in the second half of the fight); not least, Pacman’s continuing struggle with counter-punchers. I can imagine Mayweather taking a look and thinking, I’m going to treat Pacquiao the way I treated Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009: like a toy.

Pacquiao would be thinking the exact opposite: I may lose, but I’m here to fight. Unlike Mayweather, Pacquiao has never ducked anyone. That is one more reason why Pacman has his fans.

* * *

My thanks to author Ricco Alejandro Santos, who wrote a thoughtful letter to the editor taking issue with the “main contentions” of a column I wrote on “The irrelevance of the Left.” He challenged me to “a friendly, constructive and healthy debate or dialogue”—unfortunately, it was to a debate or dialogue “on the points raised in these three books” [that is, the “three Marxist or partly-Marxism-informed books” he himself had written]. He may have been merely, and only momentarily, inattentive, but he seems to have missed the fact that the terms of his challenge were stacked in his favor. So we are to have a debate or dialogue on his three books? That’s not a challenge, but rationalization in search of a forum.

Besides, the passage about whether Karl Marx continues to be relevant to the Philippines was secondary; my point was that the looming irrelevance of the National Democratic Front and its allies can be understood according to an unclassical trivium: “loopy logic,” anti-Aquino grammar, fill-in-the-blanks rhetoric.

* * *

I wish to thank Dr. Pepe Abueva too, who responded to a previous column questioning the basis for a “Fifth Philippine Republic” with an incisive commentary asserting that, “in our view and in fact, we only have one Republic of the Philippines. It began on July 4, 1946.”

There is much to recommend in his opinion; I have certainly learned from it. But I must question his insistence on international recognition as a criterion (even the determining criterion) of what it takes to be a republic.

He writes: “Under Japanese occupation and sponsorship, Jose P. Laurel led a supposedly independent Republic of the Philippines under a new Constitution (1942-1944). Militarily occupied and ruled by a foreign power, the Japanese-sponsored Philippine Republic was illegitimate. Sometimes called a ‘puppet republic,’ it could not properly be viewed as ‘the Second Republic of the Philippines.’ A republic is a sovereign democratic state that enjoys international recognition.”

I agree with the entire argument, except for the premise the esteemed professor attaches at the end. Much as I look up to Laurel as a genuine nationalist, I think he should be stricken off our list of presidents. But it is inaccurate to suggest that the “illegitimate” Second Republic did not enjoy international recognition: It was recognized by Burma (then under Japanese control), as well as by Japan, and I presume the other Axis powers.

As for the Revolution: Even if we failed to win recognition from Japan and Germany (ah, the irony of it), the First Philippine Republic was a real, functioning thing. If it was good enough for Apolinario Mabini, it should be good enough for me.

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Filed under Newsstand: Column, Readings in Politics

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