Now I don’t often write about sports, in fact, I’m the type that enjoys quietly from the sidelines, but even Fenrir the Neutral-On-Most-Everything cannot let this outcome slide without comment.
To those of you not in the know, last night was the scheduled boxing fight between Manny Pacquiao — the defunct hero of the Philippines whose rags-to-riches story and his winning streak has won the hearts of not only his countrymen but the boxing world– and Timothy Bradley, an (as of now) undefeated American boxer. Manny’s loss to Bradley has ended his decade’s long dominance in the boxing world, but for fans this loss leaves a bitter taste, because if my Facebook newsfeed and tumblr dashboard was any indication, not many people believe Bradley won fairly.
I’ll be honest, I missed out on the fight (And the subsequent boxing party, where my parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered together over good food and cold beers), but figured that the Pacman would bring back home another win and my parents would regale me with the story. As I said before, he is a national hero, and for Filipino expats there is no greater event than gathering together to watch their champion blaze a path of glory on a world stage. At the same time, on the other side of the world, families and friends “back home” are also gathered around personal TVs or even town projector screens so that everyone — and I mean everyone — can watch Manny win.
Because (For better or for worse) he is the embodiment of the “little guy” taking on bigger fish, from different, stronger countries, and winning.
So yes, Pacquiao is a big deal, a symbol for Filipinos that no we’re not just your day laborers, or your maids, or your nurses, we can and we will succeed.
But I digress, all personal, national, and mushy feelings about the Pacman and his cultural significance aside, he shined last night. It wasn’t a KO, but he gave it his all and fought so hard, that by the end of it when the judges called it Bradley’s win, even he had to ask if he could watch the tape again because he didn’t believe he won.
Neither did Manny believe he lost, but he “respected the decision” even though he “100% believed he won the fight”.
So did a good majority of the viewers of last night’s match. A few friends jokingly called for a riot at the nearest Jolibee’s (Another national symbol that serves really good fried chicken), while others have even deadpanned that “boxing is dead”.
Now that is a harsh statement to make, and while the loss of a national hero is a hard blow for the fans, it might be a stretch to say that the integrity of a whole sport is dead…
… Okay who am I kidding.
We may be caught up in some ideal of boxing ala Muhammad Ali (I know I am), but the truth of it is, this match is gearing up for something else entirely: a rematch. And a rematch means another pay-per-view Saturday night, which means that HBO is getting more money as angry fans tune in again to make sure that, this time, their hero wins.
And hey, since he finally lost, maybe he can finally have that match with Mayweather that everyone clamored for a few years back.
Either way, while the numbers just don’t add up ringside, it’s clear that we can expect a rematch, and HBO can expect more money in their pocket. One day later people are still numb, irritated even by the results, but let’s not lose heart.
Manny hasn’t, and he even left his fans with his own “food-for-thought” on the whole issue:
“The best attitude is respect and professionalism. I hope this dismay doesn’t cause people to discard the sport. I’m still here. I can fight.”
Well-said Pacman, well-said.