Manny Pacquiao Meets Dr. Doom
Since his religious awakening, Manny Pacquiao has spent an inordinate amount of time praying for our souls. Lord knows we need it. Most of us fear change, distrust surprise, and cling to threadbare stereotypes. We want our fighters to drink petrol and breathe fire, not invoke Jesus. But the latest news from the Philippines suggests that it might be time for us to do for Manny what he has been doing for us.
A Filipino neurologist has gone public and voiced concern regarding what he believes is Pacquiao’s worsening health. Although this doctor neither knows nor has examined Manny, he says that early signs of Parkinson’s disease are evident.
We need to be wary of doctors who make long distance diagnoses based on what they see on TV. But that wariness, which is called for under the circumstances, needs to extend to boxing as well, assuming it doesn’t extend to boxing already.
President of the Private Hospital Association of the Philippines, Dr. Rustico Jimenez, dropped the bombshell during a radio interview.
“If you ask my opinion,” he said, “maybe it’s time for our national hero Manny to retire. Even though he still shows fast reflexes, I’ve recently noticed—and this is just another view, my personal observation—there are early signs [of Parkinson’s].
“You can see it in the hand movements. It’s usually the hands and not immediately in the head where you can easily see a little twitch. Although I am not seeing this up close, I am seeing there are some early signs.”
Marquez’s recent knockout of Pacquiao was one for the books. CT scans came back negative, but the effect of repeated punches to the head is cumulative. Unless there was internal bleeding, the damage might not reveal itself immediately.
Another Philippine physician, Dr. Raquel Fortun, the so-called “Mother of Philippine Forensic Pathology,” wasn’t as cavalier with her diagnosis. But she too is worried about Manny.
“[The brain] is fragile,” she told ABS-CBN News. “When it gets shook like that, it’s very dangerous. The brain, while it sits in the skull, is not truly fixed to the skull. When the brain jolts, there are broken connections and you get small hemorrhages.”
Their fancy titles aside, we cannot at this far remove determine the credibility of either physician. Nor can we be certain of their motives. Are they publicity seekers? It’s possible, the world is filled with them. Or are they as concerned for Manny as the rest of us?
What we do know is that boxing, however glorious, is ruinous to one’s health. Manny is no Floyd Mayweather. He has been hit and hit many times over the years. Would it come as a shock to learn that he is showing early signs of Parkinson’s? It’s the last thing we want, but we’re realistic and prepared for the worst.
The Empire Strikes Back
Even in the Holy Land, the faux diagnoses of his condition managed to reach Manny Pacquiao.
“There is nothing to worry about,” he assured everyone. “I am 100 percent healthy and right now I’m enjoying this memorable vacation with my family in this beautiful country of Israel. I will return to the Philippines on January 14 and in early February because I want to get to the gym because I want to have a fight in April and in September I want the fifth fight with Marquez.”
Jinkee’s protestations about Manny continuing to fight must have fallen on deaf ears.
“The statements by the doctors show a total lack of ethics and it was irresponsible,” added Pacquiao. “This was just personal opinion and there were no medical tests.”
Drs. Jimenez and Rustico are not quacks, far from it. But they may be too full of themselves to be taken as seriously as they might like.
Not that anyone was expecting Manny to say, “Yes, my hands do sometimes shake.”
Instead he said, “I am doing good. God is good.”