Pacquiao-Rios: Made in China
Not to worry. A diamond in a rhinestone world, Pacquiao has more options than Miss America after last call at a bachelor party…
Confucius say, war doesn’t determine who is right, war determines who is left.
Manny Pacquiao is currently the world’s second highest paid professional athlete, comfortably sandwiched between #1 Floyd Mayweather and #3 Tiger Woods. Of note, he is also a true renaissance man; politician, actor, recording artist and eight-division world boxing champion (in that order). Pushing age 35, Pacquiao is no longer a Filipino typhoon, having long-since secured his niche in boxing history, while attaining such fistic stature in a sport that now needs him more than he needs it. Such men have greater fish to fry on their career trajectories, ones that far transcend athletic competition. As measured by sheer accomplishments, look for Pac-Man to be among the select few professional athletes whose better days lie ahead of them.
As for champions, every time a man wins, it diminishes the fear of losing in him a bit, sating both his hunger and rabid desire for victory by degrees, almost imperceptibly. While fear is the common man’s enemy, it is a boxer’s best friend, his psychic testosterone. A fighter’s ego, identity and motivation all thrive on it—for a season. Doubters need only ask Mike Tyson. For a consistently victorious athlete, particularly a boxer of Pacquiao’s caliber, male menopause inevitably creeps in. Like the warming of a room or the coming of daylight, it begins before an athlete starts to notice it. Says here the Mexicutioner is beginning to feel it, bravado, resolve and determination notwithstanding.
In addition, having been soundly flattened in his very last bout has greatly diminished Pac-Man’s aura of invincibility, dimming the “pound-for-pound-best” luster off his championship hardware. Despite denials to the contrary emerging from the Pacquiao camp, this boxer has been smartly reading the handwriting on his gym wall for some time. Of late, even his shadow-boxing silhouette has been a tad slow on the uptake. And the stringent training grind has to be feeling more like a sado-masochistic regimen with each passing bout. Says here the guy is too smart, too versatile and too sought-after not to be having second thoughts about the wisdom of continuing his ring career much longer. Not to worry. A diamond in a rhinestone world, Pacquiao has more options than Miss America after last call at a bachelor party.
Will he bounce back after the Marquez thunder-punch? I think so. In the way a late model car takes to the road after a head-on collision following major reconstructive surgery in the body shop. The thing starts, looks great, accelerates and drives all-right, but in taking to the road it never quite handles the same, if you get my drift. Following a KO, how many champions look the same on the before-and-after photos in the domination, intimidation, or the piss-and-vinegar departments?
Nonetheless, as Pacquiao has a lot to prove—to himself first, and then to his fans and detractors—-his pride, heart, conditioning and skills should carry him past his upcoming opponent, Brandon Rios. Call this one a “recovery” bout, one between two winners trying to shake their recent losing ways after falling off the wagon—saving face, while soberly averting a major career setback.
As there are horses for courses, look for Rios’s style to complement Pac-Man’s in-and-out quickness perfectly, allowing the latter to surgically out-point his younger, slower opponent handily, with the slug-fest going the distance. The fight takes place in China in the early morning hours, their time, and in Pacquiao’s time-zone. Perhaps an omen, one that may find Rios also dancing to Manny’s tune—“nothing could be finer than to fight in Macau, China in the m-o-o-o-r-ning.”
Two tigers cannot share one mountain, says the Chinese proverb. So we’ll sooner discover what this fortune-cookie has in store for both warriors.
In the phase-of-life context where Pacquiao now finds himself, a loss against Rios would surely be painful, but not as painful as knowing there was something else you could or should be doing instead.