Wherever I went today, I’d bump into other people -- complete and perfect strangers -- and we’d look at each other and, without a word, understand. There would be this pained look on our faces. You didn’t need to say word for we were united in our grief after Manny Pacquiao was brutally knocked out by a vengeful Juan Manuel Marquez.
After Pacquiao’s loss to Timothy Bradley, questionable though that may have been, I was very much afraid when Marquez was announced as the next foe. I really believed that the Mexican won their last encounter. But the judges’ decision went against Marquez and, despite his age, I felt that he was fueled by something far greater than any dreams of a championship belt – the need to get revenge.
If there was any tough guy who proved that he could take a licking from Pacman and keep on ticking, it was Marquez. Remember when Manny decked him several times and yet he still got back on his feet? This man was like a pitbull who didn’t know well enough to let go.
Manny made his name feasting on a virtual who’s who of Mexican fighters. How ironic that one of their own could possibly end Pacquiao’s career.
Manny’s resume is filled with spectacular beatdowns and knockouts. Now he knows what Ricky Hatton felt when he felled him.
Like every other Filipino or Pacquiao fan, I, too, felt that punch. Hours, and I mean hours after Manny was defeated, I could still see that haymaker that sent him crumpling to the canvas. I’d read a book and my thoughts would drift back to the fight. I’d eat, and yet somehow the food was so unpalatable. I bought a cup of coffee, my favorite, and yet, it tasted stale. I saw a Mexican restaurant nearby and I wondered about firebombing the joint (I’m kidding here okay so don't get your britches burning).
I watched my alma mater win in football and volleyball again to our respective nemeses and, as great a feeling as they were, somehow it wasn’t complete. The knockout, with all due respect to the victims of the recent typhoon, is just as much a national tragedy.
You see, Manny Pacquiao was ours. He was a true Filipino global icon. The one and only and no one else came close. The stars came out to watch him practice and train. In a time where our country routinely makes the news for being the most corrupt or having the worst airport, he was our shining star. We laughed at his Pidgin English but the truth is, he made us proud. When was the last time someone like him single-handedly lifted our collective consciousness on a global scale?
While living in the United States, when others would find out I was Filipino, Manny Pacquiao was always the icebreaker. Imagine that.
When I think of the knockdown, I think of how many of these great athletes who should have called it a career but did not heed the signs that there was slippage.
The way this has gone for Manny is how I view Michael Jordan. He had it perfect. He began his career with a game-winning jumpshot to win the NCAA title and he ended it with an incredible jumpshot to beat Utah for the Chicago Bulls’ sixth NBA title. But instead it's now getting cut from Laney High School and the Washington Wizards. Who wouldn’t give anything to erase those two years he spent in Washington? Who?
It’s the same with Manny. He should have stopped it after that narrow win against Marquez. But there’s always the lure of “just one more.”
Manny Pacquiao will still go down as one of the greatest boxers in history. His rep might be tarnished some and, maybe in time, it will be forgotten or so we wish.
The sun will rise tomorrow. I’m sure it will be the talk at the office for a day or so as we will try to make sense of what happened. Some will say that he should call it quits or try to get back at Marquez. Maybe even there’ll be some talk about Floyd Mayweather. About Manny still being the People’s Champion.
He still is for me. But damn. My coffee still tastes stale.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.