Welcome Back To The Ring, Manny!

BY Mike Lynch ON May 29, 2007
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In the ring Manny Pacquiao is an indomitable force. He fights hungry as a desperate amateur and active as a volcano. Check that, actually. I’m no geologist, but I’d bet one would be hard-pressed to find a volcano as prolific as PacMan.

“Polished” would be far from the top of any list of adjectives to describe the people’s P4P champ. “Resilient”, “relentless” and “fearless” are more apt characterizations of the Filipino brawler. He’s a man who pulls off wearing a dated “No Fear” bandana and it somehow seems completely appropriate and devoid of any vomit-inducing VH1-style irony.

Pacquiao is the most electric fighter in one of the oldest bloodsports. But the basest, most vile and oldest domain of derelicts chewed him up and spit him out. The sweet science biz is filled with snakes and opportunists, but nothing attracts the parasitic dregs quite like politics. I am no expert on Filipino stumping, but according to several reports, PacMan was abandoned by the boosters who had made nice with him, while they made off with the campaign ducats. Pacquiao lost his congressional bid and discovered what a nasty sport politics is.

But his loss is our gain.

It is impossible to doubt PacMan’s fight night focus. He has only one objective in the ring: destruction of his opponent through overwhelming pressure and un-wilting energy. But our instincts tell us that PacMan could only go so much further as a boxer if he were to add political responsibilities to his plate---a plate already overflowing with cinematic ambitions and musical aspirations. He’s already proven he can handle it in many ways. But that candle only burns for so long.

On May 29, TSS caught up with his trainer, Freddie Roach, to see where PacMan goes from here.

According to Roach, Pacquiao will be returning to the USA tomorrow, May 30th. He plans to bring his family to Disney Land and Disney World before accepting the Boxing Writer’s Association award for Fighter of the Year on June 8th in New York City.

The following night PacMan will attend the Cotto/Judah card at MSG, where his brother Bobby will be fighting.

At some point this summer Pacquiao will recommence training with Roach in Hollywood. “Manny has told me he’ll be ready to fight by September,” said Roach. “Tentatively we have a date set for the first week of October,” he added. A call to Top Rank confirmed the October date.

Pacquiao recently authored a letter to the WBC passing up his shot at Juan Manuel Marquez, whom Pacquiao fought to a draw in 2004. Why pass?

“He wants to fight Barrera,” said Roach. “That’s the fight everyone wants to see. He’s done a lot of good things since Manny beat him. I’d like to see that fight.”

Obviously, that ignores Barrera’s St. Paddy’s day unanimous decision loss to Marquez, but one of these fights must be made. And there remains a danger that neither will be made. There is enough uncertainty that another Barrera/Marquez bout has been scheduled for September just in case neither is able to fight PacMan in October.

But Pacquiao would prefer Barrera.

The hold-up is the messy matters of law and stubborn bitterness between Top Rank, which represents Pacquiao, and Golden Boy which reps Barrera. It’s on both parties to swallow a little pride and let this fight go off. One could argue that Marquez should get a shot, but either fight would be great for boxing.

Other names in the mix include Joan Guzman and Edwin Valero, but both are clear-cut underdogs at the moment.

But it’s time to get Manny back in the ring. Let him re-focus on what he does best.

Roach echoed the opinion of countless boxing fans with his take on Pac-Man’s future:

“He’s a little down that he lost [the congressional bid], but I think it’s better for his boxing career,” Roach noted. “I told him, ‘I think you can do more for your country as a boxer than you can as a politician.’ It’s just too much to do both.”

Amen.

And at least in the ring the gloves stay on. And the low blows are generally lobbed through the press.

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