We’re all familiar with the refrains from the over-opinionated and under-informed public. Boxing’s a thing of the past.
Too many backroom deals. Too many under-handed promoters and light-fisted fighters. Too much controversy and too little resolution. Too many decisions left to the cards.
The sweet science is in good hands.
In June’s final weekend, Manny Pacquiao served notice to the boxing world that he is not only viable at 135 pounds, but downright vicious. Manny Pacquiao’s reign as the sport’s P4P champion, however brief it may be destined for, will hopefully have a lasting impact on the sport.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has left the game (for now). He was a preening, posturing king. Full of bravado outside the ring, and slippery as a snake inside of it. His maneuvering inside of the ring was too familiar to some. Too much of a reminder of the dirty dealings so often associated with the Tammany Hall-style politicking of the gate keepers of the sweet science.
Manny Pacquiao will never be a better boxer than Money Mayweather. It’s never been remotely close. But I, for one, could care less.
More importantly, he is already a vastly superior champion and ambassador for the sport.
This is crucial because when judgment is passed on boxing, it is not passed on the sport as a whole, but on the top of the game. Mainstream American sports media gives Fistiana a cursory fly-by, like a politician begrudgingly visiting an area they have little interest in, but must visit as a matter of formality.
When a fight like Mayweather/ De La Hoya happens, the action is disappointing, and the mainstream can sleep comfortably with the knowledge that they were right all along. That boxing has nothing to offer in the modern sporting landscape.
That’s all fine and dandy, except we all know that they’re dead wrong. And boxing, a sport that has been cornered into the far reaches of cable television in America, now has a fighter that will punch his way back off the ropes and hopefully back into cultural prominence.
Because this time, when the outside world looks in, they will see something compelling. Something they’ve never seen before. This time the reality series building up to the fight won’t be superior to the bout itself. The world will wonder who this man is? This amalgam of everything the celebrity-obsessed American media dreams of: An indefatigable athlete, an actor, a singer, a hard-liver, a huckster, and a heart-warming rags to riches story rolled into one man.
But none of that matters. All that really matters is that Manny Pacquiao is the most compelling athlete in the world. Not for all of the superficial reasons listed above, but for his performance. He may be a small man, but he is a man of unparalleled passion, ferocity, and determination, competing in a sport catered towards displaying such qualities better than any other sport could ever hope to do. And his style guarantees explosive action nearly every time out.
This is a good thing. Because the world really does await. The world awaits action.
Pac Man represents everything that fight fans know makes boxing better than any other sporting spectacle you can witness. Manny isn’t out there fighting for himself and a contrived, closely-guarded legacy. He is fighting for an entire nation of proud people. This is why his motor in the ring is tops. He’s going for knockouts to glorify the Philippines, not himself.
As TSS’s John Nguyen astutely pointed out, it was refreshing to see the old Manny back in his bout against David Diaz. We had not seem him unleash his vintage fury in recent bouts.
But on June 28th, the eye of the tiger was back. There is no more relentless athlete in the world than Manny Pacquiao. It is apparent when you watch him, that you are witnessing something special. A fighter like Manny Pacquaio can put boxing back in the good graces of the viewing public, and more importantly, of decision-makers with the power to make it more accessible to the public.
The sport is at a crossroads of sorts. As defensive fighters like Mayweather, Winky Wright, and Bernard Hopkins are nearing the end of their careers, a crop of hungry, aggressive young fighters is rising. Manny Pacquiao is hardly young anymore at 29, but he’s sure as hell still in his prime. His pummeling of David Diaz assured us of that.
But still, Pacquiao is a flawed fighter. One of these days, his aggressive style and hard living could cost him in the ring. But that is what makes him the fighter I will tell my grandchildren about. My face will get animated and I’ll fumble for word as I describe the human tornado in the ring. The speed, power, and dogged determination. I can’t think of a better monument to boxing’s appeal than Pac Man.
All hail Manny Pacquiao, the new P4P king.
TSS Universe, who should Pac Man pursue next? What class do you him in in the future?