“The only thing I focus on is just winning. Once we win, everyone remembers a winner. That’s what I’m focused on.” –Kristaps Porzingis
The only source of pride in sports for the Philippines has been Manny Pacquiao. The 39-year-old senator and part-time pugilist is our World Cup. Everywhere he fights, Pacquiao brings dignity and pride, the same way soccer players are worshiped as demigods by fans from Milan to Guadalajara to Moscow.
In his prime, Pacquiao disposed of rivals from Mexico, Colombia, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Russia, Australia, England, Hawaii, Dominican Republic, South Africa, and Ghana with supreme dominance. If he topples 35-year-old Lucas Martin Matthysse on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Pacquiao will add Argentina to the list.
Filipinos are pinning their hopes on Pacquiao being a one-man wrecking crew against any boxer – only in boxing do we have the opportunity to earn respect and attention from countries that have qualified (and even won) the FIFA World Cup.
The boxer’s popularity even had former promoter Bob Arum calling him “the next president of the Philippines,” the same way Brazil immortalizes Pelé and Argentina hails Diego Maradona.
While the world will be cheering for either France or Croatia in the finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, regardless of who wins, they will not have a direct impact on the pride and glory of a nation. On the other hand, if Matthysse hurts or out-dukes Pacquiao, it will feel like losing a World Cup final anew. The Filipino boxer earlier blew another “World Cup final” when he bowed to Australian Jeff Horn in their World Boxing Organization (WBO) title fight last year – once is enough, twice is a humiliation.
Some Pacquiao fans think he is Superman
Some members of the public complain and cry, “we wuz robbed,” every time someone younger defeats Pacquiao, but we will not tire from reminding boxing fans: Pacquiao has not won via knockout since 2009.
Pacquiao weighed 144 lbs. when he scored a technical knockout against Miguel Cotto, who weighed 145 lbs., in the final round of their WBO welterweight bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States.
Since beating Cotto, Pinoy boxing fans were hoping Pacquiao would continue pulverizing his opponents.
There was a stoppage in his sixth fight following the Cotto bout, but it was Pacquiao who was knocked out cold in the sixth round by Juan Manuel Marquez. Since then, in the boxer’s last seven fights, he has won five (all on points) and lost twice (Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Horn).
After struggling against a patsy Horn, what are his chances against Matthysse, who is arguably better than Horn?/WDJ