Another season, sunshine hid by a rainy day
Rainbows dancing in my thoughts afar
If there’s a reason that leaves leave green and then fly away
I told my master hollow is my heart
Manny Pacquiao has left the building. I thought he beat Yordenis Ugas, in what will go down as an ignominious end to the most enigmatic ring career the world will ever know. He never cheated us in the ring, even if the powers that be cheated him. He did not lose to Timothy Bradley in June 2012 no more than he lost to Jeff Horn in July 2017, but that’s neither here nor there. He’d long since chosen politics to understand both who and what he was dealing with.
I’ll never forget the butterflies in my stomach before a Pacquiao fight. That thrill of the unexpected merged with the promise of something great. You never had buyers remorse after pressing buy on a Pac-Man PPV (that is unless you bought that May 2, 2015 superfright with a reluctant Floyd Mayweather). There will always be an asterisk placed next to that showdown with Mayweather, as it occurred 5 years and one questionable right arm too late. It says here that the Pac-Man from circa 2010 stops Mayweather in an absolute thriller. As it was, the fight was doomed by Floyd’s apprehension, for what he knew was a stylistic nightmare.
Pacquiao’s was a career that will age better with time, as his 8 division world championships will never be duplicated or matched. He is now on track to become president of the Philippines, an incredible feat when one considers his lack of education. His run as congressman and senator occurred during his athletic peak, which goes to the indefatigable nature of a man who knows no bounds.
His union with wife Jinkee, above, lady in red, is as solid as its ever been, we can expect Pacquiao to continue on the world stage as the ultimate humanitarian, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Muhammad Ali. He’ll do this even at the risk of assassination, for peace threatens war. To say that he may end up a better man than a fighter speaks volumes to the human being that he is.
I’ll remember Pacquiao for his efforts to get the most out of himself. He couldn’t sing, but that never stopped him from appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live and getting away with it.
He burned the candle at both ends; selling God and Hennessey at the same time.
He partied like a rock star; turning the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles into a celebrity destination with screaming fans.
His workouts with PacMan the dog were legend, where he stretched the limits of the tireless animal’s endurance. He was your favorite fighter’s favorite fighter, an all action medley of speed, power and athleticism with uncanny shot making ability from the southpaw stance.
His best defense was his best offense; his light feet guided by massive calf muscles and a rare skeletal frame that included 8 1/2 inch wrists. Your average heavyweight has 7 1/2 inch wrists.
We’ll remember him for the spectacular HBO debut against Lehlo Ledwaba, where Jim Lampley couldn’t pronounce his name and Larry Merchant not knowing who in the hell he was.
His destruction of Marco Antonio Barrera. The trilogy with Erik Morales and the saga with Juan Manuel Marquez. The damn near decapitation of Ricky Hatton and the bombing of Miguel Cotto, followed by the desecration of Antonio Margarito. All of which was proceeded by the silencing of Oscar De La Hoya.
Floyd Mayweather was wise to avoid this Pacquiao, who would end his career promoted by Al Haymon after spending the majority of his time under Bob Arum. His last great performance against Keith Thurman (after which he should’ve actually retired) will live on for the ages, as he defeated an unbeaten world champion in his absolute prime beyond the age of 40.
Pacquiao was not without his share of controversy. He had a wild streak around the filming of his movie “Wapakman”, where he became embroiled in an affair with his co-star. He would be served divorce papers in the dressing room just prior to his third bout with Marquez.
The wild nights of partying as a new Filipino congressman; he had an indifferent sitdown with Barack Obama, with whom he had differences with, especially as it related to the LGBTQ Community. Pacquiao would lose millions in endorsements, as giants such as Nike abandoned him on the heels of stating that homosexuals were “worse than animals”.
In some circles this influenced the judging of his first fight with Timothy Bradley, a fight Pacquiao clearly won, and the fourth fight with Marquez.
No shortage of journalists knew Marquez was an enhanced version of himself, who in 36 previous rounds with Pacquiao was unable to put him on the canvas. Compare this Marquez to the one opposite Floyd Mayweather in September 2009 and the difference is night and day.
Still, for all the filibusters and caveats one can muster, you’d be hard pressed to find a more daunting and more daring fighter than Manny Pacquiao, who came along just in time to fill the hole left by Mike Tyson.
And for all of the world champions Freddie Roach has been associated with, none were bigger than Pacquiao, with whom he’ll always be inexorably linked. And so it is so long Pac-Man, and may the fight gods continue to be with you.
You will be missed.