On Pacquiao’s “Comeback” Bout


TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Manny Pacquiao will challenge Jessie Vargas to regain the WBO Welterweight title Saturday night in Las Vegas (Sunday morning in Manila).

LAST APRIL 10, sports aficionados savored Manny Pacquiao’s “final” bout before his “retirement” after 18 years of professional career with eight world divisions in order to focus as a legislator but it sounds too good to be true as this Sunday, November 6 (Manila time), he will face Jessie Vargas but this time, under a different set-up and situation.

But before that, let’s go back where Pacquiao began briefly.

Pacman’s tale of his tape

Rising professional era

Manny Pacquiao became a professional boxer in 1998 when he earned his first title against Thai Chatchai Sasakul but isn’t much part of our psyche until the turn of the century. Aside from his day job, he earned more from being a TV mainstay on GMA first as a host and then, an actor. He engaged in politics in 2007 in South Cotabato by running as congressman but lost to Darlene Antonino-Custodio.

After fighting the Briton, Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, in 2009, he could no longer do knockout punches in the ring. In 2010, he ran again as a congressman, this time in Sarangani, and won for two terms but his attendance in the plenary was poor. Following his spiritual renewal in the early part of this decade, Pacquiao lost two matches in 2012 but recovered a year after.

In 2014, the Professional Heckler dubbed him as the “Pac of All Trades” as he expanded his side jobs in his resume as a basketball player and coach for Mahindra Enforcers, a preacher and a politician.

The great fall

May 3, 2015 is a date we will never forget. The so-called “Fight of the Century” against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was six years of waiting and in the making but the judges’ decision ended up stunned back at home. Mayweather’s invincible yet controversial victory by unanimous decision triggered the fall of his popularity and the increasing disinterest of his future bouts.

His slip of the tongue last February, during the start of campaign period, that proponents of same-sex marriage and the members of the LGBT community are “worse than animals” — where TV5 was responsible for the clip splice — cost not only the massive unfollowing of his official Twitter account but also withdrawal of sponsorship, such as from Nike.

With that, it compounded the dip on him to box in the ring — assessing that he’s way “past his prime” — many sports fans look forward to Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire, Brian “The Hawaiian Punch” Villoria or Donnie “Ahas” Nietes as his potential successors to bear our flag for professional boxers.

“Last” bout, legal dilemma & Leila de Lima

The April 10 fight against Timothy Bradley for the third time puzzled lawyers and law students; they couldn’t agree if his bout violated the Fair Elections Act (Republic Act 9006). Some of them, who exercised literal interpretation, believed that candidates are not to appear or to guest in any TV and radio programs or to partake as a cast member or to be the main character in any film during the national campaign period other than time-limited campaign advertisements. They didn’t agree if the bout is classified in prohibition of such broadcast.

That legal loophole, which was already committed without Pacquiao’s knowledge, boosted the factor for the masa vote, securing his seat at 7th place of the Magic 12 last May.

After he took the oath as a senator but before the convening of the 17th Congress, Pacquiao transferred from former Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) to the President Duterte’s PDP-LABAN.

Though critics are skeptical about his emulations to happen in the Senate as he did back in the House, the masses cheered upon him on his significant exercise of parliamentary procedure: the motion to knock out his coterminous yet outspoken colleague, Senator Leila de Lima, as chair of Justice Committee on September 19 after the first hearing regarding extrajudicial killings where Edgar Matobato was the star witness.

The fight proper & insight

Moving right along, this main match will determine who will be the WBO World Welterweight Championship.

The Tale of the Tape

At 37, Pacquiao’s pre-fight record shows 58 wins (with 38 knockouts), 6 losses and 2 draws with southpaw stance. Jessie “The New Generation” Vargas, the current title holder, is 11 years younger and 4 1/2 inches taller than Pacquiao. Vargas’ record shows 27 wins (10 KOs) and a loss — where Bradley got the interim title after Mayweather was dishonorably stripped — with an orthodox stance.

Broadcast repertoire

Though long-time international pay-per-view partner HBO declined to cover as they don’t want more than one PPV per month, Top Rank will redistribute to other cable channels. Our local partners, Solar Sports (cable) — with its spanking new identity — and GMA (free to air) — with the consistent ad-overloading ritual — will continue to cover the bout as “The Resurgence.” donaire-magdaleno Nonito Donaire, Pacquiao’s potential successor, will challenge Jessie Magdaleno on the undercard bout.

However, this coming bout will include the undercard super bantamweight bout between Donaire and Jessie Magdaleno. This will add much conflict since Donaire’s matches are usually exclusive to its FTA rival ABS-CBN (through S+A) and are not mentioned on GMA and its newscast — until this fight promotion.

Being pro-inclusive, they could agree with the joint coverage just like in May 2015 but alas, the Turf admits the following instincts that:

  1. More Filipinos are no longer or barely interested in this upcoming bout,
  2. ABS-CBN will lose another episode of ASAP, and
  3. As mentioned for a long time now, hostile broadcast environment.

Other than Donaire, other supporting undercard bouts include under the undoubtedly continuous Solar-GMA package will include:

  • Featherweight bout: Oscar Valdez vs. Hiroshige Osawa
  • Flyweight bout: Zou Shiming vs. Kwanpichit Onesongchaigym

The Turf’s insight

Spectators in Thomas and Mack Center may possibly jeer at Pacquiao not merely because of his slur but as a representative of the country, it might be attributed to our President’s instant, seismic-shifting, semi-isolationist (read: more independent) foreign policy by reconsidering the bilateral relations with the United States for 70 years in different aspects.

Here at home, traditionally, the main roads during his silent were silent and the crime rate was down as they are at homes, business establishments or in public venues watching the live bout. But in his last fight, it wasn’t the case. The traffic conditions come this Sunday will be the cue if this bout prove the rebound of interest or verify the end of his career.

Aside from that, our own Super Bowl (or Ring, in this case) may eventually come to an end as the rival’s counterprogramming will triumph in Kantar’s number cruncher. The challenging special from Mother Ignacia will be the anniversary concert of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano that was held a month ago; it will be shown twice: both on daytime and the encore on late night.

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Photo credits:

  • Pacquiao-Vargas & Donaire-Magdaleno: Boxing Scene

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