For the first time, the pambansang kamao has got the nation divided. His fight against Juan Manuel Marquez last Sunday didn’t live up to expectations, and many who have seen the bout swears the El Dinamita should have won.
A front-page story of the Inquirer yesterday quoted Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez as saying that, to the “trained eye”, Pacquiao was the undisputed winner. Ha! To the trained eye my face! It was clear for all to see why Marquez had managed to hound Pacquiao ever since they first clashed in 2004. Marquez was unrelenting, and I think his greatest validation came not in an official declaration of victory, but in the sentiments of the millions who felt the fight should have been at least a draw.
But it’s no puzzle why Pacquiao was still declared the winner. Bob Arum, the organizers—the people in suits who call the shots—they couldn’t have afforded Pacquiao, the “world’s greatest pound-for-pound boxer” losing to someone he already is facing a third time. It would have hurt the promotions. Just look at the odds stacked against Marquez in many sports betting outlets the world over! Pacquiao has also got endorsements in the United States coming up, and imagine what a nightmare it would have been to advertisers if he just lost a match. In short, it would have been bad business to let Pacquiao lose.
Boxing matches, as well as beauty pageants, singing contests, and reality shows, were never solely intended to produce stars and heroes, or to inspire people to “bring out their best.” They were primarily organized to rake in profits! And we fuss about and flock to these major international “spectacles” like they’re all the good that’s left in the world. To the people behind them, however, they are mere cash cows, grand rackets with which they can pay their next lavish summer holiday.
So we cheer on and shout ourselves hoarse as two pugs try their mightiest to disfigure each other’s faces—some of us even paying a fortune to see them live—little knowing that we are also prey to a vicious money-making scheme. And when we don’t like the results we shake our heads and thump our fists as if we have been robbed of all our money. Then we get all giddy anticipating the next fight we can indulge ourselves in. Tell me who the real losers are.
Of course, experts would say that watching boxing and other contact sports, along with them the violence and gore, is even healthy, because it releases pent-up aggression. And because we can’t just punch the next guy on the street—because after thousands of years of evolution, we are supposed to have reined in our savage selves—we pay so we can watch others do it for us. Behold twenty-first-century human ingenuity.
Our boxing fanaticism is here to stay. So long as we’ve got nothing else to show to the world, we will always need an iconic personality from whom we can draw national pride. And Pacquiao as a boxer provides us just that. The gritty world of boxing is also a setting for many similar rags-to-riches stories that the world likes to revel in.
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Certainly Pacquiao would do better to keep out of politics once he has retired from boxing. The last time I checked, Saranggani is still nowhere near becoming Mindanao’s newest economic center (see Kwashiorkor). He shouldn’t try too hard to serve the people. He is already making winners out of others by inspiring them, and with his clout and money, the last thing he needs is a government title attached to his name. Our boxing gyms might even have a better track record of producing winners than our bureaucracy.