Pacquiao, the beginning of the end

Edward Dalusong III
All the ingredients of a gradual descent are showing up and some signs are here.

Rappler features this contribution from a writer based in the United States. It’s his take on the upcoming fight between boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. Unlike many who foresee a victory tomorrow, Sunday, Manila time, he sees the start of Pacquiao’s decline. Do you agree? Share your thoughts with us!

We’ve all seen it happen to all the great athletes, Michael Jordan had to retire, Muhammad Ali had to hang up the gloves and Wayne Gretzky had to leave the ice.

As I write this little piece a day before Manny Pacquiao heads for the ring in Vegas to fight Tim Bradley, I found myself watching the now iconic 24/7 series that HBO sports dishes out 3 weeks before fight night to hype up a pay per view event.

And folks, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but whether we like it or not, I truly believe the fat lady is knocking on the door.

Don’t get me wrong, everything points to a Pacquiao victory on Saturday and one has got to be a real gambler to put his money on Bradley. But all the ingredients of a gradual descent are showing up and some signs are here. Let me enumerate and tell me if you’ve seen this movie before.

Infighting within Team Pacquiao. I don’t know if I just missed it in the papers, but not much is being said about the ongoing feud between Freddie Roach and trainer Alex Ariza. This storyline has been featured prominently in the HBO 24/7 series and it won’t take a genius to conclude that all is not well in the wildcard gym. Poor Manny is obviously caught in the middle of this one and we could say that this could be a great excuse if Bradley manages to pull off the upset. Obviously I am not privy to their personal lives but I believe based on their tv interviews together that any Jinkee distractions can be dismissed at this point.

Manny had gone on too religious. Ok call me a cynic, but the moment I saw Manny praying hard with that guy Jeric Soriano, first thing out of my mouth was “oh no.” A myriad of questions quickly went through my mind. Is this for real? How will this affect how he fights? The anger and grit that he showed particularly during the Morales fights until that Cotto bout, will that remain?

Is this guy Soriano just using him for whatever? Will all the bible studies alter his mindset on how he approaches fights and how he proceeds to annihilate an opponent inside the ring? Will he become soft? In my opinion, he started becoming soft the moment I notice him hold back on Oscar Dela Hoya, and don’t even get me started on that high-fiving before the round lovefest he had with Shane Mosley.

Brought kids to the fight. Manny Pacquiao is a creature of habit and very superstitious. He stays in the same apartment in Hollywood even though he owns a far more luxurious house in the area. He loves hanging out and jokes around with the boys, eats at the same restaurants, does not fail to visit Jimmy Kimmel, refuses to take the private jet to Vegas.

Up until now he has refused to bring family to training camp to enable him to focus on the job at hand. Well we can forget about that now, the whole family is here to take in the fight. I know it’s not the greatest tragedy in the world (Manny deciding to have more family time), but what does it say about how he approached fights then and now? Could it be that he now realizes that there are far more greater things in life than fully concentrating on a boxing match?

Entourage has grown too much. I just saw a replay of Manny’s first fight against Marco Barrera. He was obviously younger and leaner, you could still decipher Freddie Roach’s words in between rounds and even Boboy Fernandez was thinner. But the most glaring difference between that fight and now is the entourage.

I do not think I’m alone when I say that I cringe whenever I see that big entourage that goes up the ring with Manny on fight nights. We all know that most of them are just there to ride on his coat tails, I don’t think Freddie Roach needs any  assistance from these guys, and most of those characters won’t be there for him when he finally hangs it up. Thank goodness he has enough money to take care of a few generations of Pacquiaos, but we still remember what happened to our other boxing heroes who didn’t quite earn the same amount of riches that Manny Pacquiao did.

One can only hope that Manny is so thick that he doesn’t realize the changes around him. But the signs I described above are really happening and are flipping the scripts rather quickly.

Manny Pacquiao has brought us great pride worldwide. He is the only Filipino athlete I know who has enjoyed instant recognition anywhere his name is mentioned.

My friends and I often kid one another about how Pacquiao affects even us. Pacquiao fights are always a good reason to hold a mini-reunion in Las Vegas and enjoy a great weekend for the boys. He comes into the US and brings families and friends from far and wide to gather around and watch him fight. He does it twice a year and for the past few years has given us all countless joys because he always won!

I still believe he’ll be the victor this weekend. But sad to say, Mr Inevitable is about to enter the ring. –

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