MANILA, Philippines – Last November 24, one of this generation’s best boxers returned to the ring after a one year hiatus. He faced off with a young, hungry fighter desperated to make his mark in the sport of boxing.
When Manny Pacquiao put on his gloves once again against 27-year-old up and coming boxer Brandon Rios in Macau, the whole world was watching.
Pacquiao, who has been named Fighter of the Decade, was coming off two consecutive losses. The fight was a must-win for the 8-division world champion, who was trying to prove he is still on top of his game.
One was fighting for redemption, while the other knew a win would have catapulted him to instant stardom. This is Rappler’s coverage of the year’s biggest fight, the second of a three-part mini-series that chronicles Pacquiao’s journey to one of the most important bouts of his life.
MANNY PACQUIAO, WORLD BOXING CHAMPION: Para sa akin kasi boxing is my passion so hanga’t kaya ko lalaban parin ako. Pag nag retiro ako iaanounce ko naman sa lahat at wala nang balikan. Minsan nagiisip din ako, ilang taon na ako ngayon, 35 na ako, next year December, 36 na so lapit na.
(For me, boxing is my passion so until I can I will fight. When I retire, I will announce it to all and there will be no turning back.Sometimes I think, how old am I now? I’ll be 35. Next year, December, I’ll be 36 so retirement is nearing.)
The threat of retirement hung over Manny Pacquiao’s head.
On November 24 his fate was decided by one of the most important fights of his life.
A loss against 27-year-old Mexican-American Brandon Rios would have meant the end.
A win proves Pacquiao is still one of the sport’s best.
After all, there are still legends to beat, history to make.
FREDDIE ROACH, HEAD TRAINER: The thing is his work ethic is great and as long as his work ethic stays in the level it’s at, I think he’ll have a couple more years in him but if the right fights come in the right order, I would say this one, rematch, Mayweather, done.
There are also people to help.
BUBUY FERNANDEZ, ASSISTANT TRAINER: Marami pang mangyayaring malalaking laban kasi yung mga kinikita niya naman, shinishare niya sa mga bata.
(There are still lots of big fights on the horizon because what he earns, he shares with others.)
Something else drives Pacquiao.
He wants to make his country proud. The country he loves, which loves him in return.
MANNY PACQUIAO: Kaya ko pa naman eh, marami pa akong mapapasayang tao at marami pang madadalang karangalan sa bansa natin. (I can still fight. There are still a lot of people I can make happy and I can still bring a lot of honor to our country.)
Yes, it’s a rebound fight coming from two consecutive losses but it’s also a chance to lift the spirits of Filipinos battered by Typhoon Haiyan.
He does exactly that.
November 24 — fight night, finally comes.
Thousands of Filipinos descend upon Macau to rally behind their champion.
They’re domestic workers, overseas filipino workers, celebrities, politicians.
They come to witness his comeback and to cheer not just for him, but for typhoon survivors back home.
JEXEL LUNA, OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKER: Para sa comeback ni Manny kasi marami na nag-doubt sa kanya all over the world. Ngayon papatuanyan natin tayo ang number 1.
(We came to see Manny’s comeback because there are many people who doubt him all over the world now. Now we’ll prove that we are number 1.)
PACQUIAO SUPPORTERS: Knockout para sa Tacloban! Tacloban! (Knockout for Tacloban!)
Pacquiao does not disappoint.
Training pays off as Pacquiao pummels his opponent.
The American is no match to the Filipino’s speed and experience.
Punch by punch he breaks down Rios, methodically, expertly.
With every punch, he raises the spirits of Filipinos.
It’s an easy victory; the message loud and clear.
Manny Pacquiao is back.
PACQUIAO: In the beginning of the fight, I already announced before the fight I would be like the young Manny Pacquiao and show my performance, use my side to side, use my boxing skills. I think I proved it. I’m happy. I’m happy that God gave me the strength.
ROBERT GARCIA, RIOS’ TRAINER: I’m sure everyone had that question: What Pacquiao are we gonna see? And I think we saw the best Pacquiao.
Three months of training, culminates in less than 40 minutes of action.
He unites Filipinos at a time of suffering and reminds them of their resilience.
PACQUIAO: To all my kababayan, maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Like what i said, this fight is for you especially for those people and families affected by the typhoon. I’m very happy that God answered my prayer.
It’s a curious contrast: A man with a soft heart, who beats people up for a living.
This man who rose from the slums of General Santos City to boxing’s biggest stage wants to be remembered, not as a boxing legend, but as a good man.
PACQUIAO: Gusto kong maalala ako bilang matulungin na tao, mabait, masunurin sa Panginoon, at maging halimbawa sa mga next generations. (I want to be remembered for being helpful, kind and God-fearing. I want to be good role model for the next generations.)
Script and narration by Natashya Gutierrez
Video by Adrian Portugal
Editing by Jom Tolentino and Exxon Ruebe
WATCH THE FIRST TWO PARTS:
- Rios fight is make or break for Pacquiao
- Pacquiao-Rios: Who will be the comeback king?
- For Rios, Pacquiao is ripe for the taking
- Climb back to top begins for Pacquiao in hometown
- IN PHOTOS: Pacquiao begins training for Rios
- VLOG: Roach says Pacquiao hasn’t missed a step
- Roach: ‘Rios fight is personal’
- Is Manny Pacquiao back?
- Pacquiao: I can still fight
- Is Rios just what the doctor ordered for Pacquiao
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