Time to move on from Pacquiao-Horn

HONG KONG – It’s time to move on, people.

It’s time to leave behind the decision that was Manny Pacquiao vs Jeff Horn – the Battle of Brisbane has been fought, and it has been decided.

You didn't need CompuBox to tell you that Pacquiao was doing the cleaner punching. Was it the worst decision ever? Definitely not. Spare a thought for Randy Petalcorin, the Davaoeño who was truly robbed a year ago in Australia. Now THAT fight deserved an investigation.

Boxing giveth, and boxing taketh away. 

The sport has provided Pacquiao more than he could have ever dreamed of, and he’s been an inspiration for many in his country and sport. After 22 years in the ring, Pacquiao knows how to roll with the punches better than anyone.

The World Boxing Organization, which sanctioned the fight for its welterweight title, says it will rescore the fight with a panel of judges but has no power to change the verdict. If it didn’t make you feel better when they did the same in 2012 following the first Timothy Bradley Jr fight, it won’t make you feel much better this time.

Give Horn credit for exceeding expectations, fighting bravely through a swollen, sliced right eye. Few expected him to be standing at the final bell after being beaten around the ring in the ninth. He did everything humanly possible to give himself a chance. He entered to “Seven Nation Army,” and he was as determined as those lyrics suggested not to be held back.

Horn was classy in the build-up to the fight, when trolls sent him expletive-laden mockery and told him he’d get smashed. And he’s been classy even as trolls insult him, his country, and his pregnant wife. He’s an athlete, but he’s also a man with a mortgage to pay, a 2005 Toyota Camry he wants to upgrade, and a child on the way. 

Horn absorbed and delivered the punches. He didn’t fill out the scorecards.

Should Pacquiao feel the desire to to give it one last go like Muhammad Ali did in the rematch with Leon Spinks in 1978, that’s his call. Horn’s camp seems enthusiastic for a rematch, and Pacquiao has the right to dictate how his career proceeds.

If not, that’s fine as well. Pacquiao has nothing left to prove. He could ride off into retirement without a single regret. Whether he won or lost this fight never had any bearing on his legacy.

When his wounds heal and his emotions subside, he can reflect on what he wants to do next.

A 38-year-old fighter should consider himself lucky if a disputed decision is the worst that befalls him. The treatment of other greats at the end has been far more ignominious.

For those who have proclaimed the demise of boxing, but only watch when their favorite boxer fights, please sit down. Hopefully you can find a replica of the white lawn chairs which scattered the pitch of Suncorp Stadium. They’re deceptively comfortable. 

For those who criticize Mark Nelson’s “I’m here to protect you” line, may I invite you to watch more boxing. The referee’s job is to protect the fighters, first and foremost. Singling out that moment as if it proves collusion only makes the poster look ignorant. 

Could Pacquiao do better in a rematch? Possibly, if he can get up for another all-out training camp. But he’d be close to or past 39 by the time that fight happens. In rematches, history tends to favor the younger fighter.

We’re now in the era of Pacquiao’s career where Ali was post-Thrilla in Manila (READ: That time has come, Manny Pacquiao)

The Pacquiao we saw light up Oscar de la Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Erik Morales did not enter the ring last weekend. His hands were less busy, his stamina diminished. His feet, slightly slower, make it harder to avoid the rushes of larger foes, and to cut down the ring.

The last thing that will go on Pacquiao is his fighter’s heart. That has always been his greatest asset as a fighter, and his pride won’t allow that to be compromised.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte summed it up for Senator Pacquiao upon his return to the country: “Weather-weather lang ang buhay,” a Filipino saying that the fortunes of life change like the weather.

There’s plenty of room to disagree with the decision. But it’s time to move on. – Rappler.com