Manny Pacquiao deserves a second chance

Pacquiao is now age 37, well past his prime and eyeing retirement, and having to move on after the disappointing outcome of his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr last year. 

Pacquiao was, at his best, a uniting force for Filipinos around the world. He gave a global face to the Philippines, and was a symbol for the Filipino underdog, a man whose success was neither bought nor inherited. 

Growing up in New Jersey, what people most frequently told me of what they knew of the Philippines was Imelda Marcos and her loaded shoe closet. That was until Pacquiao came along.

When you remember the words which have caused Pacquiao to be reviled in many circles, consider a few of the other things he’s done also. Remember not only how his dominance of iconic boxers like Oscar de la Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Erik Morales brought cheer to boxing fans of all nations.

Remember too, in 2013, when Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) devastated the province of Leyte, and Pacquiao’s fight with Brandon Rios was beamed to evacuation centers, providing fans with a brief escape. To cheer instead of grieve, if only momentarily.

Or when Pacquiao visited the Astrodome in Tacloban City and met with over 1,000 evacuees, one of whom had lost her son and told Inquirer, “His mere presence is more than enough for us to somehow forget that we are victims of Yolanda's mad fury.”

And remember the comfort he gave to Mary Jane Veloso, whose death sentence in Indonesia embodies the struggle that many OFWs face, or how he's championed the fight against human trafficking.

Manny Pacquiao's 2013 fight against Brandon Rios gave survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda gave fans a reason to cheer in the wake of disaster. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA

Manny Pacquiao's 2013 fight against Brandon Rios gave survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda gave fans a reason to cheer in the wake of disaster. Photo by Ritchie B.

Tongo/EPA

Pacquiao made his bed. Just as it took time for people to believe he had truly changed his womanizing and gambling ways, Pacquiao will have to demonstrate through his actions that he respects all people, even if he doesn’t agree with them.

But for what he has meant to the Philippines, and how he has demonstrated what can be accomplished through sheer hard work and dedication, Pacquiao deserves that opportunity.

He's been a hero to many people for a long time, and even in cynical times, that means something.

For now Pacquiao is tasked with maintaining his focus on training, even as a storm of controversy rages over social media. Twenty-one years into his career, he has one final chance to display the boxing ability which made people fall in love with him in the first place.

As the old saying in boxing goes, you’re only as good as your last fight to some. Rappler.com

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at ryan.songalia@rappler.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanSongalia.