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Philippine Sports

  1. Pacquiao: Time to Retire

    A part of the Filipino pride in me was badly bruised when world boxing icon Manny Pacquiao was knocked out cold by his Mexican arch nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez seconds before the end of the sixth round of their fourth meeting in the ring yesterday afternoon (Manila time) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    The solid blow to his neck, which came at the 2:58 mark of the sixth round of the 12-round non-title bout, could be termed as a “lucky punch.” Yet it was a punch that wrecked thousands of Filipino ships and was so loud that it was heard by millions of people around the world.

    The blow broke the hearts of the heroes-challenged Filipino nation as a whole. To me, Pacquiao’s debacle was as devastating as the one the Pinoys felt when martyred Ninoy Aquino was mercilessly slain at the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983.

    After five rounds, Pacquiao was slightly ahead in the score sheets of the three judges, 47-46, and became more aggressive in search for an early stoppage till the late stages of the sixth when he was stunned by that hard punch to his neck (where some sensitive nerves are located) in the final seconds of the round. The blow was so strong – perhaps even stronger than in scale than the earthquake that shook Japan Friday afternoon – that Pacquiao kissed the canvas, falling like a log and laying motionless for nearly 30 seconds. There were unsubstantiated reports that Pacman lost his consciousness during the time.

    This fourth meeting between Pacquiao and Marquez in the last eight years was decisively in favor of the 5-foot-7, 39-year-old warrior from Mexico City after three previous confrontations were deemed “inconclusive,” at least from the viewpoint of the Doubting Thomases like JMM, who even claimed that he had won all three regardless what the judges’ scores showed. (Officially, the results from the three previous encounters were 2-0-1 win-loss-draw in favor of the 5-foot-6 Filipino icon. Pacquiao won via a split decision in their third meeting on November 12, 2011, which Marquez showed much disgust and hinted at retirement.)

    Yesterday, bereft of any controversy, a bloodied JMM beat Pacquiao fair and square in their fourth bout.

    Leading to Pacquiao’s second consecutive setback, coming as it was after a controversy-filled 12-round split decision loss to unbeaten American challenger Timothy Bradley also at the MGM Grand Garden Arena last June 9 that forced Pacquiao to surrenderd his World Boxing Organization welterweight title in the process, there were already telltale signs that Marquez might just upset the odds and beat the Pacman.

    For the first time in his career, Marquez was able to deck Pacquiao in the third round. It was the first time that Pacquiao had kissed the floor since since September 17, 1999 by Thai challenger Medgoen Lukchaopormasak in the second defense of his World Boxing Council flyweight crown in Thailand . Even before the fight, Pacman was already stripped of his title for failing to meet the weight limit. The Pacman was knocked down several times during the fight before being KOed in three rounds.

    Pacquiao got back by also knocking down Maruez in the fifth round (his fifth overall – thrice in 2004 and once in 200 to regain the upperhand in the judges score cards.

    Then came the fatal sixth round when Pacquiao was caught by a lucky punch and suffered his first KO loss since that September 17, 1999 debacle.

    Pacquiao, who turns 34 on December 17, wore a T-shirt with the words “Finished Business” and I thought he was hinting at retirement. Then in a post-fight interview, he declared he would fight again (after some rest, actually compulsory since there is a boxing rule that a fighter must take a vacation, as long as six months, once he suffers a KO).

    My unsolicited advice, which I gave out as early as last year, is for Pacquiao to now hang up his gloves. Sure he has a contract with Top rank promoter Bob Arum until 2014, but Mommy Dionesia’s plea (for him to retire) must not go unheeded either. After Pacquiao’s stunning loss to Marquez, Dionesia appeared on local television to blame his son’s loss to his conversion to another religion and asked Arum to stop acting like a slave master in continuing to promote Pacquiao fights, saying “Hindi hayop ang anak ko, tao siya.”

    No more Pacquiao-Marquez V please. Pacquiao should quit when the quitting still is good. At the moment, he has not suffered any major injuries – which is very, very good. But why wait till one suffers a debilitating injury before calling it quits. I shudder to think the case of all-time boxing great Muhammad Ali, who now suffers from Parkinson’s disease due to the various blows he had taken to his body and head throughout his colorful career in the 1960s and 1970s.

  2. Clamor Getting Stronger for MVP to Run as POC Prexy

    The clamor to convince telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan to vie for the presidency of thePhilippine Olympic Committee is reportedly gaining ground fast among a big number of National Sports Associations.

    And the snowballing effort to persuade Pangilinan to give the critical matter a second thought, a source inside the MVP group said, has prompted serious reconsideration from the president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and chairman of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines.

    The source said that some NSA leaders have assured the business bigwig that a cursory head count shows him ahead, “and many of those on the fence have indicated they will support MVP should he declare himself available” for the post.

    “MVP is slowly feeling the pressure to take on the responsibility of going for the presidency,” the insider said. “He is already currently into several sports disciplines as benefactor so it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to imagine him taking on a bigger challenge. But no decisions have been made yet.”

    POC president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco, who is seeking a third term in the Nov. 30 elections, has earlier offered Pangilinan the position of POC chairman in a power-sharing scheme, but the top honcho at PLDT and Smart Communications politely declined the overture, telling sportswriters during the recent FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup in Tokyo that he “wouldn’t have the time.”

    The growing clamor could change all that.

    Manny Lopez, first vice president of the POC, has been bruited as a potential challenger to Cojuangco, but he could only do so, according to the POC charter, as an NSA president and not as secretary-general of the handball association, the post he now holds.

    To remedy that, earlier reports said Lopez is looking to reclaim his former ABAP post now held by Maynilad Water president Ricky Vargas, a close corporate ally of Pangilinan.

    It is not likely though that Vargas, who will be seeking his own fresh mandate during an ABAP general assembly meeting on Oct. 20 in Bago City, Negros Occidental preceding a regional tournament there, would relinquish his post, especially in light of the plea for a Pangilinan presidency in the POC.

    The source said a win-win solution would be for Cojuangco, a former veteran Tarlac representative, to step aside, having made his mark in the eight years he had sat as head of the country’s overall sports program, and give way to somebody else.

    “That could clear the way for MVP,” the source said. “And it would be a perfect scenario, him running unopposed which would show Philippine sports is ready for unity and development.”

    Cojuangco, however, has shown no indication of any plans other than to seek reelection, igniting the clarion call for Pangilinan to step into the plate and take a swing at the POC presidency.
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