“The only thing I focus on is just winning. Once we win, everyone remembers a winner. That’s what I’m focused on.” –Kristaps Porzingis
By Alex P. Vidal
ARLINGTON, Virginia — The only source of our pride in sports has been Manny Pacquiao.
The 39-year-old senator and part-time pugilist is our own version of World Cup.
Everywhere he fights, Pacquiao brings with him our dignity and pride, just like the soccer players worshiped like demigods in FIFA football fields from Milan to Guadalajara and Moscow.
During his prime, Pacquiao disposed of rivals from Mexico, Colombia, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Russia, Australia, England, Hawaii, Dominican Republic, and Africa with supreme dominance.
If he topples Lucas Martin Matthysse, 35, on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Pacquiao will add Argentina on the list of those countries.
Filipinos pin their hopes on Pacquiao as a one-man wrecking crew against any boxer from superpower countries.
Only in boxing can we have an opportunity to gain the respect and attention from countries that have qualified and even won the FIFA World Cup since the pre-war era.
Pacquiao is so immensely popular that his former promoter Bob Arum considered him as “the next president of the Philippines” just like how Brazil immortalized Pele and Argentina hailed Diego Maradona.
We cheer for either France or Croatia, finalists in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, but whoever wins on Sunday in Moscow will not have a direct impact on our pride and glory as a nation.
Both Croatia and France have big followers in every Filipino community worldwide.
On the other hand, if Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) will hurt and out-duke Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) for the 12-round WBA welterweight title, it’s like losing a World Cup final anew.
Pacquiao also blew away another “World Cup final” when he bowed to Jeff Horn via 12-round unanimous decision for WBO 147-lb title in Sydney, Australia on July 2, 2017.
Once is enough. Twice is a humiliation.
We won’t get tired though of reminding boxing fans in the Philippines that Pacquiao has not won a knockout since 2009.
Some Pacquiao fans think the boxer is a Superman.
They complained and cried “we wuz robbed” each time someone who is younger defeated him.
Pacquiao weighed 144 lbs when he scored a technical knockout (TKO) against Miguel Angel Cotto, 145 lbs, at 0:55 in the final stanza of the 12-round WBO welterweight war at he MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 14, 2009.
Since beating Cotto, Pinoy boxing fans were hoping that Pacquiao would again pulverize his opponents.
There was a stoppage in his sixth fight since blasting to bits Cotto, but it was Pacquiao who got knocked out cold at 2:59 in the sixth round by Juan Manuel Marquez.
In Pacquiao’s last seven fights after the Marquez debacle, he won five and lost two times (to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Horn).
Pacquiao won all his five bouts on points. He struggled against a patsy Horn.
What are his chances against Matthysse who arguably is better than Horn?