POSTSCRIPT / August 24, 2021 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pacquiao’s defeat has domino effects

WAS the defeat of Manny Pacquiao in the hands of Yordenis Ugas in their 12-rounder last Saturday the closing canto of PacMan’s legendary domination of several weight divisions in the boxing world and some political initiatives in the Philippines?

Ugas took the fight on an 11 days’ notice when unified champion Errol Spence Jr. withdrew after suffering an eye injury. The 35-year-old Cuban substitute had the pro-Pacquiao crowd in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas howling as he pounded the 42-year-old “Pambansang Kamao.”

CompuBox saw Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) outlanding Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) 101 to 88. Registering an impressive 59 percent of his power shots, Ugas hammered out a unanimous decision (115-113, 116-112, 116-112) to win the WBA welterweight title.

Ugas scored with his double-jabs to the head followed by a right to the body. His high guard picked off Pacquiao’s blows before a sharp right looped around PacMan’s gloves and connected to the head over and over, finally inflicting a cut over his left eye.

Pacquiao’s defeat sort of validated the handing over to Ugas earlier in the week of his WBA “super” welterweight title on account of the senator’s not defending it in the ring for two years. (More details in the Sports section.)

The victory of Ugas, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, over Pacquiao looked like fate was working in the background.

The Cuban pug said of his win, “I’m very excited, but most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in this ring today. Now the plan is to unify the title at welterweight. …Errol Spence is the next one on the list. I am praying that he recuperates.”

In March 2019, Ugas dropped a split decision to Shawn Porter. Four months after, Pacquiao regained the welterweight title from Keith Thurman in an impressive performance that showed Pacquiao’s champion qualities.

But with Pacquiao’s inactivity or failure to mount a ring defense of the belt, it was taken from him and given to Ugas. Then the Cuban suddenly found himself replacing Spence and inheriting the task of taking back the title from Thurman – which he did Saturday by beating Pacquiao.

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WILL Pacquiao’s loss have a domino effect, such as a series of setbacks, that will force him to scale down his various plans that include a run for the presidency in May 2022? Having felt the stiffness creeping in his knuckles and legs, will he now consider hanging up his gloves?

In a post-fight press interview, Pacquiao was saying, “I had a hard time in the ring making adjustments. My legs were tight. I’m sorry I lost tonight, but I did my best. I don’t know. Let me rest first and relax (before) I make the decision of whether I will fight or not.

“I will make a final announcement (about running for president) next month. I know that I am facing a big problem that’s more difficult than boxing but I want to help the people. I want to help them. I will make a final announcement next month.”

From our corner, we tweeted yesterday this unsolicited advice for him: “Don’t run for president. Mag-endorse ka na lang. Commit funds and time to pro-poor advocacy. Continue Bible study. Ingat ka sa Covid at sa magnanakaw. You’ll be OK!”

While training in California for the fight, Pacquiao must have been distracted no end by the political noise back home. It must have been difficult, for instance, keeping his mind unaffected by his ouster as president of the PDP-Laban party in his absence.

He had already announced his intention to run for president when a faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi nominated President Duterte as the party’s bet for vice president and gave him a free hand to choose his aide Bong Go as his presidential running mate.

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PACQUIAO’S defeat will dampen the excitement over his champion attraction because most Filipinos want identification with a winner. They want to be on the side of the bida (hero) always. That is why politicians pay for surveys purporting to show their alleged popularity.

A final decision to run for president would depend not only on Pacquiao’s assessment of the political lay of the land and his chances of winning, but also on his personal relationship with influential figures, including President Duterte, and power brokers.

Pacquiao still has a considerable mass following, but it may not be enough to clinch victory.

Unlike others who run for the funds of it, the question to ask in his case is why should he run if he would lose anyway?

It would make more sense for him to just support the presidential candidate who best reflects his political views, and whose best intentions for the people coincide with his.

It could also happen that a frustrated aspirant would support a winnable or relatively strong candidate to be able to bring down or get even with big politicians who had done him much harm over time.

This talk about Pacquiao, btw, should not draw attention away from the win in the undercard of another Filipino, Mark Magsayo, via a 10th-round knockout of Julio Ceja. Magsayo, 26, has thus risen to be the No. 1 contender for the WBC featherweight title held by Gary Russell Jr.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 24, 2021)

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