COMMENTARY | Nobody can ever accuse Manny Pacquiao of not being a compelling performer in the ring and a sincere man when it comes to his relationship with the fans. As a matter of fact, you'd be hard pressed to find any fighter, in the history of boxing, as conscious of his relationship with the everyday fan as Manny Pacquiao.
To the Filipino people, Manny is more than a fighter and more than a pop culture symbol. The eight-division former world champ is a flesh and bones representation of hope and triumph. If the little guy from the nastiest slum in the Philippines can conquer the world, there is a chance for everyone to come out ahead. Pacquiao's story is the story of the underdog, everywhere. From his home country to Mexico City and everywhere in between, Pacquiao's tale resonates and has made him, perhaps, the most popular fighter in the world.
The symbolism of his own rise to glory is not lost on Pacquiao.
Manny carries the weight of Filipino hope and worldwide fame on his shoulders and does so with class and grace. While the business machinations behind his meteoric rise to the top of the sport have frequently been questionable and/or downright deceitful, Pacquiao has managed to keep his hands clean. And one can't help but think that his efforts to always portray himself as an affable, honorable character come from the fact that he knows how much a "good" Manny means to those who follow his every move.
But shouldering this kind of weight can also take its toll on a man, even one as hearty as Pacquiao.
"I tried to control my emotions right after the fight but when I was alone in my room, I decided to view some of the TV footages of the reaction of my fans to my loss," Pacquiao told Manny Pinol of Philboxing.com. "When I saw that people were sad and crying, I felt so sorry that I failed them and I cried…If only I could embrace them one by one and tell them that I was sorry that I let them down, I will do it."
Obviously, after a stellar seventeen-year career that saw him rise from obscurity to the very top of the sport, Manny Pacquiao doesn't owe anybody an apology for a loss, especially a loss to a fellow hall of famer like Juan Manuel Marquez. But Manny is feeling the pain, above and beyond what a regular fighter would feel following defeat. His ugly, face-first knockout loss, to many, was as emotionally distressing as it was visually unsettling. Pacquiao surely understands what his continued success means to so many and how this abrupt, brutal loss must have hurt those who have put him on a pedestal.
Like any other fighter, though, Pacquiao's next step is to get back in the ring and push ahead. He is now officially winless in his last two bouts, although his split decision loss to Timothy Bradley on June 9 of last year was highly dubious. Still, the former pound-for-pound top dog hasn't had his hand raised in victory since his close, controversial majority decision over Marquez in November of 2011 and hasn't won decisively since besting a shot Shane Mosley in May of that same year.
According to reports, Pacquiao will return to the ring in September. Marquez is still non-committal about whether he wants a rematch or not and other possible rival, Bradley, may not have fully recovered by that time from his brutal war with Russia's Ruslan Provodnikov.
No matter who he fights, though, Pacquiao has to win. At this point, it's not just his livelihood at stake when he finally re-enters the ring. An entire population of fans will be looking to him, hoping for vicarious glory and redemption through the fists of their 5' 6" icon.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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