The smell of new printed money and the noise of slot machines approached me as I stepped inside Solaire Casino resort in Manila. This was the day where high roller poker competitions where dwarfed by the largest fight in the planet. This is no MGM, but the atmosphere and feel took me right inside Las Vegas.
Manny Pacquiao is fighting for his biggest fight in his career, against the undefeated defensive artist, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Not just for the welterweight ABC belts, but this is more than that. The fighter that wins the fight gets to be donned as the best pound per pound in this era. For Manny Pacquiao, it seemed to be a good story plot for a boxer that came from nothing into something. A battle between Manny’s unwavering respect and generosity towards people against Mayweather’s bravado and abuse of women. For some rounds in the fight, it looks like Manny was going to win, however, Floyd opted to make his own script. When Manny’s overhead left seemed to land, Floyd was able to adjust and scored his way to victory. Floyd was holding, running and shot potting Pacquiao with his right hand, for fight fans it wasn’t the fight we envisioned it to be. We wanted blood, we wanted a real toe to toe fight. But Floyd had to do what he had to do – fight smart and fight his own pace.
Manny’s fight plan was to overwhelm Floyd right from the start. The vintage Pacquiao could have blitzkrieg his way since Floyd always start slow. Manny could have piled up points from the early rounds and Floyd will be forced to fight him in the later rounds. It may have to do with Pacquiao’s injured shoulder when he was still in training, or it’s just how good Floyd is – he just made the best offensive fighter in this generation into an ordinary Joe.
According to compubox Manny’s punches got only 19 percent connect rate compared to Floyd’s 34 percent. But I feel it was closer than what the judges scored (118-110, 116-112 and 116-112.) 47 brave fighters tried to take away Floyd’s unblemished record, and all 47 failed. A testament to his mastery. For 19 years he wasn’t really in trouble, there were no brawl and fight of the year candidates, it was just the same old Floyd piling up point after point. Boring and yet effective.
Floyd raised his hands in the air, shouted “I told you so” and the people responded with boos and more boos when he was formally announced as the winner. 19 years with all his mastery and greatness and yet he still fight for something greater beyond money and boxing – people’s respect.
For Manny Pacquiao he lives to fight another day. “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” is Pacquiao’s status after the fight.
Manny came to fight, while Floyd came to win.
Just like every gamble, you take risk.
The fight of the century never lived up to expectations, everyone set the bar too high that it’s impossible to really achieve it. It was not an Ali-Frazier fight nor a Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns. The people’s champ fought in the biggest fight of his career against boxing’s best ever fighter.
At the end of the day, TBE (the best ever) won the fight. But Manny the only eight division champ and the people’s champion unanimously won our hearts.
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