As Many Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley prepare to meet for the third and potentially final time tomorrow, I’m sure you’ve been overwhelmed with nothingness at its promotion.
That is because no matter how hard 50-year veteran of the boxing promotion business Bob Arum tries, this latest and perhaps last offering from his Filipino standout star is ineffectual in hype value generation.
You might ask, how that can be? Since 2001, when he beat Lehlo Ledwaba at the same venue that he is fighting in tomorrow, the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for the IBF junior featherweight title via sixth round TKO, Pac-Man has been the guy to watch.
If you point the finger squarely at his unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., you are partially right because so much of his career swirled around the fight no one thought would happen, since boxing is notorious for fighters never meeting each other in their name-recognition primes.
No, this fight has no buzz because Manny Pacquiao has nothing more to prove. His legacy now lies away from boxing.
“You will learn a lot, not only the action in the ring but also as a person, both of us, Bradley and I,” said Pacquiao at the final press conference. “You know my life before. I came from nothing. The boy that is speaking in front of you now, I experienced sleeping in the street with no food. Sometimes ... I just drink water to survive. That’s my life, how it got transformed into this level of life. That’s why I’m excited and thankful to God for everything that he’s given to me.”
I don’t care that this is a rubber match where both Bradley, albeit controversial, and Pacquiao both have one win a piece over the other. That part belongs more to Tim Bradley who will forever face that demon whether he wants to or not. A win only surely secures his legacy.
“Check this out, this is about legacy for me,” said Bradley at the final press conference. “I’m getting a third crack at it. I’m ready and if I’m going to win this fight its now. I’m ready for everything more than any other fight that I’ve ever been in its now. If I’m going to beat Manny Pacquaio, it's now and I’m ready for it now.”
You see, in pugilism the hunger for more fuels our fire to play the part of voyeur. Two well-conditioned athletic machines, both hungry from virtual financial starvation and career position jockeying have always intrigued the masses. Yet the fire can only burn for so long.
I’m sure we will see the same Manny Pacquiao, replete with quick-fire combinations and speedy footwork on full display. But what we won’t see is the young hunger that once permeated his flashy headlining.
Because Manny has a new hunger that burns deep to his core, a need to fill his spirit.
Much has been said over the years about his altruism, almost to a fault, for the impoverished people of his homeland. In May of 2010, he was elected to the House of Representatives in the 15th Congress of the Philippines, representing the province of Sarangani. He was re-elected in 2013 and is currently running for one of 12 vacant seats in the Senate, the upper house of the Philippine Congress.
On Wednesday, the final press conference was held at the MGM Grand where only the main event fighters and camps sat to satiate the press starving for an audience-captivating headline. Instead they received nothing but humility, first from Bradley, who gave an election endorsement speech for his opponent, then from Pacquiao.
“I read something the other day that someone said that Manny Pacquaio, in order to win his campaign ... that he has to win this fight,” said Bradley. “I think that is bologna. I think that is garbage. I think, honest to God, I don’t think the fight has anything to do with what this man has shown to the Filipino people, where he’s from, to lose the fight or whatever happens to not get what’s rightfully deserved for him to win and sooner or later become Governor (sic. Senator) of the Philippines.”
“He hasn’t shown everybody what he’s made of, with everything that he’s done for the Philippines for the Filipino people?" Bradley continued. "He’s always shown character, integrity and he’s always shown that.”
Arum himself went on to describe how Pacquiao helped an entire fishing village by donating motors to fisherman who logged long hours paddling to sea where the hefty fisheries lie, improving their quality of life through decreased energy spent toiling in and out of tide via only arm strength.
Recently, Pacquaio revealed his adverse feelings towards homosexuality when he described gays as “worse than animals.” The statement cost him his endorsement deal with Nike and caused a big drop in his election poll numbers, as reported by Pulse Asia.
The balance of religion and politics is always a steep slope, however, that truly is the next real challenge for a man who clearly wants only the best for people who like him, come from nothing.
“I want to stay humble and live a simple life like the same people where I came from," said Pacquiao. "I love the poor people, I love to help them. All the Pay Per View and the tickets that you buy and support us, I’m not keeping for my family alone, but also I’m giving that to the community for the people who need help because I feel their pain."
“The money that you paid for boxing to support us, there a lot of families, thousands of families in the Philippines, you helped with that money," he continued. "Houses I build and give for free to each family in the Philippines that do not have a house, and creating a sustainable life for them, that’s what I’m happy to do and create a middle ground.”
When the lights over the squared circle go out tomorrow on Pac-man’s career, let us all understand that his new challenge, to uplift the islands of the Philippines, will truly be his greatest.