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The color of money

We have, through the years, admired IBF junior featherweight champion Manny Pacquiao for his indomitable courage and his skills as a genuine ring gladiator.

From his early days as a wild and wooly youngster on the weekly boxing show “Blow by Blow” where he honed his skills and carved a name for himself, to his stunning WBC flyweight championship victory in Bangkok in 1998 when he knocked out Thai hero Chatchai Sasakul to his smashing victory over Lelohonolo Ledwaba to capture the IBF crown, we have supported him all the way, first through Vintage and then through Viva Sports.

The years have seen Pacquiao blossom from boy to young man, with a little more finesse to his swagger and a lot more sense to what he says and does. He has developed his skills under the expert tutelage of trainer Freddie Roach, one of the greats in this day and age.

And he has accentuated his devastating punching power with perfect timing and a killer instinct. Reminds us of a black panther on the prowl. Stalking his prey before pouncing on him with unbridled ferocity.

While his stature has grown the ties that bound us together in a sport that we both have cherished because of its inherent nobility, have also been strengthened. Regrettably, neither the friendship of the long years nor the commitment to honor what is often recognized as the “right of first refusal” in the business of television in its broadest application have been able to withstand the inevitable curse of our times money.

And so we at Viva Sports will join millions of Filipinos to watch Pacquiao go up against fearsome featherweight Marco Antonio Barrera and say a prayer for him, hoping he can achieve what seems like a formidable task of not just beating Barrera but effectively staying on his feet until the end of 12 rounds.

Roach himself has told us, very clearly, he wanted Pacquiao to have two more fights against better opposition “including a fight against Paulie Ayala” before tangling with Barrera who has earned the moniker of “The Baby Faced Assassin” for obvious reasons.

He is a killer in the ring. Obviously Roach knows whereof he speaks because Pacquiao’s last few opponents haven’t been anywhere near the class of a Barrera. Jorge Eliecer Julio was “according to Roach” on the way down when Pacquiao mauled him.

Fakprakorb Rakkiatgym was built up to no. 1 by a Thai system that collects patsies for opponents merely to build up a fighter’s ranking. Emmanuel Lucero was sneaked in by Marian Muhammad and the IBF into the top 10 “with the help no doubt of Murad Muhammad” and proved he didn’t belong in the same ring.

On Sunday we saw the fighter Barrera beat Erik “El Terrible” Morales annihilate Guty Espadas Jr., the same fighter who beat our very own Luisito Espinosa some three years ago.

The performance of Morales gave us an idea of what Barrera would be like in the ring against Pacquiao. But Pacquiao’s business manager Rod Nazario and Murad Muhammad who is bound to make a killing by slicing a hefty chunk off Pacquiao’s purse from HBO “played on Manny’s bravado when he said in a post fight interview after disposing of Lucero, that he wanted Ayala and Barrera.”

Unfortunately Nazario and Murad got the order wrong “because the money was right. Our fervent prayer is that Pacquiao “through some minor miracle” will win. Our devout wish is that should he lose, he won’t take a bad beating.

Because if he does, the only winners in the fight game which is crowded with stories of fighters being exploited would be Nazario, Murad and a seemingly unwilling Marty Elorde, Manny’s registered manager.

Julie Yap-Daza

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