Las Vegas, NV- It has been over a week since Manny Pacquiao’s remarkable knockout win over the now former IBO Junior Welterweight Champion Ricky “The Hit man” Hatton. The brutal knockout came at two minutes and fifty-nine seconds into the second round, leaving the British brawler motionless and sprawled on his back minutes after the bout was called by referee Kenny Bayless. “I didn’t even have to count.” remarked Bayless, who allowed the fight to continue after Hatton had been knocked down twice in the previous round, only to be saved by the bell.
Completely ecstatic over the victory, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum likened the Filipino Boxer to a Heavyweight great of the past, saying “I promoted Muhammad Ali and he had phenomenal speed and he had terrific reflexes, but he sure as hell didn’t have the explosive power that Manny Pacquiao has.” He added, “there has never been a fighter with the same combination of speed and explosive power as Manny Pacquiao.”
Further adding to the praise of Pacquiao was his longtime trainer and confidant Freddie Roach. “Manny is unbelievable, hes always making me look good.” Commenting on his own success as a trainer Roach added “I am the best trainer in the world because I have the best fighter in the world.”
The bout hosted a slew of celebrities and athletes from former Pacquiao foe Oscar De La Hoya to Hip Hop moguls P. Diddy and Jay-Z. After the bout Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington greeted the Filipino Icon with a kind hug, hoping for Pacquiao’s continued success saying, “I just want him to stay strong and clean, and to keep fighting and winning.”
Continuing to solidify his boxing legacy, Pacquiao’s newly crowned Junior Welterweight belt gives him six titles in six different weight classes, as well as an undisputed hold on the rank of boxing’s best pound for pound fighter in the world. Moreover, with fans flocking to sin city (including over 30,000 from Britain) for the bout, and a paper-view showing which attracted the fourth largest audience in history, “The People’s Champ” can be reassured that the country’s economic downturn will not affect him anytime soon.
But behind the big names and numbers surrounding the bout, there are the unsung voices of the people. Those that continue to travel far and wide to catch just a brief glimpse of the man they call “Pacman”. Those that sit sacrilegiously screaming in front of their screens in support of every pugilistic pummeling and fallen foe Pacquiao knocks to the canvass. For them, this is more then just an unyielding pugnacity for their man, Manny represents something deeply rooted within themselves and for his Filipino/a fans he gives them a familiar face and inspirational pride that continues to grow with his continuing success.
Originally from Saudi Arabia, Pacquiao fan Angela Braceros expresses her pride towards Manny’s success, saying “I’m Filipino and its great to see another Filipino doing something so amazing that the whole world recognizes it, and are in awe of his success.” She added, “He’s Filipino and he’s proud of it, from the color of his shorts to the music that plays when he walks into the ring.” For Pacman fanatic Lovelyn Layug, Pacquiao represents more then just the pride of the Philippines, but a motivational idol to look up to as she says, “He is definitely the embodiment of “actions speak louder than words”. Further adding “Whenever I have any ounce of doubt in myself he motivates me to never back down, and to know that my dignity and passion should never falter.”
While there are many that have come to take Pacquiao’s dominance over the boxing world through various weight classes as somewhat of a surprise, others see it as the fighter’s ability to adapt and change with every new bout, as Arum states “This young man continues to learn with every training session, he’s doing things he has never done before and he continues to improve with every fight.” Highlighting Pacquiao’s continuing evolution as a fighter Roach said, “Manny’s a different fighter now, a different guy. He’s a more-complete fighter and everything we’ve worked on is coming into play.”
Traveling from San Diego, California to watch the fight longtime Pacman enthusiast Jason Torres sees Pacquiao’s success as a product of dedication and hard work. “All the effort he puts into training is paying off and after beating big names like De La Hoya its great to see his success being recognized by others.”, commenting on Pacquiao’s rising popularity Torres added “ He’s not just popular within the Filipino community but he’s recognized worldwide as the best.”
Aside from his success, many of Pacquiao’s fans find solace in his ability to embrace a humility that keeps him grounded and in tune with the needs of the people. Bay area native Gizelle Quinto sees Manny’s continued onslaught of victories as a form of predestined divinity saying “Every time he steps in the ring he prays. I think that his success and his faith in God are not just coincidences.” Elaborating further she adds, “I believe that his dedication, faith and humble nature allow him to be successful and when he wins, it reaffirms my faith in what I believe.”
Moreover, Pacquiao’s dedication and charity to his fellow Philippine countrymen has been documented and at times criticized by those close to him. He has been quoted as once saying, “With great power comes great responsibility.” a saying that may be found in a plethora of sources from the works of Gandhi, to the works of Stan Lee’s “Spider Man”. A demonstration of this power can be seen with Pacquiao’s ability to halt crime and guerrilla warfare in his native Philippines with every fight he takes on.
“Its pretty amazing.” Torres says, “Considering the type of crime and religious wars that are in the Philippines, to see that this boxer who grew out of nothing can stop all that for an hour or two is more then you can say for any politician or movie star.” Braceros adds “I wish he could fight forever, and train Filipinos to box with honor.”
Although the capacity to stop violence in a country that has been known as a hot bed for crime can not be described as anything short of amazing, some see it as a brief and disheartening gesture, as Layug says “It is uplifting to know that someone like Manny is able to bring millions of people together, but I wish we would apply that compassion that we have for each other when he fights into everyday of our lives.” She adds “Everything would be so much more peaceful.”
For Pacquiao’s fans it is more then about boxing. More then just the jaw breaking blows of a Fistic Icon. It is about the hope, inspiration and dedication he gives them. It is about the faith and loyalty given to a man that stops wars, a man who channels the fight and will of his passions and people for greater things. It is about an athlete who continues to rise towards that invisible peak that everyone longs to witness. It is about history, and there is no doubt that Pacquiao continues to make it with every dominating win. The question is. How much better can this man get? It is scary to think that a fighter in his prime can continue to outshine even his greatest of victories. With this reality in mind, fans all over the world continue to tune-in hoping to see his next amazing feat.
*Photos by John Juan, Jr.