Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pacman

The day of the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton fight in Las Vegas was actually the following day, last Sunday, here in the Philippines. I somehow knew that Pacquiao would win, without having followed any of the particulars of the fight, without knowing how either of the fighters had trained to make the Light Welterweight limit of 140lbs. I knew that Hatton had a following of fans, many of whom had some all the way from Manchester, England to watch the fight. But Hatton couldn't possibly have behind him the honor of his nation and all the prayers of his race. Hatton couldn't have had every Englishman glued to his TV set, assembled in arenas, movie theaters, gyms, bars, and in every neighborhood assembly hall just to cheer him on.


The Philippine National Police announced that the national crime rate was at absolute zero for several hours before, during, and after the fight. There were two fatal heart attacks during the fight, but it can be said with some confidence that both men died happy.


Manny Pacquiao won the fight not because he was the "pound for pound" greatest fighter in the world, or because he was the better trained or better coached fighter, or because, as he himself said so humbly and beautifully after the fight, that he landed a lucky punch. Pacquiao won because of everything and everyone that was behind him - an almost cosmic force emanating not just from his motherland but from everywhere Filipinos are living and working all over the world. Knowing and feeling this force made me feel sorry for Ricky Hatton when he was knocked down by Pacquiao twice in the first round and when he was lying on his back on the canvas at the end of the second round, convulsing after Pacquiao's "lucky" knockout punch. Hatton felt the force behind Pacquiao's left fist, and he is probably feeling it still.


Years from now when the fight is remembered, people will ask if I was there to see it with my own eyes. "Yes," I can proudly say. "I was in the Philippines."

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