- UncategorizedStyleFood & DrinkWomenTechPosted: Sunday, June 10, 2012 | By: Esquire Philippines | 2 commentsWords by Gary Andrew Poole for Esquire Philippines
Manny Pacquiao was 30 minutes late. He was lost somewhere in the MGM Grand working out his calf muscles so they wouldn’t cramp in his fight against Tim Bradley. No one could find him, and the mystery just deepened around him. We had thought we knew Manny, but in the runup to Saturday’s fight he had seemed to change so much that it didn’t even seem unusual if he never made his ring walk. But make it he did. They eventually found him, and he eventually took his red gloves and hit Tim Bradley hard enough to make him lose his balance and maybe even break the American’s ankle. And for eight, nine, maybe even ten of the twelve rounds, Manny looked like he was still Manny Pacquiao, the best boxer in the world, and that was kind of nice to see, that Manny was back, in his own way. He might not have thrown as many combinations in a row like he used to, and he didn’t move quite as fast and with those impossible angles that he once created, but he moved well enough, he punched well enough, he was exciting enough, and he certainly won, didn’t he?
You can tell a lot about how a fighter is performing when they come back to the corner to face their trainer. Bradley would come to his corner, right in front of me, and he looked like a beaten and confused man. In his training camp, he built himself into incredible shape. He fought better than ever. And he had survived against one of the greats and everyone respected him for it, but no one gave him much more than that. It looked like he lost most of the rounds. He would soon, and surely, suffer his first defeat. There wasn’t even a question.
Boxing has had a lot of bad decisions, but this couldn’t be one of them because Pacquiao had clearly won. On press row, there wasn’t one person who had it in Bradley’s favor because Pacquiao had won in nearly every category, including total punches connected (253 to 159) and power punches connected (190 to 108).
Bradley would punch Pacquiao and the PacMan would laugh. Not one of those–he-punched-me-and-I-am-laughing-because-it-actually-hurt-like-hell-but-I-don’t-want-to-admit it–laughs, but a real laugh. From ringside, you could tell that Bradley’s sporadic punches weren’t hurting Pacquiao. Sure, a few would land with a gentle thud and his jab was better than it has ever been, but you could *hear* Manny’s punches, and you could tell they hurt, hurt bad. Manny, who appeared to coast in the early parts of the rounds, even seemed a tad bit bored by Bradley’s predictable style, but each round Pacquiao did enough. It wasn’t a signature win, not one of those spectacular KOs that tells the world that Manny is all the way back, but maybe he never will be. Maybe he is 33 but maybe his fighting age is closer to 40. He has taken a lot of punches to entertain, to win, and maybe it’s ok to just appreciate that, and to celebrate his victory. Because it had to be a victory, it just couldn’t be anything else.
But at the end of twelve, the scorecards were read and Tim Bradley was the new welterweight champion, and Manny Pacquiao went to the corner and stood on the second rope and looked into the MGM Grand Garden crowd, and to the heavens and smiled, as if to calm everyone down. Because everyone seemed to be pretty pissed because whatever anyone thinks of the New Manny, they still have a love for the man, and they had witnessed an injustice against him.
But it won’t really matter. It won’t bring Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. any closer, two fighters aging before our eyes. And 30 minutes afterwards, after he had changed into his jeans and checked shirt, Pacquiao would express his displeasure, and giggle ruefully, say he had won the fight and everyone agreed because he had won. But that didn’t matter either.
PacMan: Behind The Scenes With Manny Pacquiao is available on Amazon and at bookstores worldwide. On Sunday it was recommended by the Los Angeles Times.
Gary Andrew Poole is a contributor to TIME. He has also written for Esquire, The Atlantic, the New York Times, and the Independent on Sunday (London). His first book–The Galloping Ghost: Red Grange, an American Football Legend, published by Houghton Mifflin–is in bookstores. It has been praised by Sports Illustrated, the Boston Globe, the Dallas Morning News, the Washington Post, Christianity Today, and the Chicago Sun-Times, among other publications. His book PacMan: Behind The Scenes With Manny Pacquiao-The Best Pound-for-Pound Fighter in the World (Da Capo)is now available in bookstores. It has been praised by Sports Illustrated, New York Newsday, the Wall Street Journal, Boxing Insider, The Daily Telegraph, the BBC and the Los Angeles Times.