Thursday, November 4, 2010
A mere 10 days from now, the world will know whether Manny Pacquiao remains boxing’s pound for pound king or Antonio Margarito has pulled a colossal upset and successfully achieved the first step for his redemption.
It is well known that Manny Pacquiao, the only boxer who has won world championship belts in seven weight classes, is very superstitious. There are innumerable tales about the idiosyncrasies and rituals he goes through before each fight, lest things may not go as perfectly as well, as he wants them to be.
His superstition about drawing blood close to a fight would weaken him and his fear of the needle gave Mayweather, Jr. the justification to accuse him of being on the juice, effectively scuttling the biggest fight of the century. Although Pacquiao’s beliefs have no basis in reality and some quarters find them laughable, nonetheless I can appreciate Manny’s point.
One can write a book and enumerate the many superstitions Congressman Pacquiao believes in.
When fighting in Las Vegas, he has to stay at The Hotel in Mandalay Bay, his lucky abode while in Sin City. In spite of having the choice to be flown by a private jet or driven in a customized luxury Pacman bus from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, he always opts to ride in his “old” but lucky Navigator SUV.
Mommy Dionisia, his very religious mother, does not see his fight in person not only because she does not want to see her boy get hurt but also her presence may prove unlucky.
Nobody can make him wear any other boxing gloves but his lucky Cleto Reyes gloves. He paid dearly and lost to Morales when he used a different glove.
And we can go on and on.
Filipinos and Asians in general are very superstitious.
Since actor, singer, congressman, boxer, cologne maker, businessman Manny Pacquiao began his incredible winning streak, I have watched his fights in person from Las Vegas to Dallas.
Unfortunately, I probably will miss the November 13th Pacquiao-Margarito Fight. Just like Manny Pacquiao, I am extremely superstitious, especially with regards to sports.
Missing the fight on the 13th, an unlucky number, may trigger a cascade of superstitious nonsense.
It is not uncommon for me to blame myself for a St. Louis Cardinals loss, just because I watched the game in our bedroom rather than in the family room. I beg my youngest daughter not to watch the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. They almost always lose every time she goes to the game.
During the glory days of the St. Louis Rams, I have to follow certain rituals to ensure the team’s victory. Obviously, the past several seasons, even a miracle would not have helped the Rams. Although this year, I am back to my Rams rituals. They may have a shot going to the playoffs.
I still cannot get over the come from behind victory of the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Arizona Cardinals, just because I switched from Bud Light to Corona during that fateful last minute touchdown incredibly caught by Santonio Holmes. I hope Kurt Warner has forgiven me.
I am highly confident that with or without me watching the fight, Manny Pacquiao’s hands will be the ones raised at the end of the fight, whether by a late stoppage or a lopsided decision over the game Antonio “The Tijuana Tornado” Margarito.
However, every Pacquiao fan wants to make sure that there is nothing left to chance to ensure a victory, superstitions included.
The concerns of the fans are very palpable as they hear about the quality, or lack of it, of Team Pacquiao’s training camp.
Freddie Roach called this particular training camp, the worst ever.
Playing basketball every night, missing some of his morning road work, being down with a cold, possible foot injury, singing with his band late into the night, leaving the fresh air of Baguio a couple of times to see the President, a trip to Congress, joining a 10 K fun run in support of the clean-up of a polluted Pasig River and the list goes on…
Conditioning Coach Alex Ariza has openly voiced his disgust (with an expletive to boot in the second offering of HBO’s 24/7) about the multitude of distractions they have to overcome.
Bob Arum was seriously bothered by Pacquiao’s lack of speed and intensity, even declaring in Baguio 2 weeks ago that Margarito would have won hands down if the fight were fought at that time.
What is ironic was Bob Arum’s concern about Manny’s distractions in the Philippines but found nothing wrong about pulling his prized fighter from training in LA and fly him to Las Vegas to bolster the beleaguered campaign of his friend Senator Reid’s bid for re election in the U.S. Senate.
Congressman Pacquiao’s magic obviously worked. He can now take credit for delivering the Filipino-Americans and boxing fans votes which propelled the Senate Majority Leader to win.
I thought foreign politicians are not allowed to meddle in United States election. But what do I know?
Pundits have been divided whether the so-called distractions are for real or a mere ploy to boost Pay Per View sales and fill up the humungous Dallas Cowboy Stadium for a record breaking live attendance.
Contrast Team Pacquiao’s training camp with that of Team Margarito. All we hear are how good Margarito looks, not only physically but also during sparring.
The Tijuana Tornado has nothing to lose and has everything to gain. He obviously is the hungrier fighter. And winning this fight is the ticket to his deliverance.
While Margarito is killing himself in training to be in the best shape possible, we see Manny singing a Beatles classic “Imagine” in a duet with Will Ferrell.
While we see images of a ripped Tijuana Tornado, we hear Ariza complaining about an underweight Pacman.
Are the lack of focus, apparent lackadaisical atmosphere and the many distractions that swirl around the Team Pacquiao’s camp legitimate grounds for the fans’ anxiety?
Will superstitions play a role?
I don’t think so.
On November 13, we will find out that a hungry, focused, well trained, much bigger and 100% Antonio Margarito will not be enough to defeat a distracted, multi-tasking, underweight, inadequately trained and 75% Manny Pacquiao, the best boxer in the planet.
But in the remote likelihood that Pacquiao loses, don’t blame Manny, it’s not his fault.
Blame me and my stupid superstition.