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The Final Score: A very different Manny Pacquiao experience

December 10, 2012 12:20pm
The image will haunt us. I’m not sure for how long. But it lingers like a bad dream. I cringe just writing about it. We know the sequence too well.

First, we felt that familiar rush. Recovering from an early knockdown, Manny Pacquiao was back to being forever’s Manny Pacquiao. We were exhilarated by his flurry of punches. We were emboldened by the splatter of blood on Juan Manuel Marquez’s face. Surely, Pacquiao was ahead on points. Surely, the bout would follow a familiar plot - Marquez tries but Pacquiao wins.

Then, we all witnessed “the punch” – that blow which may have changed everything. If you weren’t stunned, you must have been watching something else. Where did that punch come from? Marquez hit his target. Pacquiao’s head snapped back. It was spectacular as it was sickening. We were surprised because Pacquiao was surprised. He didn’t see it. We didn’t expect it. At the moment of impact, we realized Pacquiao had walked into the alley of doom.

Then, Pacquiao crashed face-first on the canvas. It became a moment people remember for the wrong reasons. It was exciting and horrifying at the same time. Perfect knock out. Game over. Good night. Pacquiao, however, was on the wrong end of boxing’s most thrilling spectacle. It was a legendary moment for Marquez fans. It was a car crash moment for Pacquiao supporters.

We froze.

In between “Holy sh*t! He’s not moving!” and “Thank God! He’s okay!”, I was dazed. Perhaps you were too. Maybe many of us were knocked out of our stubborn beliefs - that Manny can’t be touched, that Marquez is too old, that in the fistfights between Pacquiao and his rivals, Pacquiao always has to win. Maybe some people saw it coming. Yet I’m sure more people never imagined it would happen.

Pacquiao was down. And we didn’t know how to react.

It’s an unfamiliar rush. While I watched people around the room fret and heard their overwhelming concern for Pacquiao’s safety, too many thoughts popped up. Should Pacquiao fight again? Should he retire? Who’s to blame? Sino ang jinx: Steven Seagal or Mitt Romney? Was it even a good idea to fight Marquez in the first place? Was it a lucky punch or a lethal instrument of poetry?

Moments later, we settled down. What we saw was a brutal reminder that boxing spares no one; not even national living legends. How does a fighter go from in-the-zone to zonked-out in an instant? Even if you’re ahead on points, Dinamita happens and…kaboom. You can win. You can lose. No exceptions.

I was thankful to see Pacquiao smiling in the ring afterwards. He seemed fine. So I finally accepted the result. It was a fantastic fight with a shocking finish. We witnessed a memorable duel between two men. Even if they were fighting for a bottle of beer, they would fight the exact same way. For Marquez, it wasn’t a miracle. For Pacquiao, it probably wasn’t the end. For two legendary men, it was boxing. - AMD, GMA News

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