Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fair Play: Pacquiao fans bad for boxing?

THERE’S an interesting article posted at Philboxing.com. The author, Johnny Benz, said he was tired of the Manny Pacquiao coverage, that most Pacquiao fans are not really boxing fans, Pinoys only follow Pacquiao because there is no other Filipino superstar and that our adulation of him is not good for boxing. He also said, he wonders “If Pacquiao fans in the Philippines even pay that much to watch Pacquiao fight.”

There is some truth to his words, but for most part, he got it wrong.

He blamed Pacquiao’s popularity on the media, the Filipino media especially and its penchant to write anything about Pacquiao.

Well, Johnny, it wasn’t a writer who beat the bejeezus out of Erik Morales twice, Oscar de la Hoya nor Marco Antonio Barrera.

It was Pacquiao.

And it was because of those exploits that Pacquiao jumped from the sports pages to the front pages. He is not just a boxing superstar, he is a celebrity in the Philippines.

That’s why everything he does get in the news. I mean, look at the celebrity news in the US and in the UK. Yes, it’s tiring sometimes, but isn’t that the case with celebrity news? At least Pacquiao doesn’t pose nude for reality TV.

You are right. Most Pacquiao fans are not boxing fans. I follow Pacquiao and I don’t even call myself a boxing fan. If you ask most Pinoys, as what was done a couple of years ago, they’d say they only watch boxing if it involves Pacquiao.

Filipinos unite whenever Pacman fights. Even the Communist rebels or Muslim separatists are on an unofficial truce for that brief hour when the whole country cheers for a fellow Pinoy. What’s wrong with that?

If you think that’s bad for boxing, then you and your merry band of “real boxing fans” can have the sport all to yourself. Let’s see how long the industry will survive.

Some of those who follow Pacquiao got to follow boxing, that’s good for the sport. Isn’t that why Major League Soccer got David Beckham?

Whether Filipino fans pay as much as Hatton fans to watch live fights, well, we don’t. We never have. There are 80 million Pinoys, I guess, a conservative estimate would be 60 million Pinoys would be watching Pacquiao fight. And of that, about less than half a million would be PPV subscribers.

I know that pales compared to the UK and US numbers.

But you see, before Pacquiao, nobody paid to see live boxing matches on TV. A “live boxing match” was what we got on free TV, even if there are 10-minute commercials between national anthems.

But Pacquiao changed all that.

Since you said that Pinoys only follow Pacquiao because there is no other Filipino superstar that you know of, and since you praised Hatton’s fans to the high heavens, let me say this:

That you don’t know of any other Pinoy superstar doesn’t mean there are none. Pinoys follow Pacquiao because he is a countryman who has done well in the international arena, not because we have no other star to follow. Ditto with Apl.d.ap, Ariel Pineda and Charice.

You were quick to point out the flaws of the Pinoy fans, while glossing over those of Hatton’s. Well, not all of us go to Las Vegas to cheer for Pacquiao, but at least those who do, don’t boo when the national anthem of the other side is being played, do they? Nor do we beat up kids just because they’re wearing the wrong jersey.

If you’re tired of reading news about Pacquiao, then stop reading them. Ignore them. If you can’t, then don’t be pissed at those who write the news for those who regularly follow Pacquiao’s exploits.

As to the crazed Pacnuthuggers, there’s no reasoning with these internet hooligans, but do realize, they don’t really represent the Filipino fans. They are just a drop in the bucket.

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