Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Fair Play: History will smile on Manny, not Money

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's May 7 edition)
MOMENTS after the greatest win in a stellar career, Floyd Mayweather Jr. climbed the ropes, crossed his arms and looked at everyone in the arena, as if they were all beneath him.

He got booed.

He just beat the fighter whom most thought would beat him. Beat him soundly, too. And he made sure, they knew that.

“I told you so! I told you so!” he screamed. Booo! The crowd answered.


When Manny Pacquiao, who would eventually lose when the decision was read, climbed the ropes, he raised his hands to thank the fans, brought them together in that gesture of prayer and got what Floyd Jr. has so longed for but wouldn’t get—admiration and acceptance.

Make no mistake, Floyd won. Not 118-110, but he won. A few hours after the fight, I reviewed my notes, and saw a crossed out line that said, “Manny connects with 1-2.” I saw the 1-2 during the live telecast, but I crossed it out during the replay in-between rounds.

Why? Because I really didn’t see what I thought I saw. During the telecast, I saw Manny hitting that 1-2, and Floyd flailing his arms, in reaction. During the replay, after the first punch, Manny never got to connect the second because it got caught deflected it.

Flailing arms. Shoulder roll. Clinch. That’s Floyd. He’s used that to perfection in getting to 48-0. That’s what we saw--and didn’t like--last Sunday.

But the boos were not just for what the fans didn’t like last Sunday, or Saturday night in Las Vegas. It was for all things Floyd Mayweather Jr. To get to where he is, he marketed himself as the Money man, the villain, the rich guy who’d get away with anything including domestic abuse.

To get to where he is, Manny lost badly, won unconvincingly. He made a lot of bad decisions, got screwed, became a politician, but in the process, became that little guy we want to cheer for. It helped, too, that he almost always refused to talk ill of his foes.

So he got beat and he was smiling. Mayweather won, and he was scowling, screaming at his unseen demons, “I told you so!”

The scorecards say Manny lost, but I think the self-styled Money-man lost big-time, too, when he spent those moments scowling, screaming at the boxing world, “I told you so!”

As the old cliché goes, it’s not what you do during the match the makes you a champion, it’s what you do after it. Manny was smiling, Money was scowling.

And between the one who protected his career and cherry-picked his foes and the guy who took on all comers, despite the size disadvantage, history will smile on Manny, not Money.

Manny lost, the judges tell us, but history will make him a winner.

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