By Perry Diaz


Quo Vadis, Manny Pacquiao?


At 32 years old, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao achieved what nobody in the world – nay, history – has achieved.  Born dirt poor, Pacquiao slugged his way to greatness, one weight division at a time – from flyweight to super welterweight – and captured eight world championship titles in eight weight divisions.  Indeed, there is only one man on earth today who could break his record – himself.


Asked what his plans are now that he’s achieved what no man has done before, people are asking if he’s going to retire and concentrate on his new job as a congressman of Sarangani province.   During a media interview upon his arrival in the Philippines, Pacquiao said that he plans to retire in three years when he reaches the age of 35.  “I want you to know that I will not be retiring anytime soon, maybe a few more fights.  Since I just finished my fight with Margarito, let’s forget boxing for a while and focus on serving the people,” he said. “As congressman, it is my duty to do my job right for my fellow men, especially those in my district.” 

The question is:  Why would Pacquiao want to continue fighting?  He has already proved that he is the greatest boxer of all time.  What more does he want to achieve… or to prove?  He can no longer be “greater”; he is already the “greatest”! 


Greatness and vision


Maybe he realizes that “greatness” is not measured in terms of championship titles and wealth.  Perhaps he is no longer content with the “greatness” that he has achieved for himself.  He probably thinks that there is a loftier greatness and that would be the greatness he could achieve for his people.  Does he have a vision for his constituents in Sarangani?  Or better, does he have a vision for his country? 


I am beginning to believe that Pacquiao has a vision for his country.  Perhaps his personal experience of growing poor and seeing – and living in -- poverty has imbued in him a burning desire to overcome poverty and uplift his people from the bottomless pit of economic bondage.   


Thus, it did not come as a surprise when Pacquiao entered politics in 2007 at the height of his boxing career.  He ran for congressman and lost.  But like the true fighter that he is, he ran again last May this year… and won.  Sworn in as congressman last July, he took off again in quest of his eighth championship title in his heaviest weight division ever.  


Flyweight vs. welterweight


Last November 13, he faced Mexican boxer Antonio Margarito for the world super welterweight title.  Many people were apprehensive that Pacquiao may finally have met the man who’d bring him down.   Some of his fellow congressmen even considered filing a resolution in the House of Representatives that would stop him from fighting Margarito.   Indeed, they had reason to believe that Pacquiao might not win this time:  Margarito was five inches taller and 17 pounds heavier that Pacquiao.  Many called the fight “Flyweight vs. Welterweight” because Pacquiao started as a flyweight fighter and Margarito has always been a welterweight.  But once again, Pacquiao proved the unbelievers wrong.   His victory over Margarito was his 13th straight victory, which included eight knockouts. 


But what concerned a lot of boxing aficionados was Pacquiao’s failure to knock Margarito out in spite of the high number of Pacquiao’s power punches that landed on Margarito. 


The same was true when Pacquiao beat Joshua Clottey last March 13 for the world welterweight championship title -- Pacquiao failed to knock out Clottey.   This led many people to believe that Pacquiao was not a true welterweight but an overweight lightweight who doesn’t have the punching power to knock a welterweight out.


What’s next?


During the media interview, Pacquiao said he’s willing to fight Juan Miguel Marquez again.  However, he said that his fans might not be interested in a second Pacquiao-Marquez rematch. The first fight between the two fighters ended in a disputed draw and the second ended in a split decision in favor of Pacquiao.   Many supporters of a Pacquiao-Marquez rematch argue that Marquez may have won both fights.  Should Pacquiao fight Marquez for the third time, it would be to prove, once and for all, that he is better than Marquez.


But what is eluding Pacquiao is an opportunity to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. who remains undefeated, and who claims that he’s better than Pacquiao.  If a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight would happen, it would most likely be the biggest fight ever in boxing history.  Is this the fight that Pacquiao would be waiting for in the next three years before he retires? 

Quo vadis, Pacquiao?


Meanwhile, where’s Pacquiao going?  With a three-year term as congressman, he would qualify to run for the Senate when he reaches 35 years old.   In 2022, when he’s 44 years old, he’d qualify to run for President.   But a lot of people are saying that Pacquiao doesn’t have what takes to become president or, more aptly, run a government. 


But 12 years is a lot of time to learn on how to govern.  And that’s more than enough to hone his political skills.  Heck, Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo -- two of the most educated and smartest politicians -- turned out to be the most corrupt presidents.  And Ramon Magsaysay -- who was put down because of his “inadequate” education and ridiculed as a lowly mechanic -- turned out to be the best president we ever had.  As the old adage says, “Don’t judge the book by its cover.” 


There is no doubt that Pacquiao is very smart.  His boxing speed and prowess are the result of an extraordinary mind – a genius if you may.  His mind must work like a computer to be able to play a game of wits that require fast thinking and precise execution of attack.  It’s a mind game as well as physical prowess.


Recently, Pacquiao was quoted as saying: “We should be close to God. The way we seek to be close to our family, the way we struggle for ourselves, we should be that close to God. We rarely tell God we love him, not as much as we say ‘I love you’ to our loved ones.”   That’s wisdom… and greatness of mind.

Indeed, Pacquiao could be a diamond in the rough.  Watch him!