Monday, June 30, 2008

It was an awesome yet equally bizarre night in boxing...

Much like every other male Filipinos in the world yesterday, I watched Manny "The Pac-Man" Pacquiao's lightweight title match against eventual loser, David Diaz. The whole of Manila practically stood still because, much like every Sunday when traffic is far less heavy as compared to the usual weekday traffic, yesterday's Sunday traffic was almost non-existent, save for those in front of churches, with very few cars and jeeps plying the road.

And though the intensity of the Pac-Man's fight - or perhaps "demolition job" would be more apt - against Diaz was to be expected, the incidents in last night's undercards clearly weren't. As a matter of fact, you could even say that some of the matches were just plain bizarre. We saw a match with the heavily-bleeding boxer lying down on the canvas being declared the winner, as well as a match where a lumbering giant of a man was floored and conclusively declared the loser just 57 seconds into the first round!

But the night clearly belonged to the Pac-Man, who not only had the entire Filipino people rooting for him, he also had the entire 2008 NBA champions, the Boston Celtics, chering for him.

From the get-go, Pac-Man was on the attack, giving Diaz some combinations to his body as well as some clean shots to his head, opening up a gusher of a cut in the early rounds. Proof enough that Diaz, even with his Mexican blood, is clearly lacking in boxing's technical department .

This was evident on how Diaz ended up being hit far too often to the body and to the head. He ducked and weaved too slowly, his defense was easily penetrable by the Pac-Man's fast fists. But still, you have to give Diaz some props for withstanding the Pac-Man's endless barrage. Diaz may be slow, but his tenacity, his heart, his stamina, can't be denied. Diaz went toe-to-toe against the Pac-Man with so much heart, no one had an inkling he was going down the way he did in the 9th round. Not even Manny Pacquiao, who was probably so surprised and so concerned over Diaz' welfare, the new champion even tried to help pull Diaz up off of the canvas.

The Pac-Man also quashed the adage that old dogs can't learn new tricks because, after 13 years of fighting, the Pac-Man showed off some new skills last night, skills that weren't displayed in his last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez just 3 short months ago. From being just a slugger who depended on his punching power and his dazzling speed, he also showed some fast footwork to go with his fast hands - an issue that I raised that I'm just too happy to have the Pac-Man disprove - and an awareness of the action on the ring that only a very few boxers have had.

The Pac-Man has already achieved so much after so many years of fighting in the ring, last night's turn as the new lightweight champion is really only another golden nugget to add to his greatness.

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