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Emil Amok!

Pacquiao should box on

12:44 AM April 16, 2014

After the last few Pacquiao fights I was usually the first one to say, “Please stop, now.”

Retire. Hang them up. Tapos.

I now reserve the right to reconsider.

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The weekend’s PacBradley 2 fight made me a believer. Let me be among the first to say, “Floyd Mayweather? Bring him on.”

I am usually not as vociferous on that matter as others have been, mostly because I really had better things in mind for Pacquiao.

I figure his voice will always be his voice for karaoke. But we do need to save his brain, if we want him to be at least as good as Gloria or Estrada.

Yes, for the future of the Philippines, we must prioritize the preservation of Pacquiao’s brain! This is no joking matter!

But now I care about that a little less.

Let me explain the evolution of my thinking.

When Barrack Obama began his bid for the U.S. presidency in 2008, I saw his rock star treatment when he visited Europe. I couldn’t help but notice similarities to Pacquiao and how he was received worldwide. This was especially true after that “turn the lights off” knockdown of Ricky Hatton in 2009. That victory was really the start of Pacquiao’s immense fame where he was being hailed as one of the most influential people in the world.

Naturally, it led me to dub the Philippine Congressman as the “Philippines’ Obama.”

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It’s been just five years since that Hatton match, and both Pacquiao and Obama have taken their lumps.

But Pacquaio especially has lost a little luster. In the last Marquez fight (there have been too many), Pacquiao was knocked out and seen face down on the mat for more than a few seconds, enough for people to wonder, “Is he dead?” It just seemed to add more doubt to the arc of his story, especially after losing that first Bradley fight in 2012, when Pacquiao seemingly won in the ring, but not on the scorer’s card.

That was like having an election stolen from you.

And it really says something if boxing has less integrity than an election in the Philippines.

The first Pacquiao-Bradley fight forced me to impose my own personal moratorium on Pay Per View boxing as no different from wrestling. Not with my money.  As for Pacquiao, I thought it was time for him to re-focus on life after the ring—public life as a fighter for the people.

The truth is the Philippines is in need of the kind of unifying, charismatic force that is Pacquiao. That’s what leaders are made of.

Because of that, with each and every fight, I’ve routinely called for Manny to stop.

But in the last five years, Pacquiao hasn’t exactly distinguished himself as a statesman. And while helping the people always sounds good, I’m all for people using one’s true gifts.

After last weekend’s PacBradley 2, is there any doubt that at age 35, Pacquiao’s gifts are meant for the ring, and the ring alone?

I had still held out hope to preserve Pacquiao’s brain even until a few weeks ago. Recently, at a lunch with a prominent Filipino American, on the mere mention of Pacquiao’s name, she acknowledged his mythic folk-hero status. But when I talked of him as presidential material? My lunch-mate said having an entourage of 100 who make you their meal ticket is not being a leader.  Indeed she was more concerned that the wrong people would have influence in a Pacquiao-led administration.

That assessment stuck with me as I watched, and then re-watched PacBradley 2 on video.

Of course, I lifted my personal moratorium on PPV. I wanted the Filipino Boxing Easter story. (Otherwise I’d just wait and watch the crucified and the flagellators out in San Pedro Cutud).

Pacquiao did not disappoint. His boxing skills remain his genius.

To really appreciate the dance of boxing, record the fights and watch it in slow motion. The fights move fast, but slowed down, you see how the bodies bob and duck, and you see the orchestration of it all when Pacquiao throws his patented multipunch combinations.

I scored the fight in real time, and gave Bradley the 1st and 4th rounds. But the 10 other rounds, I gave to Pacquiao. It wasn’t as dominating at the first PacBradley, mostly because Bradley is better now. But Pacquiao still schooled Bradley, who threw more counterpunches in the air than hit Pacman.

Pacquiao was more powerful and efficient in his punching that Bradley, landing 198 of 563 punches, a 35 percent clip, according to HBO. Bradley threw more punches, but landed just 22 percent (141/627).

The Bradley story was that Pacquiao was arching downward and no longer had it. Bradley, after his last two fights against Provodnikov and Marquez, was proving to be a skillful, durable endurance type.  But perhaps influenced by the Marquez knockout of Pacquiao, Bradley thought he could catch Pacquiao and deck him early.

He didn’t.

The best capsule of the fight is in the 6th and 7th rounds, both won by Pacquiao.

With :15 seconds left in the 6th, Pacaquiao’s right jab to forces Bradley to duck, and sets up a multiple punch assault of alternating left-right shots to Bradley’s face. Bradley is forced back on the ropes, and in :05 seconds, there is a 13-punch flurry that forces Bradley to seek refuge in a clinch.

I get punch-drunk just writing about it.

In another display in the 7th round, with just :46 second left, Pacquiao’s left-right combo gets Bradley to the ropes, setting up another 12 punch flurry in just :05 seconds.

My head hurts.

And with it goes any thought of Pacquiao being a washed up fighter.

He still has it. And Mayweather, four years older, has a right to duck him. Unless he wants the money.

Manny has a guaranteed $20 million payday with Bradley 2, according to reports. If there’s a rematch, Timothy Bradley will be Manny Pacquiao’s human ATM until further notice. With at least two fights a year, that’s potentially $80 million for the next two years. And that’s just fighting Bradley and assorted nobodies. If Pacquiao starts a Pacquiao-Mayweather series, that could be worth upwards of $500 million alone.

Politics? Malacanang? Manny’s brain? At age 35, there’s at least a two-year window in the ring.

This weekend convinced me.

If you can make that much money and not have to worry about the Spratly Islands, I say to Manny, “Box on.”

No brainer, right?

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