Once upon a time, not too long ago, there was nothing more exciting in boxing than Manny Pacquiao. His fighting style, inspired equally by the Tasmanian Devil and Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, left observers in awe and eager to see more. Outside the ring, he starred in action movies like Wapakman and sang bad karaoke songs on Jimmy Kimmel, which was funny the first time, at least. He fought against long odds against bigger opponents and exceeded every expectation. He ran for Congress in the Philippines. Heck, even his trainer, Freddie Roach, exemplified a feel-good story, his being overcoming Parkinson’s to become the top trainer in the world.
Now, while few of those things have changed, the excitement surrounding them has dwindled. Pacquiao is still a fighting force but he struggles to find opponents who will engage him in classic battles. He still does the bad karaoke thing but he’s somehow convinced enough people that he can actually sing that it’s taken far too seriously; he somehow morphed from William Hung to Billy Joel in the eyes of too many. He fights bigger opponents but they’re either cheating scum who don’t deserve the honor, like Antonio Margarito, or past-prime names simply going through the motions, like Shane Mosley. He ran for Congress again but actually won this time, so instead of just having a nice footnote about his campaign in his biography we have to deal with the fact that one of the most likeable big-time boxers in recent years now simultaneously boasts one of the most unlikeable professions known to man – politician.
The bottom line is that I’ve grown bored with Pacquiao. And it’s not Manny’s fault – he is who he is, and he happens to have one of the most interesting stories of any fighter in recent memory. It’s just that we get the exact same story, each and every fight, because his opponents are incapable of stealing away any of his spotlight. I’ve grown bored with Manny Pacquiao because his opponents have grown boring, because they don’t push him to talk about anything other than his love of singing, darts, helping people, and Buboy. Even the buildup to his fight on Saturday at welterweight against Juan Manuel Marquez, the third time the rivals will do battle after two encounters fought on largely equal terms, has been dispiritingly lacking pizazz. Marquez spent years needling Pacquiao, taunting him, egging him on to fight him once more, claiming Pacquiao was scared of him and couldn’t beat him. Now that he’s got the fight, Marquez has settled into the role of the happy, acquiescent, boring B-side fighter, conceding the spotlight to his more famous foe and acting as though the two are BFFs, an upsetting turn of events already noted here at TQBR.
Like it or not, trash talk helps build fights. Convincing the fans that there is real enmity between fighters helps convince them that the fighters will be out for blood when they get in the ring, that they might push themselves beyond normal limitations to punish a hated foe. Pacquiao is a nice guy and I’m not asking him to change who he is. I’m asking his opponents to stop acting like Pacquiao clones when doing press for his fights. I’m asking his opponents to take it upon themselves to drum up interest in the fight beyond, “Oh, Pacquiao’s fighting? Yeah, I guess I’ll watch that.” I’m asking his opponents to start taking shit, either to get under Manny’s skin or to just make the buildup to the fight more interesting.
I’ll even take it beyond just asking. I’ll give this future Pacquiao opponent some choice lines to get them warmed up, free of charge. All those amazing accomplishments listed above may be evidence of Pacquiao’s unique abilities, but they can also provide fodder for a wide range of insults. I might not be Don Rickles but I can give this a shot, and if Pacquiao’s next opponent wants to be more than just another figure in the background of Pacquiao’s press conferences he should do so too. Now, if said opponent happens to be the one guy who has no trouble talking shit to any opponent, I have a feeling these won’t be necessary.
On Pacquiao’s Music
Manny might be singing those eighties pop songs now, but the only thing he’ll be singing after we fight is the blues. “My baby don’t love me no more/’Cos my ass got knocked out in four.”
That song Manny likes to sing, “Sometimes When We Touch?” You know, Tina Turner covered that song too. After we fight, Manny’s gonna have something else in common with Tina Turner. He’s gonna know exactly what it feels like to get his ass beat by a bad, bad man.
On Pacquiao’s Political Career
It’s a good thing Manny won that congressional seat. When I’m done with him, he’s gonna be too beat up for boxing, too ugly for the movies, and too sad to sing. He’s gonna have to pay the bills somehow.
Come fight night, I’m gonna fulfill a dream of mine, a dream that a lot of people I know have shared with me for many years. I’m gonna punch a politician in the face, and I’m gonna keep doing it until they have to pull me off him.
On Pacquiao’s Filipino Support
They say that the crime rate drops to almost zero in the Philippines when Manny fights. When he fights me, I don’t know about the Philippines but the crime rate in Las Vegas is going to go up, because my fists are deadly weapons and I’m going to assault him with them all night long.
I was gonna fight Manny in the Philippines but then I found out that executions aren’t legal there anymore. So I have to do it in Las Vegas instead.
On Pacquiao’s Movies
Manny made a movie in the Philippines called, “Wapakman,” where he played a character like Superman. After we fight, you’re all gonna be calling me Wakryptonite.
On Pacquiao’s Haircut
Manny’s got that Justin Bieber haircut, and that’s cool, that’s hip. After we fight, he’s gonna want to go a little more old school though. He’s gonna want that Cousin It haircut, just so people can’t tell just how bad he got beat.