Was it just coincidence? Or corruption in boxing?

There are howls of protest and ridicule now being heard all across America over the sudden “rebooking” in the slated Pacquiao-Spence bout on August 21 two days ago (Aug. 10).

Without warning, Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) announced that Errol Spence, Jr. was found to be afflicted with retinal tear during a mandatory medical examination, forcing him to pull out of the unification fight for the WBC and IBF boxing welterweight championships.

But as quickly as the announcement that Spence was gone as Pacquiao’s foe on the ring, PBC assured boxing fans that the eight-division championship titlist wasn’t about to go home to his job as Senator of the Philippines. PBC found a worthy opponent for Pacquiao — Yordeni Ugas. The 33-year old Cuban, who currently hold the WBA welterweight champion’s belt, had initially been booked as an undercard to fight against Fabian Maidana.

How did the switch happen so quickly?

Well, the organizers said that Maidana had also suffered an injury — a cut below his left eye — on that same day Spence’s injury was disclosed.


How could that possibly happen?

That was too much of a coincidence.

The speculation is that Maidana had to give way by pretending to have suffered a similar eye injury as Spence. There’s too much at stake in Pacquiao going back to the ring. Huge amounts of green bucks have been spent in promotion and booking the venue and pay-per-view contracts.

The financial losses would have been staggering if the main event is cancelled.

Boxing analysts are loudly complaining that this is hardly the match that fans are anticipating. While Ugas is the title-holder for the WBA welterweight championship, it’s not right that he is put to face Pacquiao just like that with little preparation. The same thing can be said about Pacquiao. For months now, Pacquiao trained with Spence in mind. Long hours were spent viewing and reviewing Spence’s previous bouts to develop a battle plan.

There’s no more time to make adjustments. The remaining 10 days before Pacquiao and Ugas meet each other will be the tapering off in training. No more intense sparring sessions. Mostly speed ball and heavy bag sessions will be in their training day. Everything, except maybe for the physical training aspect, is gone to waste. Both fighters will climb the ring essentially unfamiliar with the opponent’s fighting style.

What can we expect on Aug. 21?

It will be a boring fight. The first few rounds are likely to be probing sessions, each fighter trying to size up the other, looking for possible weaknesses. In this situation, it would be too risky to launch an early attack. Nothing in the training had prepared both what to expect from the other. There will be a lot of dancing around, a few jabs thrown here and there. But as both of them will be cautious, the bout could very well turn out to be a night of ballroom dancing on the ring.

Punch drunk: Pacquiao caught like a fish in the mouth with his lies

The wits of this guy have long left his brain, what with the thousands and thousands of powerful blows to his head that he received during a two-decade career in boxing. He has lost the most basic reasoning, and he talks without even knowing he is now sounding like the fool in the town square. That’s what is happening to Senator Manny Pacquiao now.

On Friday, Pacquiao, perhaps stung by insults that his “corruption bombshell” were nothing but “watusi”, the fighting Senator from Sarangani vowed he will show video and audio recordings to prove his allegations that corruption had worsened three-fold during the Duterte administration.

The bravado with which Pacquiao made that statement is quickly melted by the saying that “a fish is caught by its mouth.” That he vowed to present video and audio recordings is an acknowledgment that the piles of bond paper on his desk when he held a virtual press conference two weeks ago were nothing but plain bond paper. There was nothing in those bundles that can prove his allegations.

Indeed, if those “props” on his desk top were evidence of the corruption he was talking about, Pacquiao wouldn’t even need to say anything else. Res ipsa loquitor, as the Latin maxim goes. Let the thing speak for itself. Corruption is best proven with documentary evidence. Testimonial evidence will still need to be corroborated by documents. Otherwise, such statements amount to nothing but hearsay.

Nevertheless, let me rebutt his latest statement –

Why will he wait for when he comes back from his bout against Errol Spence, Jr scheduled on August 21, 2021 to present the video and audio recordings he has in his possession? Why didn’t he reveal these during his press conference last July 3?

Video and audio recording?

This is the first time somebody hurling serious accusations wants to present video and audio recordings as evidence. And why would he hitch the condition about whether he will be permitted to disclose such video and audio recordings? Is this the testimony of a whistle-blower? Another “Bikoy” perhaps?

Seriously, I got lost when he said “video AND audio recordings”. Even children, in this age of the smartphone, know that audio necessarily comes with the video. The era of “silent movies” is long gone. Or is he saying that aside from video (with audio), he has in his possession audio recordings that detail the alleged corruption by other whistle-blowers.

But doesn’t Pacquiao know that such video and audio recordings are not admissible as evidence absent a proper authentication as to who made such statements? “Bikoy” is still fresh in our minds, and it is far too easy to manufacture so-called digital recordings with the technology that is now abundantly available.

If Pacquiao believes Filipinos are so gullible that such a tall-tale will gain credence, then he is dead wrong. It wasn’t too long ago when former Senator Antonio Trillanes came up with a series of videos by somebody calling himself “Bikoy” to hurl serious charges of involvement in illegal drugs by close family members of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. How many times do we have to encounter such cheap tricks to be forewarned?

I suggest Pacquiao use his time in the U.S. to consult with neurosurgeons and have his brain checked. The symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), or the punch-drunk syndrome, are becoming more apparent as time marches on. There’s time for him to cancel his fight with Spence and avoid a worsening of his mental condition.

Pacquiao’s Sarangani: a very poor province

With Manny Pacquiao seemingly intent on pursuing his grand ambition to run for the Presidency, a good place to start in looking at his track record as a public servant is Sarangani province where he comes from. This assumes high relevance because one of his first promises is that he will eradicate homelessness in the country in a matter of 4 to 5 years. One needs only an ounce of common sense to know that this is one of those “suntok-sa-buwan (punch at the moon)” promises that traditional politicians are known to dish out in abundance.

But we have to admit that such a promise made by Pacquiao will gain believers among the country’s multitudes. Early in his political career, Pacquiao learned quickly that patronage politics remains a powerful magic potion that can achieve electoral victory. The first time Pacquiao tried his hand in politics, he ran against Darlene Antonino for the congressional seat in General Santos in 2007. He thought his popularity was enough to propel him to victory. The diminutive young woman trounced the world boxing champion at the polls.

Pacquiao didn’t want to risk losing a second time and moved to Sarangani, the home province of his wife. This time, he came prepared with his money. Long before the elections, he literally threw money around to buy political loyalty among the province’s deeply-entrenched leaders. In 2010, he won the seat as congressman of Sarangani.

That was 11 years ago. When he won, he promised he would pour all his pork barrel into projects in the province. “I don’t need it anyway,” Pacquiao was quoted in The New York Times. It was a subtle admission that as congressman, he could have pocketed the 70 million pesos a year in pork barrel funds as many legislators have been wont to do. He also promised to build 1,000 houses for indigent families in the province. Pacquiao wanted to solve the poverty problem in the province.

Now that his name is being tossed about as a possible candidae for President in the May 9, 2022 elections, it is about time his track record as poltician for a decade now is scrutinized under a microscope. That need assumes a sense of urgency because in survey after survey, Pacquiao’s name is consistently in the top five possible candidates, even higher than Vice President Leni Robredo. Clearly, his popularity has earned him a substantial political base to make him a serious contender.

Hence, the question begs to be asked: What is the feasibility of Pacquiao’s promise to give every “eskuwater” a home — a condominium unit or a house — in four to five years, without having to pay a single centavo? Coming from Pacquiao, that kind of a promise can easily bite into the consciousness of the poor. Pacquiao, in their eyes, is one of them. He knows their suffering and their aspirations. He shares their frustrations and dreams.

The logical thing to do is scrutinize Pacquiao’s track record as an elected public official, from his six years as congressman of the lone district of Sarangani and five years as Senator.

Eleven years are enough time for Pacquiao to have made an impact on the economy of Sarangani and uplift the lives of his constituents. If Pacquiao was serious about pursuing that goal, significant progress could have been achieved by now, especially in providing free housing for the poor. Perhaps Sarangani could be made a model for inclusive development for the entire country to emulate.

Unfortunately, nothing of the sort happened. There was no miracle that the poor may have hoped for. After 11 years, Sarangani is still poor. In fact, it holds the distinction as one of the 20 poorest provinces in the country. That fact is rather strange, because Sarangani is next door neighbor to General Santos City, a highly-urbanized city labelled as the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines.” Its capital town of Alabel is only 15 kilometers by car from General Santos. Remoteness from economic activities could not possibly be the reason for its people being poor.

The table above shows that Sarangani in 2015 continued to experience a high incidence of poverty while Pacquiao was congressman. In fact, the poverty incidence rate slighty grew from 46.0% in 2012 to 47.3% in 2015.

What happened to Pacquiao’s promise to pour all his pork barrel into the province? What projects did he implement that should have given an impetus for the economic growth of the province? And with economic growth will definitely come improvement in the quality of life for the people. Obviously, the situation only turned from bad to worse.

At the least, it shows that Pacquiao didn’t know how to make the best use of his pork barrel to bring about a better economy for his people. Most probably, he spent his pork barrel on patronage projects — non-essential projects that made mayors and barangay captains look good but didn’t contribute to progress.

If he couldn’t make a difference in a small province like Sarangani, why would Pacquiao now want to take on a much tougher responsibility of being the President of the Republic? Well, it’s obvious to me it’s all about power. He simply loves power.

Pacquiao promised to build 1,000 houses to poor constituents in Sarangani. That was 10 years ago. How many did he actually deliver? My research shows that he was able to fulfill less than one-half of that number. And here he comes with another incredible promise to provide every homeless Filipino with a condo unit or house, without having to pay a single centavo. His time frame: four to five years.

It’s sad to see that Pacquiao has become the worst traditional politician in the 11 years he has been in politics. His vow to help the poor hasn’t gone beyond the words. Every once in a while, he goes around giving cash to people. But how many got to receive P1,000 from him? It’s not even enough to feed them for a week.

We shouldn’t take Pacquiao’s ambition to run for the Presidency lightly. The man has quite a substantial political base, composed mostly of the poor who are prone to believe his most unbelievable promises. This early, we have to expose him as a fraud. And even if he backs down from a presidential bid, we should make sure he doesn’t get a second term as Senator if only to deliver a strong message to individuals like him that Filipinos have matured.

Punch drunk: Pacquiao’s “platform” of government

Politicians will always have their way of promising the moon and the stars, as the old saying goes. But nothing prepared me to read that Senator Manny Pacquiao promised to wipe out the problem of illegal settlers — or commonly known as “squatters” — if and when he becomes President of the Republic. From the manner he made that promise, it would seem that he really believes his own propaganda. And that is the most dangerous thing that can happen to a politician: believing his or her own propaganda.

First things first.

On Thursday, Senator Aquilino Martin “Koko” Pimentel III broached in an interview with Karen Davila on the ANC YouTube channel that he considered Pacquiao “the best choice” for the PDP-Laban to field as presidential candidate in the 2022 national and local elections. “He has many plans… he has a good platform of government… many people have pledged their support to him for whatever position he seeks,” Pimentel said.

Pacquiao knows what it is to be poor, according to Pimentel. He’s experienced being dirt poor and sleeping on the pavement and now enjoys comfortable living in expensive subdivisions. “He’s seen it all,” he said in Tagalog.

And if Pacquiao would listen to him, he would urge him to declare his intention to run for President by July or August, he added.

There was a time when I held Koko Pimentel in high regard. Being the son of the late Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr., he comes with a good pedigree in principled politics. Koko was topnotcher in the 1989 Bar Examinations. And riding on the good name of his father, he became Senator of the Republic (after initially missing the 12th slot for more than half the term in his first try due to election fraud). At a young age, he rose to the Senate Presidency.

But a principled politician, Koko is not. He is not even a shadow of his father. He was quickly devoured by the corruption of the Senate and learned how to “play the game”. He became a loyal member of the “Den of Thieves”.

Nonetheless, that low perception of the guy didn’t quite prepare me to hear him speak about Manny Pacquiao as if the boxer is God’s gift to the Filipino people in 2022. His remarks in the Karen Davila interview were horrible, to say the least. He didn’t sound like a lawyer, much less a bar topnotcher. Koko spoke like a rotten traditional politician that his departed father despised.

How can he even say that Pacquiao is fit to be considered a presidential timber? Is it because of Pacquiao’s wealth and popularity? Has the standard of Koko’s measurement for a leader gone so low that he will now settle for a brawler without brains as his candidate?

I’m afraid Koko’s mental faculties may have suffered a short-circuit when he was infected with Covid-19 virus a year ago. Even the ordinary Filipino on the street would easily know that Pacquiao is not even fit to be a Senator. He was carried to this position only because of the people’s adulation for his success as a boxer. I must confess I was among those who voted for him; I thought it was a gift befitting his triumph over the many obstacles in life. But never did I expect Pacquiao to demonstrate anywhere near a capabality to be a good legislator.

Koko said Pacquiao has a platform of government. Please spell it out. And let Pacquiao face the Filipino people in a virtual townhall meeting so he can be asked questions live on social media. This will allow the electorate an opportunity to dissect that platform of government, if it does exist, and be persuaded by Pacquiao. As of now, I haven’t really encountered any “platform of government” other than this out-of-this-world promise to eradicate the problem of illegal settlers.

Perhaps Koko and Pacquiao can elaborate on this so-called platform. How does Pacquiao hope to accomplish it? I am sure that even if he spends his lifetime winnings as a boxer, he won’t be able to get past 5% of fulfilling that promise. It is completely delusional.

As the “intelligent” person between the two of them, Koko should counsel his friend that he will be the laughingstock of the country if he continues talking this way. Koko’s behavior is trash. His father is likely to turn in his grave at seeing his son deteriorate into the kind of politician he spent a lifetime trying to eradicate from our society.

Tweeting the Pacquiao-Margarito fight

Yesterday’s astounding victory of the Pambansang Kamao kept the entire nation glued to their television sets, shouting and applauding as Manny Pacquiao landed precision jabs almost at will, battering his foe Antonio Margarito so badly that the Mexican was a beaten man as early as the 5th round. But I wasn’t able to flail my hands in jubilation as those rapid combitions tore through Margarito’s defenses and even shout, because I was also focused on posting tweets about the bout on my Blackberry. Here’s a run-down of the tweet-by-tweet analysis of the fight on http://twitter.com/boymejo/:

Pre-fight: The audience, mostly barangay captains from the 4th district of Iloilo province, started to arrive at the Jaro residence of former Governor Niel Tupas Sr. as early as 9:30 a.m. There was free-flowing coffee, peanuts and biscuits. Nobody talked about politics. It was all about how Pacquiao’s upcoming fight against Antonio Margarito. Will size matter? Or is it speed? Patriotic pride filled the air. Everybody was rooting for Pacquiao.

My first tweet at about 11:00 a.m.-

-“A sizeable crowd of barangay captains watching the big fight at the Jaro home of ex-Gov. Tupas. Go Pacquaio!”
As the last undercard bout was being fought between Mike Jones and Soto-Karass, I gave my analysis on the reported “weight difference” of 17 pounds between the two fighters:
-“Pacquiao lighter by 17 lbs. That means he will go against a bigger, slower target. “Impatso” will also knock Margarito down.”
-“The add’l weight of Margarito is unburned energy. It will make him sluggish. Nobody eats like that and still fight well.”
Gov. Tupas and I took our seats about 10 feet from the wide LED TV set where about 200 people had already settled when the last undercard bout was finished:
-“We are now seated on the ringside. Right in front of wide-screen LED hehehe. Excitement fills the air!”
The “Lupang Hinirang” was sang by Zyrene Parsad and saw that it was Bacolod City Mayor Bing Leonardia waving the Philippine flag:
-“Mayor Bing Leonardia is waving Philippine flag”
-“Crowd here is silent with anticipation”
Then, Manny Paqcquiao entered the arena and did his traditional sign-of-the-cross and raising his hand upwards in veneration to God.
-“I like Pacquaio’s gesture after making the sign of the cross; ‘Lord this is for You'”
With Pacquiao now in the ring, I made my forecast:
-“My fearless forecast: Margarito to go down in 5 rounds!”
It didn’t take long before both fighters exchanged rapid punches and counter-punches after the bell rang for the first round. Pacquiao grabbed the initiative and kept up a barrage of accurate jags and uppercuts against the Mexican.
-“Rd 1 Pacquaio”
In the second round, Pacquiao sensed a hesitation in Margarito to engage him in a toe-to-toe duel. Margarito saw that Pacquiao’s quick hands flew past his defenses the moment he tried to attack. Manny stepped up the attack. Clearly, it was his round.-
“Rd 2 Pacquaio. I smell a knock-out!”
The TV commentator saw the brilliant strategy being carried out by Pacquiao. I tweeted about it, too:
-“Nice crisp combinations as analyst put it”
During the 3rd round, Pacquiao hit Margarito with a powerful punch that a shudder was perceptible in the Mexican’s upper body. Pacquiao was going for the kill.
-“Pacquaio dictating the tempo. Little mice roaring hard at the big cat!”
Entering the 5th round, I saw that Pacquiao was dominating the fight. This was the round when I expected Margarito to fall. He looked unsure of himself by now, and spent more time hiding behind his gloves. But he held steady, and the knock-out didn’t come.
-“Only an accident will make Margarito win. The fight belongs to the Pambansang kamao!”
-“Fight is all but over. It’s Pacquaio by a mile. Expect a KO any time now”
In the 6th round, Margarito landed a jarring uppercut that shook Pacquiao. The Mexican wasn’t giving up the fight.
-“For a few seconds, Margarito revived his hopes for a victory only to be smoothered again by flurry of punches. Still Pacquaio for 6th”
Pacquaio simply shook off the impact of the strong uppercut. His confidence level hadn’t ebbed, and at one point, he even gave a display of fancy footwork, a shuffle,  to the delight of the crowd. He wanted to show Margarito that he wasn’t at all threatened or intimidated by the size difference.
-“Fancy footwork for Manny. Not getting enough work out”
The incessant jabs that landed with pinpoint accuracy to Margarito’s face reduced it to a red pulp. @sagadasun (Dean Jorge Bocobo) tweeted that Margarito had become the Tijuana tomato. I tweeted back:
-“@SagadaSun overripe tomato”
The bout had turned into a lopsided match. Pacquiao was hitting Margarito almost at will. I tweeted:
-“This is the Tijuana massacre”
-“Pacquaio fires almost at will”
-“Go for the KO!”
I read one tweet that cosmetics surgeon Vicky Belo was watching the fight from the ringside. With Margarito’s face now swollen up and torn up, I tweeted:
-“Vicky Belo is at the ringside to give Margarito a face job after the fight. Not a single round for Margarito”
At the start of the 10th round, Margarito’s eyes were almost totally closed, and the referee took a few seconds to make sure he could still continue to fight:-
“Referee gives Margarito a quick visual test”
Pacquiao lands another combination, and I tweeted:
-“Margarito wobbles. Throw in white towel!”
I was wondering why the Mexican corner was allowing their fighter to be slaughtered. I felt it was time to throw in the white towel. When it didn’t happen, I hoped the referee would do his job to end the cruel pummeling that Margarito was getting:
-“Referee should stop fight”
At this point, Pacquiao even threw a quick glance to the referee to check if he would do so. I tweeted:
-“At one point Pacquaio looked at ref if he will stop fight. Na-awa sya kay Margarito.”
Pacquiao knew Margarito was dead meat, and as the 12th round came up, the Filipino champion simply danced around the ring to avoid having to punish his foe harder until the final bell rang. When it did, the whole world erupted with cheers and jubilation: Pacquiao was the new WBC super-welterweight champion of the world! It was his 8th division championship belt, the most that a single fighter has won. I tweeted:
-“Absolutely the greatest boxer of the world — MANNY PACQUIAO!”
Reporter Raffy Tima made the observation that Pacquiao was a gentleman to the end that he didn’t go for the kill anymore. I replied:
-“@raffytima pacquaio isn’t a cruel fighter”
As the verdict, which was obvious anyway, I took the occasion to tweet something light:
-“Pacquaio rushing to get to next engagement: his concert! Viva Pacquaio!”
Then I added a post-fight remark:
-“Margarito never stood a chance. Pacquaio had the bout in the bag as early as 3rd round”
-“Floyd Mayweather is hiding! Doesn’t want to face Pacquaio after watching bout”
As the celebration erupted, another journalist @gangbadoy tweeted that Margarito deserved the beating as he had mocked Freddie Roach on his Parkinson’s disease. I replied:
-“@gangbadoy now it’s roach’s turn to mock him about his pulpy face”
So many celebrities around the world also watched the fight. One tweet that I came across came from Paris Hilton, which I retweeted:
-“Retweet if you love Pacquiao! Who watched the fight?”
It was a great moment for every Filipino. Pacquiao lifted the national spirit once again. He has inspired his countrymen that with hard work, dedication and God’s grace, everybody can also climb great heights. Mabuhay ka, Manny Pacquiao!