After coming off a stunning knockout-loss to fighter Juan Manuel Marquez last December to defeat the dangerous Brandon Rios by unanimous decision on Saturday, champion boxer Manny Pacquiao is now setting his sights on an even tougher opponent – the devastation wrought in his native Philippines by the lethal Typhoon Haiyan. The storm killed over 5,000 people when it slammed into the island nation earlier this month, leaving a wake of shattered neighborhoods and hundreds upon hundreds of people missing.
Pacquiao, who is under investigation in the Phillipines on allegations of tax evasion, had his considerable assets frozen by the revenue service of his native country. The boxing champ has borrowed thousands of dollars to keep his pledge to aid the many victims of the viciously powerful storm. The Philippines government claims that the legendary fighter has not produced certified tax documents for the 2008-2009 tax year.
The aging champ, who will be turning 35 in a few weeks, silenced most of his critics with his decisive victory over the bigger and younger Rios. Judges only awarded Rios three winning rounds during the bout, with the champ landing more punches and more power punches. Many analysts have been saying that Pacquiao had to either win this bout or retire, after two successive losses and no knockout wins since his 2009 battle against Ricky Hatton. This win sets the stage for the long-awaited fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., although no official word has been released about that fight. Fans are still salivating over the possibility.
“I am willing to fight Floyd,” Pacquiao said on Saturday. “But it’s up to him, if he is willing also.” Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has repeatedly said that the superfight between his fighter and the still undefeated Mayweather would be a fight worth waiting to get right.
“That’s the fight the world wants to see.” said Roach.
Pacquiao’s legendary speed and precision took their toll on his opponent Saturday, with Rios not being able to slow or control the wiry champion. Despite training especially for Pacquiao’s signature quickness and unique style of punching, Rios was unable to come up with an answer.
“His power punches did not affect me,” Rios told sports channel ESNEWS after the fight “It was just his fastness that got me.”
After the fight, Pacquiao told reporters that he had to borrow over $1 million pesos (over $20k) in order to fulfill his promise to the thousands of homeless families affected by the monster storm, one of the most powerful weather events in recorded history, and would be borrowing more to continue aiding relief efforts.
“My victory is a symbol of my people’s comeback from a natural disaster and a national tragedy,” Pacquiao said in the ring after being declared the victor. “My journey will continue. I said we will rise again, and that’s what happened.”
Pacquiao, who is also a member of Congress in the Philippines, had not been in the ring for nearly a year prior to his victory on Saturday at the Venetian Macau in China. He has not announced plans for his next contest, but says that he feels strong and “will fight anybody”. Whomever Manny Pacquiao is pitted against in his next fight, the fans will be there to watch.
By Mark Clarke