After the fight
By Al S. Mendoza
LAS VEGAS, Nevada, USA – Manny Pacquiao is not only a brilliant boxer. He is also a good entertainer.
After knocking Erik Morales out in the third round on Nov. 19 (Nov. 18 here), Pacquiao immediately thought of the crowd. He not only wanted to thank them for their support, he also wanted to show his appreciation for their unending applause.
The guy is sincere when expressing gratitude. As much as possible, he would want to touch everybody.
But this time, he knew he couldn’t come down the ring.
It was absolutely impossible for him to shake the hand of everybody.
The 20,000-seat Thomas & Mack Center, a posh arena built inside the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), was packed to the rafters – half of them Mexicans, half of them Filipinos.
It seems like all Filipinos in America had come to this City of Sin to throw their support behind Pacquiao.
You could barely grab space before, during and after the fight. There’s one warm body in front of you, another one to your left and to your right, and another yet behind you.
People are all over you that if a stampede had happened, you’d get trampled to death if you didn’t watch it.
Many Mexicans from the crowd, hostile at the start toward Filipino fans, had become converts after the fight. They must have finally realized perhaps that, yes, their idol, unico hijo Erik, had met his match in Pacquiao.
The third-round knockout of Morales was merely a validation of Pacquiao’s 10th-round carnage of the Mexican icon last January.
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This Saturday evening here, I was right smack into a sea of humanity, watching Pacquiao put an end to an era that was Erik Morales.
After the nine-minute destruction of Mexico’s favorite son the last decade, Pacquiao spread-eagled his arms facing the crowd. The crowd responded with a primal scream that must have echoed all the way to the Grand Canyon of Arizona and the Rockies of Colorado – both States hundreds of miles away from here.
In reply, Pacquiao put up another show very much unlike the one he unleashed in dispatching Morales.
Uncorking his acrobatic talents, Pacquiao leaped onto the ropes. One by one, he climbed the four posts of the ring, keeping his balance on the ropes, arms egging the crowd to keep cheering, while acknowledging the applause that seemed to last forever with both arms going up and down – both palms facing the heavens.
While up on the ropes like a circus fixture doing a flying trapeze act, Pacquiao kept bowing. Each bow was met with hand-clapping, whistling and cheering.
When he was done, Pacquiao got hold of a huge Philippine flag. Still undraped to show his rock-solid frame and a muscle-bound chest that glistened in the klieg lights, he descended the ring waving the flag, squeezed himself out of a throng craning their necks for a final peek of their idol. Many wanted to touch him, as though he had become a demigod descended from Mt. Olympus, if not Mt. Arayat or Mt. Apo if you wish.
The spotlight followed him until he disappeared like a bubble.
Still, the crowd would not stop, couldn’t be stopped. They kept chanting, “Manny! Manny! Manny!”
Certainly, they were still awed by the quickness with which Pacquiao dispatched Morales. The thought of a Pacquiao masterpiece just wouldn’t die that easily.
“It was a bonus that I ended the fight very fast,” Pacquiao said. “I thought it was gonna be a long night.”
Just a day in the office.
Business as usual.
Pacquiao had expected a long, arduous evening.
Morales’ radical weight reduction program did the Mexican in.
You can’t go down to 129 pounds from 160 and not suffer the consequences. Morales did just that and he was lucky to have lasted three rounds.
Not to brag but I kept saying before the fight that Pacquiao could knock Morales out beginning the first round.
Thus, when I saw Pacquiao immediately attacking Morales right from the opening bell, I knew Morales wouldn’t last long under Pacquiao’s early bombardment.
When Morales fell for the first time in the second round, I told my friend, Sol F. Juvida, who was seated next to me (she was seated next to her sister, the Tustin-based Ofel J. Magturo), “Prepare to leave. Morales will not last three rounds.”
She bought me a glass of margarita after the fight.
(For past columns, click http://sundaypunch.prepys.com/archives/category/opinion/general-admission/)