CHEERS WERE replaced by sighs. Nobody wanted to leave the theater. We were shocked. Everybody hoped that maybe Jimmy Lennon Jr. read the scores incorrectly. “‘Yun na ‘yon (Is that it)?”, the old man sitting beside me shouted in exasperation. We waited for the climax of the movie pictured mentally by hundreds of millions of fans all over the world – Mayweather, the wife-batterer – blank-faced, defeated, on the canvas after being hit by Pacquiao in a barrage of punches in every angle. It never came.
We were fooled. We are living in a country facing international conflicts on the West Philippine Sea and the government is “exhausting all efforts for the lives of the 88 Filipinos in death row” including the much-publicized Mary Jane Veloso who has “innocent face and will break your heart” as described by Neal Cruz. Poverty is all over the place. Some children roam around the streets of Manila with no clothes on. MRT and LRT have become havens for pickpockets and other thieves. 44 members of the PNP-SAF were massacred, most of them on a cornfield, exposed to enemy fires. Corruption is rampant in almost all levels. And as a passionate people, we placed our hopes in Pacquiao’s powerful fists that we might forget all these, on that bright, glorious day. That we can laugh our hearts out after 6 years of expecting. But then again, it never happened. His camp revealed that he injured his arm weeks before the fight. We believed that “I’ll be at my best come May 2nd”. Or should I say, “We were made to believe”?
Sports breathes from hope. And to engage yourself in sports is a way to relieve the different forms of stress of life. However, if used the improper way, it can be lethal. A promise of escape from reality can be turned into a nightmare that will forever haunt the minds of people.
Looking back, Pacquiao fought a good fight. He never backed down. It takes greatness and strength to take a punch or two to finally get inside Mayweather’s defense and launch one good shot either on the head or to the body. Pacquiao lost some credibility for not disclosing his real condition before the fight.
Boxing has faced one of its deaths that day. At least, the curiosity and interest of millions for boxing may rest within themselves. And while I look forward to Lebron James and the Cavs bagging a championship from one of the major sports in the US for the people of Cleveland, I still cannot believe how expensive the tickets were of the memorial service I attended on May 2. That was the day when I first saw vibrant and lively fans transformed into zombies in a matter of minutes, walking slowly towards the exit – to go home.