There is nothing wrong if Filipinos will lionize like demigod boxing icon Emmanuel "Pacman" Pacquiao for his scintillating three-round shellacking of Erik "El Terrible" Morales for the World Boxing council (WBC) superfeatherweight international crown in Las Vegas last November 19. I join the millions of Filipinos who celebrate until today his fantastic victory which could be compared in terms of national euphoria when Ceferino "The Bolo Punch" Garcia bagged the world middleweight crown on October 2, 1939 with a smashing 9th round disposal of Fred Apostoli in Madison Square Garden in New York . Pacquiao’s win cemented the reputation of Filipino boxers campaigning abroad as the "Might Atoms" of the orient.
TECHNOLOGY, CABLE TV COVERAGE
Credit goes to the advent of technology; the cable TV which made possible the showing of the megabuck duel "live" direct from the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada through the magnificent "pay per view" (PPV). If not for the "live" boxing coverage direct from the United States , many Filipinos would not know what TKO (technical knockout), KO (knockout), unanimous decision, split decision, majority decision, majority draw, technical draw are all about. Because of the Pacman mania, almost all Filipinos from all walks of life are now talking about the sports that first came into national consciousness on June 18, 1921 when Francisco Guilledo also known as "Pancho Villa" of Ilog, Kabankalan, Negros Occidental toppled Welshman Jimmy Wilde in the 7th round to capture the world flyweight championship, the first tiara pocketed by an Asian prizefighter. It is the media, the wonders of technology that helped prop up Pacquiao as a global sporting icon. Media brought Pacquiao’s electrifying victories to the households making him an overnight sensation and a national heartthrob.
FIRST GRANDFATHER WORLD CHAMP
Boxing configuration was not yet at a fanatical level when Dado Marino, a Hawaii-born Filipino, became the first grandfather world champion in boxing history at 34 years old in 1950 when he lifted the world flyweight bauble from Great Britain ’s Terry Allen. When Gabriel "Flash" Elorde tore down Harold Gomes in seven rounds for the world junior lightweight championship on March 16, 1960 in Araneta Coliseum, only boxing fans that trooped to the newly inaugurated "biggest stadium in the world" in Cubao, Quezon City witnessed the historic event while the rest of the country had to wait for the newspapers to chronicle the bout the next morning and to have a glimpse of the fistic glory scored by a poor man from Bogo, Cebu. The Villa-Wilde fracas was itself the biggest fisticuffs in the world in that era witnessed by more than 20,000 fans (the Pacquiao-Morales III otherwise known as "The Grand Finale" generated only 18,276 ticket sales) according to boxing historians. PPV was not even an imagination when Villa, who stood only five (5) feet and one inch, cut to shreds the taller Wilde who was adjudged by The Ring Magazine (the same magazine that conferred to Pacquiao the "People’s Champion" title) as "the best flyweight champion of all time."
NO PPV IN VILLA’S AND ELORDE’S EXPLOITS
With a ring record of 88 wins, 9 defeats, 5 draws (22 KOs), Villa, 23 years old, the Ilonggo-speaking ring immortal, died ten days after losing on points on July 12, 1923 to the heavier Jimmy McLarnin who would become one of the best welterweight champions in the world. It was tooth infection that killed Villa, by the way, not McLarnin’s fists.
With PPV coverage in his ring exploits, Villa would have outfoxed any popular politician in Manila at that time for any position due to his skyrocketing popularity. Elorde’s reign as world junior lightweight champion stretched to a record seven years from March 16, 1960 until June 15, 1967 when he yielded the crown to Yoshiaki Numata on points in Tokyo .
In all his title defenses against 10 deadly ribcrackers (not only Mexicans Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Hector Velasquez, Oscar Larios, Erik Morales), there was no PPV to bring the action "live" directly from the Filipinos’ black and white boob tubes. Had PPV commenced during that period, Elorde, a plebian and champion of the masses non pareil, (unequaled) could have whipped Ferdinand Marcos and Diosdado Macapagal for the presidency as his popularity among the hoi polloi (common people) and middle class would undoubtedly plummet to a dizzying height. In a nutshell, Pacquiao owes his fortune and stardom in one way or the other to the media.
(But what had Pacquiao given to the media? I have yet to hear or is it yet to come?) /MP