Will faith make Pacquiao a better boxer?
MANILA, Philippines - Eight-division boxing champ Manny Pacquiao isn’t retiring just yet but his recent declarations of faith have led many to believe his storied boxing career may soon be coming to an end.
In an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel, Pacquiao denied that God told him to hang up the gloves after his upcoming bout with WBO light welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley on June 9.
“I follow the commandments of God but you know that it’s bad,” he told Headstart host Karen Davila while making a punching motion.
“[God] said: ‘Love one another.’ When you hurt your fellow man, it’s against the law of God,” he added.
So does he believe boxing is against what God wants for him?
“Yes,” he answered.
Davila then ventured: so why did He make you so good at it?
“Siguro ito yung paraan para makilala ako sa buong mundo hindi lang sa Pilipinas. Nung nandiyan na ako, siguro talagang calling lang yan para sa akin na tinawag nya ako para para ispread yung message nya,” he said.
(Maybe it’s the way so I would be known all over the world, not just in the Philippines. When I was finally there, maybe it’s His way of calling me so I could spread His message.)
Pacquiao’s newfound faith comes as a refreshing change to the story of the fighting pride of the Philippines who is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers in the world.
He currently holds a 54-3-2 win-loss record and has a record eight world titles in as many weight divisions.
Pacquiao, who has a weekly TV show and was elected to Congress in the last election, often credits God for his success in the ring. However, his confession has also run counter to tabloid reports of his womanizing and gambling.
Pacquiao admits vices
In the TV interview, Pacquiao said he has had his share of vices – wine, women, gambling - but has shed all of them.
He admitted his marriage was on the rocks in the runup to his November 2009 bout against Miguel Cotto after he was linked to another woman. While his marriage survived, reports of his gambling and womanizing continued.
That all changed, however, when he won a closely fought match against Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez last November 12, 2011. Many sports commentators, including some in the Philippines, believe Pacquiao lost the fight.
Pacquiao said he reviewed the video of his fight and knew he won just by counting the punches he landed against Marquez. He admitted though that he underestimated the Mexican challenger and failed to do plyometric exercises before the match.
“I’m not questioning those who doubt my win. They just got used to me winning easily in every fight,” he said.
He added: “If I had no faith in God, if I did not pray, I would have lost. It was a close fight. Not every fight will be easy. Those kinds of fights will come.”
‘The old Manny is gone’
Pacquiao previously shared with ABS-CBN how an encounter with God made him do an about-face to his old ways.
He said he has immersed himself in Bible study and spends more time when not in training with wife Jinkee and his four children. He even invited a friend, Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson, to join the Bible studies.
The change caught the attention of the influential Catholic Church in the Philippines, which asked the boxing champ to follow in the footsteps of NFL hero Tim Tebow and become a "bible ambassador."
Recently, he gave his testimony before a group of parish priests who marveled at Pacquiao’s knowledge of the Bible.
“I am happy that here is a man who walks the talk, who does not only talk but he lives his thing especially his own experience of conversion,” quipped Bishop Romulo dela Cruz of Kidapawan.
Pacquiao sums it up even more succinctly.
“The old Manny Pacquiao is gone, the new has come,” he told Davila.
“What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If you have that kind (of fruit) - love joy, peace – how can you continue to do evil?” he added.
A better boxer
All these changes, however, have raised concern if Pacquiao still has it in him to defeat his opponents.
In the interview, Davila asked Pacquiao – where will he find the rage to fuel him inside the ring? Will his newfound faith make him a better boxer?
Pacquiao said he believes so.
“When I fight, in the ring, hindi ako galit (I am not angry). I just force myself to fake it, that I’m angry. But after the fight, it’s nothing. I love my opponent,” he said.
He denied that his newfound faith has made him more passive about his upcoming bout against Bradley.
Already, he is preparing to go into training for the fight. He said the grueling schedule includes 2,000 crunches a day, running, sparring and plyometrics exercises.
“I’m starting now, maybe April. If it’s more than 2 months, you’re overtrained,” he said.
He added: “For me, underestimating an opponent is something I will not repeat.”
He also said he is open to a fight with undefeated American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. even with a lesser purse as long as he gets a 50-50 share of pay-per-view proceeds.
“I’d be shortchanged if I don’t get a share of the pay-per-view,” he said.
Beyond the ring, he said he wants to run for governor in the future so he could have a taste of the executive branch.
For now though, he said he wants to do his share of preaching the good news using his own life as an example.
“I am not thinking of becoming a pastor. What I know about the Bible and the commandments of God, I want to share. I am the best example. I came from nothing…to something,” he said.
“Not everyone can box. I am just showing them that all of us have different talents...If you think positive and if you really read the Bible, there are a lot of promises and you can have those promises,” he added.
Natawa ako dito sa mga tinuran ni Pacman.
1) “I follow the commandments of God but you know that it’s bad
2) When you hurt your fellow man, it’s against the law of God,”
3) (Maybe it’s the way so I would be known all over the world, not just in the Philippines. When I was finally there, maybe it’s His way of calling me so I could spread His message.)
4) “When I fight, in the ring, hindi ako galit (I am not angry). I just force myself to fake it, that I’m angry. But after the fight, it’s nothing. I love my opponent,” he said.
Una ay sinunod daw niya ang kautusan ng Diyos ngunit nilalabag naman niya ang mga ito.
Pangalawa sinabi niya na kapag nasaktan ang kapwa tayo ay labag sa utos ng Diyosm, pero ang dami niyang sinaktan sa boksing.
Pangatlo gumawa pa ng interpretasyon niya na iyong paglabag niya ay baka daw paraan upang makilala siya sa buong mundo, ibang klase talaga.
Pang-apat ay hindi daw galit (ipokrito) at pini-peke na kunwari ay galit, may ganoon
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