MANILA, July 10, 2006 (STAR) THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco - Interested readers hurriedly e-mailed this writer in response to the question posed in our piece last Saturday: Is Manny Pacquiao worthy of being considered one of the greatest Filipino athletes of all time?

We placed certain parameters of course, such as the bottom line of achieving a world of Olympic title, maintaining the excellence for an extended period, beating quality opposition, and being adored by the public. As per those qualifications, we presumed that Paeng Nepomuceno, Bata Reyes, Flash Elorde and perhaps double Olympic gold medalist diver Victoria Manalo (a.k.a. Vicki Draves) could be considered the greatest of all time.

Our first Alla Klar ( sends his two cents’ worth from Chicago, Illinois:

"In reaction to your article today, I agree with you 100 percent. Manny has the potential of being one of the greatest in the world of boxing and the greatest Filipino boxer ever. I have seen many a Filipino boxer win a title and blow it all. There was Espinosa, and Dodie Boy (Peñalosa). Unfortunately, our fighters have the tendency to get lazy once they achieve fame, they spend their money foolishly and lose their good training habits, in Manny I’ve already been impressed, although he does slack off on his training, he’s always fit and has the stamina he needs when he fights, but if he keeps this up it seems that even he will fall. In Freddie Roach, Manny has found a great teacher, Manny’s skills and technique have improved 100-fold from the first time I saw that one dimensional fighter with a killer left, but now he’s a whole new fighter.

If he can just keep his training habits and follow Roach’s advice and like you said stick around for a few more years he can secure that greatest.

"Before anyone gets mad about the greatest Filipino Boxer Ever remark, take note that only Filipinos and real boxing aficionados really know who Manny Pacquiao is."

Meanwhile, this unanimous decision from Carlito Agner ( writes from another part of the US:

"I’ve followed your articles here in The STAR online now that I am living abroad. Comparing Manny’s feats to the past champions we had is not fair in my mind. Athletes nowadays are better trained, have better equipment, and simply have more information available to make them better, faster and stronger. On the other hand, these same athletes can also be easily lured to the good life due to more money, and therefore their abilities deteriorate as quickly. Apply that to boxing where the contest is to literally destroy your opponent physically and so your fortune multiply. Consider also, that, in Manny’s case, the last five or six fights he made were not against patsies and weakies. So I say, everything is being considered in the right context, Manny Pacquiao is one of the all-time Filipino greats."

Bernard Quirino ( for his part, adds that time will be the final factor in ranking Pacquiao.

In my personal opinion, if Manny can bowl Morales on their third fight and line up Marco Antonio Barrera next and win that too. Manny will be next to God, and will surely be the pound for pound king and no doubt the Asia’s best! Thanks!

Lawyer John Andrew de Guzman ( gives his own advice on what if would take to withstand the test of time.

"Pacquiao is not yet there at the moment, but the accolade of being hailed as the Greatest Filipino Athlete of All Time is within his reach. All he has to accomplish right now is to become a legitimate title holder and as you’ve said, "hang on to his title for a couple of years. Manny should thus set his sights on Barrera because the latter is the recognized world champion. He may be past his prime but he still has the belt. Pacquiao may have all the fame and fortune but all he’s got to show is an "international" championship belt, which many people mistook for a real title but is actually nothing but a ‘consuelo de bobo’ for contender.

"Manny should also start focusing on his craft. He is first and formost a professional boxer and a skilled one at that, so he should forget about show business. He must also be prudent enough in choosing his endorsements. He is a world-class athlete so his endorsement of alcoholic drinks is a big no no. I don’t remember Muhammad Ali or Michael Jordan endorsing Budweiser or Johnny Walker Brandy, he must practice discipline. We’re not trying to suppress his right to be who he wants to be but we also wouldn’t want him to end up like those boxing champions before him. Nobody cares for or even remembers Navarrete and Espinosa right now."

And seemingly in connection with that sentiment, our old friend Hermie Rivera sent us a plea on behalf of former world champion Luisito "Lindol" Espinosa.

"I read your fine piece on Pacquiao, truly a meaningful reminder on which his irrational sport is all about. The guy continues to reap reams on write-ups and no one can question that doting adulation heaped by the press on his deserved fistic accomplishments.adulation heaped by the press on his deserved fistic accomplishments.

"But, hindi naman tayo kaya nakakalimot sa mga ibang deserving fighters who have brought so much boxing glory to our country–citing specifically the case of Luisito Espinosa, whose unpaid purse owed by his promoters led by ex-Gov. Larry de Pedro, promoter Rod Nazario and matchmaker Lito Mondejar remain unresolved for over 8 years.

"We’ve filed a civil suit for collection before judge Rosario Cruz RTC Manila– walang nangyari. Luisito has written President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo– walang nangyari. Lindol has written Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Hilario Davide– walang nangyari. Similar appeals to both houses of congress – lalung walang nangyari. And the judge continues to take her time in deciding the case, an outrageous legal stance taken by one sworn to uphold the majesty of the law ika nga.

"Before I go my dear Bill, let me re-state two queries posed by our mutual buddy from Sacramento: What have you done to a man whose life is more than boxing–it’s about being an ambassador of the Filipino culture? What have you done to a true hero who succeeded to bring down the giants of his game AND GIVE US IMMENSE PRIDE AS A PEOPLE?"

I can feel Hermie’s pain, knowing how his relationship with Lindol has survived so much over the decades. Perhaps our present champions like Manny Pacquiao can use their newfound influence to help those who paved the way for them. Louie has suffered enough.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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