MANILA, MARCH 17, 2008
(STAR) For several hours yesterday, lawless elements took a break, the military unilaterally observed an informal truce and politicians paused from their endless brawls as Filipinos, in a rare show of unity, rooted for one of the nation’s own. It seemed for some moments that the nation was in for a big disappointment, as the prospect of a draw loomed in the match between boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao and Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez. But in the end the judges, by a split decision, gave the World Boxing Council superfeatherweight crown to Pacquiao.

Several police commands happily reported zero crime rates throughout the match, broadcast live from Las Vegas. For the Filipino, Pacquiao has come to symbolize rare achievement in sports, a field where the nation is sorely lacking in international recognition.

Later this year the Olympic Games will be held in Beijing. The Games are a reminder of what the Philippines has not yet achieved: the highest honor in the world of sports, an Olympic gold medal. Pacquiao’s many feats show what is needed to excel in sports: disciplined development of natural talent, adequate facilities for rigorous training, and sufficient support from both the government and interested parties in the private sector.

Proper training in athletics, which ideally should start at a young age, does not come cheap. Many promising athletes are from poor families, and development of their athletic skills is often set aside because of the demands of day-to-day survival. Often, Filipino athletes who excel in regional games are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which has a special program for personnel with sports potential. Military discipline no doubt helps in turning these athletes into winners. But budding athletes who are too young for the AFP must look elsewhere for support in developing their skills. The nation’s jubilation over Pacquiao’s latest victory should encourage concerned sectors to provide that kind of support.

Pinoy fans more relieved than thrilled By Nelson Beltran Monday, March 17, 2008

[PHOTO AT LEFT - People cheer as they watch the live broadcast of the Pacquiao-Marquez match at the Tondo Sports Complex in Manila yesterday. Photo by EDD GUMBAN]

As the ring announcer barked the emergence of Manny Pacquiao as the new world featherweight champion, there was a subdued celebration and some sighs of relief.

It was the scene inside Robinson’s Galleria Cinema 1, and apparently the same atmosphere pervaded in other moviehouses that showed the Manny Pacquiao-Manuel Marquez fight yesterday.

The nation was happy Pacquiao won the bout but many were not convinced on whether the Filipino ring idol really pulled it off over his crafty and gritty Mexican rival.

The decision was silently discussed practically by everybody as they lined up to the exits.

Celebrities Noel Trinidad, Gary Lising and Leo Martinez exchanged notes. Sportswriters Arman Armero and Dominic Menor were in a huddle with GMA-7’s Barbette Atienza, each one having reservation on whether Pacquiao was really the rightful winner.

“It’s Marquez,” said PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial.

“It’s a tough call. Of course, I’m happy Manny won but it’s really far from convincing,” said Francis Macaraeg, an overseas Filipino worker from Valenzuela.

“Manny said his business with Marquez is over but he wasn’t really able to prove he’s the better boxer than the Mexican. Marquez is really a tough customer for Pacquiao. If not for the third-round knockdown, it would have been a clear win for Marquez,” said Sammy Talon, an eatery owner also from Valenzuela.

“Marquez took control most of the way. He landed not only more but the better punches. It would have been all right if it ended in a draw,” said Pedro Santos, an elderly from Cainta.

“Marquez proved to be the right match for Manny. He should avoid this guy,” said Gerard Laxamana, a student from Pasig.

Nonetheless, there’s a swelling of national pride.

“Pacquiao once again showed great courage. He faced a tough opponent but he never backed down. He made me feel proud to be a Filipino,” said Joseph Mirales, another student from Pasig.

For a few hours, Pacquiao again unified the nation while fighting atop the ring in Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There was no anti-GMA or pro-GMA rallies on the streets as supporters all stayed glued to television sets or giant screens put up all over the country, standing united to rally behind Pacquiao one more time.

As in his last fights versus Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, traffic was lighter than the normal Sunday fare with several establishments opting to open late or cease operation during the bout.

There were already happy faces on the streets by 12:30 p.m. as the bout was covered live by DZBB.

“I’m very proud and very happy that once again my son won his fight,” Pacquiao’s mother, Dionisia, said on the radio interview.

She prayed the rosary inside the Pacquiao mansion in Gen. Santos City while his son was fighting.

Streets were relatively quiet from morning till early afternoon as most people stayed home for the bout.

In cities and towns across the country, people from all walks of life took a break from their daily routines.

Rolly Dungca, a jeepney driver in Quezon City, said he worked overtime the other night so he could watch the fight.

“Eh, kahit bumyahe ako, wala rin naman kikitain. Walang tao sa karsada. Parang napaaga ang Good Friday,” said Dungca.

Engineer Ariel Francisco, a construction contractor, cancelled overtime work for his workers.

Golden Boy offers Manny $6 million for third match By Abac Cordero Monday, March 17, 2008

LAS VEGAS – Golden Boy Promotions has offered Manny Pacquiao $6 million for him to face Juan Manuel Marquez a third and last time.

“I’m putting $6 million on the table,” said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer during the post-fight press conference that got a little out of control due to the building controversy following Pacquiao’s close win.

“Come on, Bob (Arum),” said Schaefer as Arum sat, watched and listened to the offer being made by his co-promoter in the highly successful “Unfinished Business” card at Mandalay Bay.

It was so successful that Arum reported a record $3.3 million in gate receipts, something which Arum said he has never experienced while handling a Pacquiao fight.

And calls for a third fight should start mounting by the day.

“There is no better fight out there than have these two guys fight again,” said Schaefer.

But Arum would not budge. He is keen in pitting Pacquiao next against WBC lightweight champion David Diaz on June 28 also at Mandalay.

“And if Manny wins the 135-lb title, then that’s the title that we’re going to defend. If we beat Diaz, then why can’t he (Marquez) be the challenger at 135?” Arum added.

Jaime Quintana of Team Marquez said their boxer would be willing to face Pacquiao at 132 or 135 lbs. But they want it soon, probably in June, and not by the end of the year.

Quintana then had some words with Arum when Nacho Beristain, who manages and trains Marquez, said the outcome of the fight was an insult to the sport and the fans.

“You saw it, Manuel was the better boxer. This is not good for the sport,” said Beristain through Quintana.

That’s when Arum banged the table, rose from his chair and asked Quintana to shut up.

“Be man enough to accept the verdict of the judges,” Arum, visibly irked, told them.

Then Team Marquez walked out of the room.

Manny: I never thought of quitting By Joaquin Henson Monday, March 17, 2008

LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao admitted it was the hardest bout he ever fought but despite several testy moments, he never thought of quitting under fire from Juan Manuel Marquez in their WBC superfeatherweight title match at the Mandalay Events Center here Saturday night.

Pacquiao withstood a furious assault in the middle rounds that Marquez dominated with vicious combinations to the head and body then came to life in the late going to eke out a split decision.

Marquez was floored by a left hook in the third round but recovered to stagger Pacquiao at least thrice before folding up down the stretch.

For a while, it looked like Pacquiao would hoist the white flag as he could hardly see from his right eye with blood from a deep cut in the lid obstructing his vision.

Pacquiao walked back to his corner after the seventh round complaining he couldn’t see from his lead eye. The situation worsened in the eighth as Marquez pressed his attack with Pacquiao unable to track the punches from his right side. Cutman Joe Chavez, however, came to the rescue and managed to control the bleeding starting the ninth round.

“I never thought of quitting,” said Pacquiao in his dressing room after the gruelling battle. “If I lose, they’d have to carry me out of the ring. I don’t fight for myself. I fight for my countrymen, my family and my country. That’s why I can’t quit. I would be a disappointment to everyone. I sacrifice for every Filipino and I want every Filipino to be happy when I win.”

Pacquiao was welcomed in his dressing room by his wife Jinkee, Gov. Chavit Singson, Secretary Lito Atienza, adviser Michael Koncz and brother Rogel. The Wild Card Gym team of Freddie Roach, his brother Pepper, Eric Brown and Chavez were also in the room.

“I was surprised how Marquez fought,” he continued. “I expected him to jab more. I wanted to counter his counterpunching but he made a lot of adjustments during the fight.”

Plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Roth sewed up Pacquiao’s cuts with multi-layer microstitching. The right eyebrow was sewed up with 10 small stitches and the right eyelid, eight. He will undergo therapy to ensure the simultaneous healing of the cuts in Los Angeles before leaving for Manila this weekend. The plan is for Pacquiao to arrive home on Monday.

Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee said she never doubted he would win.

“I know Manny,” she added. “When he’s hurt, he fights back harder. I was praying the whole fight. At the end of the fight, I knew he won. Marquez fought very well and I think he was the toughest fighter Manny has ever fought.”

Singson said when the final bell rang, he was worried Pacquiao would be victimized by a bum decision.

“Manny won for sure but I was afraid he would be robbed of the decision,” said Singson. “Luckily, he got the split decision. His power and his big heart made the difference but I admire Marquez for his toughness.”

No party, champ wants rest By Abac Cordero Monday, March 17, 2008

LAS VEGAS – No “Saturday Night Fever” for Manny Pacquiao here in Vegas.

Pinoys who had hoped to dance with the Filipino champion in one of the trendy nightspots at Mandalay Bay partied without Pacquiao who opted to rest inside his suite on the 61st floor after the fight.

Pacquiao, who needed more than 10 stitches to close a very nasty cut over his right eye, never got to meet his well-wishers because he was brought up straight to his suite from the Events Center.

A flock of fans managed to get inside the suite, but was later on asked by Team Pacquiao security officer Rob Peters to leave and give the boxer time to rest.

Pacquiao, the winner, took some beating during his brutal 12-round encounter with Juan Manuel Marquez. At least a couple of times he looked like he was going down, but each time he managed to stay up.

“I became too over-confident,” Pacquiao was quoted by one of those who stayed up in the suite which had been packed by family members and friends.

“I felt I could handle his punches but I became too confident,” he added.

In his suite, a couple of hours after the fight, Pacquiao could still feel the pain, and at one time even felt like vomiting. Maybe it was just normal for a boxer who just went through a bloody 36-minute brawl.

Because of the toughness of the fight, Pacquiao will not be allowed to sleep – probably not until the sun rises. This should also go with Marquez who’s staying in the same hotel.

Dr. Nasser Cruz, boxing division chief of the Games and Amusement Board, looked after Pacquiao. The boxer’s wife, Jinkee, was also in the room.

“He feels like he wanted to vomit, but probably it’s because he’s too hungry,” Cruz said.

The boxer had wanted to have dinner, but didn’t like the food that was on the table. He asked for fish and as he waited he went back to his room.

The celebration downstairs was just getting louder at this time.

Punch-stats: Marquez connects more blows Monday, March 17, 2008

LAS VEGAS – Juan Manuel Marquez may have plenty of reasons to feel that he won the fight, and not Manny Pacquiao.

Based on the punch-stats released by, Marquez landed and connected more punches than Pacquiao during their vicious 36-minute encounter at the Events Center of Mandalay Bay.

Based on the figures released to the media just minutes after the fight, Marquez threw less punches as compared to Pacquiao, 511-619.

But as far as the batting average is concerned, Marquez enjoyed the better numbers, connecting 172 times for 34 percent. Pacquiao landed 157 punches for 25 percent.

The only bright note for Pacquiao on the punch-stats came in the jab department as he threw a total of 314 jabs and connected 43 times. Marquez threw his left jab only 201 times but found the target 42 times.

In the power-punches department, Marquez was also ahead, throwing 310 and landing 130 compared to Pacquiao who threw them 305 times and landed only 114 times.

“The people know that I won this. I connected more punches, more jabs and I thought I won,” said Marquez after the fight which ended in a split decision favoring the Filipino, now the new WBC super-featherweight champion.

“It was hell of a fight. And we don’t want to take anything away from Pacquiao. But we, and some of the media felt that Marquez won the fight,” said his promoter, Richard Schaeffer of Golden Boy.

“The fight is not about one round. It’s about 12 rounds,” said Jaime Quintana, a member of Team Marquez. – Abac Cordero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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