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- DENVER CUELLO + VIDEO
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Manny Pacquiao is both a blessing and a curse to up-and-coming Filipino boxers.
He has provided much needed financial and moral support to Philippine boxing and his countrymen on top of the inspiration he bestowed upon not only aspiring world champion boxers, but his entire nation as a whole.
Because of his great feats and accomplishments however, Pacquiao has also unintentionally cast a gigantic shadow over Filipino boxers and it has proven to be somewhat inescapable and hard to overcome.
Filipino boxing fans have been ‘spoiled’ by Pacquiao’s many legendary performances en-route to becoming the best fighter in the planet and it seems as if though every other Filipino boxer should perform and win like Pacquiao to completely win them over. Together with putting the Philippines on the boxing map, Pacquiao has raised the bar quite high. Fair or not, if you’re a Filipino boxer, much is expected, and often times they are unreasonable- especially among the local fans.
That’s why when former world champs like Marvin Sonsona and Brian Villoria suffered losses, many were quick to label them ‘bums’, ‘over-hyped’ and ‘failures’.
And if stars like Nonito Donaire Jr., Rodel Mayol and rising stars like Mark Melligen and Drian Francisco drop their next fight, you can expect a similar chorus from the the peanut gallery.
Take for example the story of Rey ‘Boom Boom’ Bautista. Boom Boom was one of the most heralded boxers during the time when the Pacquiao fever was beginning to set off. Boom Boom was one of the first who was ever given the label — and the burden– of being “The Next Pacquiao”.
That hype and distinction did help land him a promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions, but when he suffered his first loss at the hands of Daniel ‘Ponce’ De Leon in August of 2007, Filipino fans wasted no time in writing Boom Boom off and started calling him ‘Bum Bum’. They didn’t just write the guy off, they practically threw the book away and burned it on a bonfire of hate.
It is what it is I guess. But whatever ‘it’ is, it has to stop.
Actually, Pacquiao himself is no exception. Just two years ago around this time, people were knocking him for barely squeezing out a split-decision victory against Juan Manuel Marquez in their highly debated rematch. Fans have gotten used to Pacquiao dominating big names that when he gets into a war and wins by a close margin, it’s almost as if it’s a disappointment to many. But after his sensational wins against David Diaz, Oscar Dela Hoya and Ricky Hatton in the next 12 months, the wheels of the Pacquiao bandwagon were flatter than Kate Hudson and Keira Knightley from all the new and old fans that jumped on it.
More than two years have passed since that fateful loss, Boom Boom is still only 23 years old- and still chasing his dream of becoming a world champion. I interviewed Boom Boom recently and he told me,“I’m still training hard. I’m always at the gym and I’m still hungry to become a world champion”.
Boom Boom will be fighting this Friday, April 23 in Dubai UAE against Saichon Sotornpitak of Thailand and he assured his fans that he they will see a great fight. This will be Boom Boom’s second fight coming back from a hand injury that sidelined him for almost a year. Despite the layoff, Boom Boom says he is ready, “I’m always in the gym training so I don’t really feel any rust. My body is in condition and I’m ready for my fight this Friday”.
The loss to De Leon wasn’t entirely a bad situation. Now with the ‘Next Pacquiao” label behind him, Boom Boom can finally write his own destiny and be appreciated for his unique talents and capabilities.
Win or lose, any fighter who trains hard and gives it all they got on top of the ring deserves respect. On Friday, Boom Boom takes another step to gaining that respect back from fans who have turned their backs on him, and also prove his supporters right. Forget being the ‘Next Pacquiao”, all Boom Boom ever really wanted was to be the best Boom Boom he can be. And if you appreciate boxing, you’d know that isn’t such a bad thing.
Writer’s Note: Thanks to ALA PROMOTIONS for assisting in my interview with Boom Boom.
(click photo for more of ‘Art’s works’) Dennis “D Source” Guillermo is a freelance sportswriter. You can contact him through e-mail at [email protected] (Artwork by: Art Garcia)
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