(In which seven is the number of the day.)
After watching HBO’s 24/7 Pacquiao – Cotto, I had a strong wish for Manny’s victory I even prayed for it before I slept. Was it overconfidence oozing out of Cotto or I just misunderstood him? Honestly, when he said that Puerto Rico will be rejoicing on November 14 and he will bring home his belt on his shoulder, I felt vexed. Not that I’ve never heard that statement from a defending champion but it’s just that Manny never sounded that sure about winning not even when victory seems to be as certain as he’s a six-time world champion – at least as far as I know. I don’t mind Freddie Roach saying Joe Santiago lacks experience and Joe Santiago saying Freddie Roach has a habit of trash talking the opponent’s trainer. It’s Pacquiao and Cotto who’ll be in the ring anyway.
When I saw Pacquiao training and Cotto refusing to have some of his sparring filmed, I felt the same way as when I watched 24/7 De la Hoya – Pacquiao. It feels like victory.
The Hours before the Fight
Since I was the most nocturnal member of the family, I had the burden of relating what the other people missed on 24/7. I tried my best to recall what happened in a disinterested manner. But the image of Cotto walking like a gangster with his prominent lips which give you the message “Don’t mess with me” was so tattooed on my mind I was quick in saying “He seems arrogant. I hope Pacquiao wins.”
We Filipinos were sometimes known for going for underdogs. Some say it’s the reason why we cry over Cinderella-inspired dramas where the bullied and abused maid will someday turn into a wealthy and beautiful princess. I am sometimes guilty of this. After knowing that Pacquiao is more favored in terms of bets, it gave me the feeling as if Cotto is the underdog now considering that many think it will be an easy win for Manny regardless of Cotto’s rank. But I don’t think I’ll be going for the underdog now. Not because I’m Filipino but because Cotto isn’t fit for the term. He even has the certainty that he will win. Underdogs have hope; champions, confidence. But whether Pacquiao saying “I’ll try to win” and “I’ll do my best “ is a manifestation of hope, or humility, I am not certain.
But I do pray he wins.
During the Fight
We were still stuck clueless when the world must have finished sighing and rejoicing. But when you’re waiting for a late telecast, you have no other choice but to settle to hearsays people give you in passing. It’s a good thing that we hear positive hearsays. Thank you, technology.
My mom’s friend messaged:
“Cotto went down twice before the twelfth round.”
“Vesh, it’s over. Cotto can’t take it anymore. Hahaha.”
A neighbor said:
“We watched it at the big screen put up in town. Pacquiao won at the twelfth round. No they didn’t even finish it!”
“It’s a TKO, then,” my father responded.
Now that we know what the ending is, the only thing left to do is to know how it ended. Watching it on a late telecast only gives us the real account of what happened for the sake of feeding our curiosity.
As the Philippine national anthem was sung by La Diva, (I never knew a trio can sing in a boxing match!) I brushed away the thoughts of hearing Lupang Hinirang in a tempo di marcha. I’ll take Kyla anytime.
After the significant scenes like the entrance and introduction of boxers and the different rounds which are aired in a matter of two or three minutes (or less) there will be five-minute commercials in between – which are not at all bad since I can always go back to washing the dishes after each round.
We all agreed that round first goes to Cotto. But the rest goes to the Filipino. Every time Cotto hits Pacquiao, (though it seems that Pacquiao intentionally lets himself be hit at times) the crowd goes wild. But when it’s Pacquiao turn to hit the Puerto Rica, the crowd goes wilder.
Now to give a better account of the action, I will be in need of Chino Trinidad and Bryan Villoria. But, in my non-sports analyst way of looking at it, it was a great fight. With De la Hoya and Hatton not even able to last until round 9, Cotto sure made himself look better. As the fight becomes bloodier, I started to cringe.
“I wouldn’t be able to give him another punch if I were his opponent,” my mother said sympathetically.
“That’s why you are not a boxer,” my father laughingly responded, not taking his eyes off the TV.”Besides, Manny doesn’t seem like he’s going for the kill.”
Cotto seems to be more of an underdog now. He gives out punches for the sake of punching and executes his choreographic footwork I saw on 24/7 which seems like an escape scheme. Villoria describes him as “being on his bicycle” when he (Cotto) does this and believes it’s just a way of “surviving another round”. He cannot go any further, I thought. Pacquiao is even motioning his gloved fist toward his own face as if telling Cotto to go get it somewhere in the 9th round. But it was no use. Cotto kept cycling away from Manny. And when the referee motioned Pacquiao to his corner and ended the fight, the obvious verdict was made official.
No one in his sanity will say it is an easy victory. Manny has given so much but he also received a lot. Cotto is indeed unordinary.
What impresses me most was when I saw Cotto’s tattooed arm on Manny’s shoulder while he knelt on his corner to pray. When Manny stood up, Cotto embraced him and patted his head with his gloved left fist.
“He’s the only one I saw who did that,” I said. “I mean the one who went to Manny’s corner and embraced him after he prays.”
“His overconfidence must have subsided now,” my father responded. “Look. He’s undefeated. Margarito’s victory over him is invalid. This is his first real defeat. And he must have developed a strong respect for Pacquiao.”
So defeat makes on humble?
“I would be expecting a rematch if I were you,” he continued. “If Manny’s not going up for another weight division, it’s possible. Besides, a defeat like this is never easy to accept.”
So defeat makes one more determined?
The Historical Present and The Awaiting Future
The name of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. as the next to face Pacquiao echoes at the MGM Grand. But when asked about it, Pacquiao said this will be his last weight division. So a rematch is possible?
"Right now, I just want to take a vacation," he said in an interview after the fight to which my sister commented, "He's having epistaxis. I bet he'd rather be in another fight than be in an interview."
And besides, why would he be thinking of Mayweather now when he has an upcoming concert just days after the fight and a hero's welcome at the other side of the world upon his return?
A great Puerto Rican boxer and the Pound for Pond King. A world record of seven championships won in seven weight divisions and a cheering nation. That’s how a historical match is made.