My apologies for being missing in action last week and passing up my column piece. I was in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for five days with my wife, daughter and granddaughter for a timely timeout to recharge from everyday work, but untimely if I will consider my timing when it comes to sports.
You see, when I arrived at the airport, I learned from a Filipino embassy staffer that Manny Pacquiao had just knocked out his Argentinian opponent Lucas Matthysse in the seventh round for the WBA welterweight crown, and as I predicted, leading to Manny’s decision to continue fighting. And I have to give it to him, Manny was in good form for that fight, much better than the way he fought his last few fights, aggressive all the way but still a far cry from his peak form .
In fact, if these two guys fought 10 years ago, Manny would have finished the fight even earlier. But no, it does dot change my stand about Manny continuing to fight as I wrote in my last piece prior to this fight. Whatever he says, Manny is old for boxing, 39 turning 40 this year, and in this cruel sport, how many fighters have we seen who failed to accept this reality.
I watched some post fight videos on the fight and even from abroad, it was the same observation, Manny can still fight but not the same way as before though he did surprise critics with that performance against Matthysse. Though some of them were already talking of possible fights for Manny in the future against some of the best fighters at present, no, Matthysse was not cited as among the current best. After all, the guy is already 35 years old.
Money and pride for me are the biggest factors why Manny continues to fight. He was supposed to have earned $10M for that last fight and even taking out the tax, it will still leave him a good chunk of that prize money, something he cannot earn outside the ring for sure, and his handlers will continue to encourage him to fight some more for their own benefit.
Again, I reiterate, it is a good time for him to retire now on that winning note that people can remember him for and not to be remembered in the future looking like Oscar de la Hoya after Manny pounded him into his final retirement. Enough said for the matter.
Now another reason why I say my trip there was not timely, when we arrived at the KL airport on the way back to manila, I met a group of Filipino athletes who just arrived for the Asean Schools Games to be held at the Malaysian capital and I surely would have found the time to watch even one event at least and cheer our athletes on, even write about them them. But now, I will just content myself with hoping they would do better than their sixth place finish last year in Singapore.
But then, even when I was in KL, I did check the internet and read that the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) had given the green light to the women’s volleyball team for the Asian Games in Indonesia later this year, and the team is paying for its own expenses except the uniforms which the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) will provide plus the promise that if the team delivers a medal, then PSC will reimburse their expenses.
Now I am a fan of women’s volleyball here and as a fan, I certainly would like to see them competing in the AG even as I know that the chances of them winning a medal or even reaching the semifinals range from very slim to none at all. But as a third party observer and sports columnist, I disagree with the decision to send the team simply for the reason stated that they will be there to gain experience. That reason can be claimed by any Tom, Dick and Harry who is an athlete and has the money to travel and pay for his own expenses even if he is not qualified or has met the criteria set to qualify.
For me, the qualifying event should be the Sea Games or other regional or other international competitions but competitive events, then the prize is an Asian Games stint and if one does well there, then the Olympic games beckon as the ultimate incentive. From what I have been reading online, this was more of a business decision because the covering television group believes women’s volleyball games will bring in advertising money considering the popularity of the sport here.
But then, where do we draw the line on this Have-Money-Will Travel exemption that for me is not fair at all, and that says it all for me.