By Ronnie Nathanielsz
We find it distasteful to say the least for people to suddenly turn against Manny Pacquiao because of his unfortunate loss to Juan Manuel Marquez and play on that defeat to build up the stature of Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire.
Knowing Nonito the way we do, he would be the last person to be pleased over these distressing efforts because he has extolled Manny many times in the past for his incredible achievements in the ring and his care and compassion for the poor as well as his trailblazing efforts that opened the doors for many other promising young Filipino fighters to get an opportunity to fight in the United States in particular and to show an international audience the skill and courage that are inherent in the Filipino.
For all our admiration for Donaire after covering most of his world title fights thanks to our respected friends - the chairman of the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN Mr. Gabby Lopez and vice president for sports Peter Musngi – we are certain Nonito wishes to make a name for himself not by putting Pacquiao or any other fighter down but by demonstrating his own remarkable talent as one of the classiest fighters in the business with uncanny ring savvy to go along with incredible hand-speed and punching power.
A few fights ago Donaire told an international conference call that he wanted to follow the career path of Pacquiao, an eight division world champion, and wasn’t ashamed to admit it. That is in the character of this fine young man.
He knows that Pacquiao had set the standards and he himself is on his way, having won titles in four different weight divisions.
Donaire has told us that he could probably go all the way up to junior lightweight and capture the title held for some seven-and-a-half years by an idol of his – the late Gabriel “Flash” Elorde. That would make him a six division world champion should he continue – and we have no doubt he will - unless some unfortunate accident happens.
That Donaire may hopefully wind up as a six division world champion as against the eight of Pacquiao doesn’t make any difference. They are both our champions and our heroes.
It is indeed painful to read and hear comments that tend to discredit Pacquiao when for years he has given us untold joy and happiness with his exploits in the ring.
Do we have such a despicable mentality to hang on like leeches when a fighter is a winner and a champion and to abandon him the moment he suffers a setback?
It shows no class and must haunt those who subscribe to the belief that a loser deserves to be orphaned.
We ourselves have had a few differences with Pacquiao but while we sought to explain as best we could his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, never for a moment did we minimize his sterling achievements or fail to pay tribute to him for all he has done to redeem the respect for the Philippines in boxing arenas and in the international community of nations for his humility and care and compassion for his less fortunate countrymen.
Manny Pacquiao still remains as the Philippines all-time greatest fighter ahead, in our assessment, of the late Gabriel “Flash” Elorde whose storied career and unbelievable humility, religiosity and care for his fellow countrymen were the hallmark of a truly good and decent man.
Nonito Donaire, unquestionably the 2012 “Fighter of the Year” stands third in our reckoning but only for now. He may very well zoom to the top as his career marches on but that’s left to a future re-assessment.
Once again its distressing to note that there are a couple of media people who believe Juan Manuel Marquez should be “Fighter of the Year.” The man had his nose broken, his face was bloodied and he was reeling from a Pacquiao onslaught and was behind on the scorecards of all three judges when he caught a reckless Manny with one perfectly timed punch. “Knockout of the Year” yes. But “Fighter of the Year” for the Pacquiao win and a lackluster showing against a mediocre Serhiy Fedchenko. No way!
Bottom line is – especially for the shameful few who have abandoned Pacquiao and turned against him – he is still a champion embraced in our hearts and minds and not even a heartbreaking defeat can make a difference.