Knockout by politics


Manny Pacquiao got knocked out in the sixth round of his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.

Speculations, of course, ensued on whether this was a clear sign of aging, or carelessness, or lack of training, or too much confidence or too many distraction. Even people close to him have opined that it was his change of religion that did it to him.

I suppose that what happened was that he walked into Marquez’s fist when he least expected it.

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However, it is also a factor that he fought at a time when he (and his family) is also preparing to run in the political race in his province of Sarangani.

The distractions of preparations for a political campaign certainly added to the problems of Pacquiao’s boxing career.

When you are engaging in a world-level competition, professional or amateur, it is a cardinal rule (or even a truism) that one has to concentrate on it—sometimes blocking all other unrelated activities.

Pacquiao, for the past five years of his professional career, broke this rule almost casually.

He launched a movie and a commercial ad model career, he indulged in a frenzied high-living lifestyle, and he invested in numerous businesses.

To top it all, he launched a political career—starting with an ill-fated bid in 2007 for a congressional seat in his native General Santos City.

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Learning his traditional political lesson, he moved out of the city to the province of Sarangani outside, dealt with the ruling families there and became the honorable Representative Manny Pacquiao.

Now, he wants to build the Pacquiao political dynasty, with himself running for Sarangani governorship, his wife Jinky running in his place as Sarangani congressman, and his brother trying another run at General Santos congressman.

Surrounding himself with a mixed bag of political consultants, including former Manila Mayor Atienza and Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson, Pacquiao felt confident that—in a political contest marked by traditional rules of politics—he (and his family) will win in the 2013 elections.

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Alas, it seems that this may happen at the expense of his boxing career.

The knockout punch of Marquez has put to doubt his preparedness, nay, even his fierce resolve, to maintain his standing in the boxing world. It also puts to doubt his political career.

As the saying goes, a dog cannot serve two masters. Pacquiao may have reached his decision crossroad.

Ramon Casiple is a well-respected political analyst. He is also the Executive Director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER).