Limpag: Manny and Magnitsky

Mike T. Limpag

MANNY Pacquiao, once the unifying factor in the country, has lost a lot of fans ever since he joined politics. Proof of that is the call of some fans to include the boxer in the list of people who should be barred entry in the US by virtue of the Global Magnitsky Act because of his involvement in the jailing of Sen. Leila de Lima.

Some have even called for his assets in the US to be seized.

Ouch. But would that be fair? I don’t know the extent of Pacquiao’s involvement in the de Lima case but as for his assets, these were lawfully acquired from his blood, sweat and tears as a boxer. These weren’t acquired through illegal practices, which the act wants to punish.

I’m not a fan of Manny the senator, but of Manny the sportsman. Sure, for some, the two shouldn’t be treated separately but I guess being a sportswriter allows you to treat the two separately. Manny, I think, got a year left in the ring and while some are salivating at the prospect of him being denied entry to the US, I’d like to see him close out his career with a major fight in Las Vegas.

Some are already teasing the possibility of a long-delayed rematch with Floyd Mayweather and I hope that finally happens this year. Barring that, I think Manny should call it a career, having done what no man has done in boxing before him.

His first fight with Mayweather--which came a bit too late in their career--got him into the list of the richest athletes of the decade and I’m pretty sure the rematch would be just as lucrative for all parties involved.

By the way, it isn’t only boxing that Pacquiao has busied himself lately. He also started a league that has revitalized community basketball in the country. Though some may argue that he has no business doing such and should concentrate on his day job, the Manny Pacquiao Basketball League, for me, is a godsend to Philippine basketball.

Aside from allowing players a new option for a professional career outside of the PBA, the league has also given players outside of the Manila circuit a new route to the PBA. Sure, the league has had a few hiccups, the most glaring of which was the game-fixing allegations involving the Gen San Warriors, but I hope the league will find stable footing in the future.

From 10 teams, it ballooned to 30 in just a season so the growth have been phenomenal.