Thursday, June 14, 2012

Manny is a fighter no more

By Neil Bravo

It was one of those decisions that could trigger a revolution. A war even. Or an impeachment.

In boxing, however, no matter how unpopular the decision it will stay that way.

I have yet to know of a decision that was reversed in boxing of late. The last one was the Joey Giardello-Billy Graham middleweight fight in the 50s which went down in boxing history as the “Reversed Reversal.” Graham was given the decision, later reversed in favour of Giardello, and then reversed again some time later in favour of Graham.

There are no appeals either. Not impeachment too.

Sorry, but what Filipinos can do to a Chief Justice they cannot do to a boxing judge.

I feel sorry for the 188 colleagues of Manny Pacquiao in Congress. They cannot do otherwise to two boxing judges whose decision will have to be part of this nation’s nightmare.

The judges with questionable scorecards are Duane Ford and Cynthia J. Ross (or CJ Ross). Both are Americans. Both from the gambling capital of Nevada.

If you suspect, there is a boxing underworld still existing to this day, and Ford and Ross are part of a conspiracy, that is your speculation. We will not dig on that. But perhaps, someone forgot to think that Manny is fighting an American this time, in America, and in Nevada in particular. There is not what you call a neutral judge—because that, in essence, is not a rigid rule in Nevada.

So Manny walked into a fight on Sunday thinking he will walk away a winner once more. In fact, Nike already produced a signature shirt for him with the imprint—Victory 55. That victory never came. He got stuck at 54.

After 12 rounds, he said he never bothered to listen. He said he liked what he did. Or so he thought. Ford and Ross did not like what they saw. And gave the fight to Bradley, who they thought was the fight’s aggressor.

Manny forgot that he was fighting in Nevada. In Nevada, you got to be the aggressor to win.

From an ordinary eye, Manny won the fight. Fair and square. He hit Bradley more tellingly. He did what a Manny Pacquiao does on a fight. Easily. Ordinarily.

On an ordinary day, you judge a fight by the way the fighters performed against each other.

In this fight, Duane Ford and CJ Ross judged it the way they knew Manny Pacquiao.

Duane Ford has been a jude in five of Manny’s fights since 2006. He was a judge in the 2006 Morales fight won by Pacquiao in 3 rounds and the 2009 Miguel Cotto fight won also by Pacquiao in 12. His record shows a consistency in fights that lasted the distance. He scored in favour of Manny (115-112) in the controversial second fight with Marquez where another judge in the Bradley fight—Jerry Roth—scored in favour of arquez (115-112).
Ford scored for Manny in the Joshua Clottey fight more convincingly 120-108 where two other judges—Levi Martinez and Nelson Vazquez scored a closer 119-109.

Last year, Ford was again the judge in Manny’s fight against Shane Mosely where he once again scored the more convincing scorecard (120-107) while Dave Moretti scored 120-108 and Glen Trowbridge had it 119-108.

The other controversial judge, CJ Ross, was in Manny’s fights in only two occasions prior to Sunday. Both fights ended with Manny pummeling David Diaz via TKO in the 9th round and Ricky Hatton in 2 rounds.

Taken both records together, these two judges had Manny a notch higher in their standards. Naturally, they went to MGM Grand on Sunday with the mindset that Manny will destroy Bradley.

They did not see a ‘real’ Manny on Sunday. They saw a fighter who had lost a fastball. Lost step in a dance beat. Had nothing close to the warrior they saw in the fights where Manny captured global adoration—Diaz, Dela Hoya, Hatton, Cotto.

I must admit, since the fight against Mosely and Marquez, Manny has not been the warrior that he was. He seemed to have lost hunger. Boxing is hunger games in real life. On Sunday, Manny was a diplomat, preacher, gentleman.

He was fighting like a politician.

He was fighting good. Not rough, not ugly, not nasty.

Ford and Ross are electorates not within Manny’s constituency. They were asking more from Manny. They expected to see the warrior in him. Not the diplomat, preacher, gentleman. These judges were schooled and trained to see a fight, not a display of statesmanship or charismatic work.

I admire Manny’s transformation as a boxer who will transcend from his generation. He is a fighter of a different genre. Far from the flamboyance of a Floyd Mayweather. Far from a beastly Mike Tyson.

After the fight, Manny was an image of a winner. Not a loser. He was what you call in beauty business as flawless. He did his rituals after the fight. Looked up in prayer, and hugged his trainer in self-assurance. Normally, it’s the trainer who comforts a defeated boxer. In Manny’s case, he comforted his team like he was saying “we have done our job.”

He was gracious in defeat. You could not ask for more from a champ.

He loved this sport. In the run up to the fight, Manny was seen wearing a shirt that reads: Fight for a better world. At the back of my mind, I remember Michael Jackson tell Paul McCartney in a song, “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

Yes, Manny Pacquiao is a lover. A fighter no more.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why destroy Manny?

Neil Bravo

I don’t know what the BIR official in Manny Pacquiao’s region has in mind when he picked to destroy his best hope for tax revenues.

If he’s a poker player, he just threw away his best card. It’s like trading away Kobe Bryant for a pair of future draft picks. He just spat, shoved, shoo away the man who probably gave his career a footnote in the agency’s annual accomplishment reports.

For a time, Manny Pacquiao was named among the best, if not the best given his stature vis a vis big name businessmen, taxpayers of the country.

Manny is not a minted businessman. He earns his money by taking punches, by getting beat up, or in his case, by evading getting beat up. He earns by training for weeks away from his family hitting the mitts and sparring against bigger foes in a sweaty gym, and running in the hills of LA. He earns by starving himself early in his career in order to meet the weight. He earns by punishing himself, getting whipped with sticks, and all other strategies just to make his body as solid as rock. He earns by getting sliced and stitched in the operating table after a fight. Draining clots and nursing bruises.

Definitely, Mannys is not having the time of his life in a California kingbed when he trains. As the retired heavyweight great Leon Spinks says it aptly, training for a championship fight means eating bolts, nuts and razorblades.

For that, people pay Manny millions of dollars to go up the ring and beat up against the best in the world. Most of the time against men much bigger and taller than him.

For that, people pay a good sum of money to watch him fight on pay-per-view TV. His fights earn from 800,000 to 1.2 million dollars each time.

For that, Nike pays him millions of dollars to get him to wear their shoes and apparel. Nike knows.

For that, consumer brands pay millions of pesos to get their logos stitched or printed in his boxing shorts. That shorts transforms to a Php 5-million advertising billboard.

For that, San Miguel Beer and Ginebra pay him millions to be their drinking buddy.

For that, Head and Shoulders pamper his Justin Bieber hair.

For that, TV networks fight to get him to their stable.

For that, filmmakers made him a movie actor.

For that, President Barrack Obama wanted to have a photo with him.

For that, Kobe Bryant would take a break from playing to shake his hands.

For that, Sylvester Stallone would come to see him train in the gym like the real-life Rocky.

For that, Paris Hilton would like to do business with him.

For that, the people of Sarangani made him Congressman.

For that, some people think he would be good as Senator.

For that, many people want him to run as President.

Wait. Run for President?

For all the many good reasons, this could be where it all started. Where people start thinking Manny could well be our President, that’s where the beating starts. How else could you beat Manny even with your best shot?

Maybe a lifetime not.

You got to hit him where he’s soft. Some people are too brilliant to know Manny’s soft spot. Not his rock-solid abs. Not his steely jaw.

There are only two things certain in this world that man fear.

Death. And taxes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chito takes over


Neil Bravo

My kumpadre Chito, an engineer now based in Saudi Arabia and a dyed-in-the-wool sports fan, wrote me an email expressing his thoughts on the recent issues hounding the Philippine Azkals.

Although working far away from home, Chito is not detached from the happenings in sports and politics. Social media has provided the link between him and the country in the same fashion as other Filipinos working overseas are linked to their families here.

Chito says he even starts his mornings reading the Edge online.

I will give this space up for Chito’s thoughts as he wrote:

Dear Pareng Neil,

I am glad to know that Hangtime is back and served daily. I can now look forward to starting my day in front of my laptop with a cup of Arabian coffee and dates on the side. This to me is a perfect way to start a day. Sorry to have not spent a round of golf with you in my last return as I have been hooked more to photography these days.

I think it is very saddening to know that the Azkals have been mired in controversy at a very crucial point of their stint as a national team. Likewise, it is more saddening to know of some unwanted remarks from some media back home regarding the Azkals being less than real Filipinos.

What a shame to have come down to a level of a rumor-mongerer and pass one’s uneducated judgment.

I wonder what is going on to the minds of these people? Here in the Middle East, thousands of Filipinos like me labor under the most extreme conditions and miles away from our families. We have learned to embrace this life as opportunities in our country are not that rosy. OFWs like us live from day to day energized by the fact that we are the lifeblood of an economy that thrives on OFW remittances. It seemed that easy for many, but to us here, there is more to being an OFW than the remittances we infuse to the Philippine economy.

We may not be raising families here, but we belong to those whose lives had to be uprooted from the comforts of our homes to the hostile conditions in an unfamiliar territory.

It pains us to know that someone as respected a broadcaster as Arnold Clavio will refer to those who grew up outside the country as non-citizens. What if I brought my wife Beth here and we bore a child? What if our child grew up in this foreign land? Will he be, as in the mind of Arnold, be less Filipino than say, someone who is born in the Philippines?

This really bothers me.

When I read your piece on this issue and having learned that no apologies will be issued by Arnold or the network, I begin to worry about some of our countrymen here who have brought their families with them. Will Arnold also berate their kids as less Filipinos than a muppet like Arn-Arn?

I think the offended party here is not so much the Azkals but the millions of OFWs and their children. It pains us to know that some people like Arnold thinks that the basic requirement for a citizenship is for one to have his color and for one to grow up in the Philippines.

I hope Arnold opens his eyes and grows up.

Best regards.



Thanks for the letter, Pareng Chito. Keep those reactions coming.

By the way, I admire your photography. You got the eye for wonderful shots and puts life even to a dry landscape of the desert sand dunes. Most of all, you are every inch a Filipino and I am tugging my chest and pointing my head as I am saying this.

Until the next cup of Arabian coffee and dates on the side.

(For your comments, email me at

Monday, March 19, 2012

No apology


Neil Bravo

Arnold Clavio and his employer GMA TV have responded to the controversial issue regarding the broadcaster’s comments made on the network’s morning show program.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, there were no apologies.

Clavio maintained there is nothing wrong in his comments. This was his response as reported on

Mga igan, nakakalungkot na may negatibong reaksyon ang naging pahayag ko tungkol sa Philippine Azkals kaugnay ng sexual harassment complaint ni Ms. Cristy Ramos. Wala po akong ganoong intensyon. Ang isyu po rito ay sexual harassment at kung may nagamit man po akong mga salita na hindi angkop, nagpapakumbaba po ako at humihingi ng pang-unawa. Dun naman po sa mga kasama kong nanindigan laban sa sexual harassment, maraming salamat po. Seryoso pong isyu ito na dapat bantayan.

The network has also made their official response to the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) via It contained in part the following:

Nais po linawin ng GMA Network na ang mga inirereklamong pahayag ay hindi bahagi ng aming news reporting kung saan tanging mga statement of facts ang ibinabalita at kung saan walang puwang ang pagbibigay ng opinyon ng mga host. Ang mga inireklamong pahayag ay unscripted discussion ng Unang Hirit hosts sa commentary segment ng programa kung saan sila ay nagpalitan ng opinyon at nagbigay ng kani-kanilang pananaw tungkol sa naturang issue.

Nalulungkot po ang GMA Network na iba ang naging intindi ng Philippine Football Federation sa mga sinabi ni Arnold. Ang pinapatungkulan ni Arnold ay hindi kung Filipino citizen o kung may lahing Pilipino ang mga Azkals kundi kung naisapuso at naisaisip ba nila ang kulturang Pinoy

And to finally nail down the point, GMA maintained their broadcasters did not commit any racist, discriminatory, libelous and malicious comments:

Sa liham ng Philippine Football Federation, sinabi nilang racist, discriminatory, libelous at malicious ang mga pahayag nina Arnold Clavio at Rhea Santos. Pero ang GMA Network po, walang nakitang racist, walang discriminatory, walang libelous at walang malicious sa mga komentaryo nina Arnold at Rhea.

GMA stood by Clavio, Santos and their program and slammed the issue raised by the PFF. Both GMA’s and Clavio’s sides maintain the issue is the sexual harassment issue, not the perceived racist dig.

Oh well, what can you expect?

The explanation made by Clavio and GMA had to serve their interests—first and foremost. They need to keep their reputation intact against an incensed sports community—particularly, football. By issuing those statements, it was clear they had no intention of taking a serious look on their faults. Clavio’s supposed humbling request for understanding is even conditional. He went on to look for sympathy from the pro-sexual harassment advocates.

Oh well, what can you expect?

These people will not just come down on their knees and ask for apologies. No matter what and no matter how obvious.

It is rather difficult to ask for humility and remorse where the larger interest of corporate image, credibility, marketability, and pride is at stake.

Yes, the main issue in the Azkals controversy is the sexual harassment case.

We do not condone sexual harassment here. We are not absolving the two Azkals concerned. There are just some off-timing elements in the case of Clavio’s comments.

First, any broadcaster who knows his journalism understands that there is such a thing as sub judice which means it is inappropriate to comment publicly on cases sub judice, which can be an offense in itself, leading to contempt of court proceedings. This is particularly true in criminal cases, where publicly discussing cases sub judice may constitute interference with due process.

The case is already with the PFF Disciplinary Committee under investigation it being the level in football hierarchy charged with the investigation of such cases. I understand that the complaint was filed with the AFC but it has to be remanded to the host country’s adjudication level.

If the case is not yet in the court of law is for the complainant to exercise his or her prerogative.

Second, if you are a true Filipino, you do not denigrate a national team moments before they take on a crucial sporting battle on behalf of the country. Prudence dictates to put it off at least when it’s over. Even Cristy Ramos, admire her for her sense of nationalism and propriety, was prudent enough to at least let the issue rest while the Nationals are off to secure history for the country.

Third, the comments were too sweeping. It was made to curse every half-Pinoys in the team and all others of the same circumstances whether Azkals or not.

True, the network has no control of their opinion. But even one’s opinion, in the exercise of one’s freedom of speech, is not absolute. Where for obvious reasons, a broadcaster goes beyond the limits of journalistic freedom, the internal controls of a network can take its course even when the broadcast is taped as live and the remarks come with spontaneity.

If a network can allow such freedom to go unbridled within the context of professionalism and ethics, I am afraid even a muppet may be licensed to berate with impunity.