If the Manny Pacquiao you are a witness to today seems different – that is because he is. His transition is both subtle and glaring at the same time.
Still a professed man of God, he is now devoid of Catholicism, and turned in his rosary beads. Coincidentally, he did this around the time of his first bout with Timothy Bradley in June 2012.
Why does this matter you may ask? Well, because I think it had a lot to do with the outcome of that fight and the fight itself.
Pacquiao’s moral epicenter has been under intense focus since his rise to real prominence in early 2009, and his Christian zeal was on par with Tim Tebow’s at the zenith of his immense popularity.
There were the “BOoM” Nike commercials, various ads and sponsors, movies, commercials, billboards, etc… He was everywhere seemingly, and I’m talking about this from the perspective of being in the US watching this dramatic ascension.
I’d seen reports out of the Philippines that were truly Elvis-like, and it had a lot to do with his passion for God that carried over into his epic ring bravery.
But politics and religion do not mix; no more it would seem of a commercial depicting him - a man of God - promoting Hennessey Liquor.
Once he became a congressman in his homeland in May 2010, he essentially made a pact with the devil on terms he either didn’t fully understand or comprehend. Pacquiao went on a downward spiral of immorality that affected his marriage, moral compass, his faith, and his ring performances.
By the time he got to Bradley, he had begun figuring things out, and because he’s a man of valor – he made a series of bold decisions.
Feeling the Catholic faith was wrought with practiced wrong doing, and uncomfortable with its almost erstwhile tolerance of homosexuality and non-condemnation of many acts of impropriety, Pacquiao left the Catholic Church and publicly stated his disapproval of gay marriage.
It didn’t go over too well here in the states.
I remember thinking when he lost to Bradley, that his decision to fight for God lost him the fight in a political ring. This is only an opinion, but I believe he was sabotaged in that fight at ringside (I also feel the same way about Marquez being allowed to experiment with “things” like his name was David Banner, but whatever).
And he can deny this all he wants, but HBO cameras actually caught Bradley telling Bob Arum before the scoring was announced “Hey, I did the best I could; he (Pacquiao) was just the better man.”
He knows he lost that fight – the difference in talent was obvious, and the whole ankle situation was preposterous. We all saw him jumping up and down on the ring apron, flexing and celebrating his ridiculous victory, and running around the ring before the wheelchair showed up.
Though he was badly distracted by events leading up to that fight, Pacquiao made Bradley look like a sparring partner, and De La Hoya’d his way through the championship rounds ala vs. Trinidad.
This time, he’ll approach Bradley with the same killer instinct he presented to who I believe (and Tim feels the same way about this) was a chemically tainted Juan Manuel Marquez.
If Bradley beats Pacquiao on April 12th, he’ll be beating perhaps the nastiest version of Pacquiao we’ve seen since the Ricky Hatton murder in May 2009.
While he holds on still to his Christian tenet to love thy enemy, he will never-the-less ingest contradiction in his soul, and present Bradley with the wrath of hate.
The only thing that can complete this whole scenario is if we see his smiling, effervescent face coming to the ring with Jay-Z’s “Lucifer” blasting through the speakers.
Wear rosary beads Tim, you might need them.