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Pacquiao Vs Thurman [Vol.VII]: Redemption

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“If” is such a wistful word.

The most wishful two letter word of all-time conquered by a man more than once. If I could write poems about them I would.

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If you can maintain your poise while everyone else is losing theirs and leaving you to blame. If you can trust in you – when no one else will – and understand no matter what you do, the doubts will always remain. If you can learn to be patient, and with it laws never compromise. Or when being hated — don’t learn how to hate. Or when speaking with knowledge, never appear too wise. And yet blend with crowd, no matter its age or its race.

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I’ll be damned if he didn’t do it. All of it. Saturday night in front of 14,356 live witnesses at MGM Grand in Las Vegas,  40 year-old Senator Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs) became the true WBA welterweight champion of the world over 30 year-old formerly unbeaten Keith “One-Time” Thurman (29-1, 22KOs).

He validated himself in another era beyond his own. For perspective, it would be like arch nemesis Floyd Mayweather defeating IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr, given how he told “The Truth” and openly stated Floyd was too old to want his smoke. It would be like his former sparring partner and understudy, WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter, beating the same Errol Spence Jr to prove he really belongs in his own era. WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford reduced Amir Khan to ash in defense of pound-for-pound preeminence. Think about that, while knowing Danny “Swift” Garcia exposed A Mere Con at super lightweight, where he was dominant before Bud. Shouldn’t he have at least smoked DSG to be so heralded?

No one believes Pacquiao could not defeat Shawn Porter — given what hell Porter would have to endure to defeat Spence on September 28. He’d not be the same, no more than Mikey Garcia may be now after Spence. I can actually see Senator Manny Pacquiao defending his WBA welterweight title against that Mikey Garcia, who would be his Juan Manuel Marquez V, in front of frenzied Filipinos in Manila. It’s almost a miscarriage of justice that he fought Jeff Horn and a referee in his backyard of Australian rules Rugby, while the Philippines have yet to see their icon prizefight on home soil.

He didn’t exactly get Keith Thurman Davey Moore’d in there ala Roberto Duran, but he at least Iran Barkley’d him with aging “Hands of Stone.”

And maybe he doesn’t beat Spence, just as Duran didn’t beat Marvelous Marvin Hagler. But if Hagler truly won over Duran, then Spence wouldn’t really beat Pacquiao. Manny’s the type of dude who’d jump in the fire just to save the smoke. He wants all the smoke — and after it all clears, he may very well have become “The Best Ever.” 

I know he ain’t close to either Sugar Ray… he’s not the “Sweet Pea” in that pod. Still, there’s not enough “Money” in the world to convince a guy who should’ve challenged the vintage game of “Pac-Man” as “Pretty Boy Floyd” to fight him again. There’s boxers and then there’s just fighters; the ones who make the best boxers remembered, if not loved, until the end of time. Guys of uncommon valor, unifiers, with an entire nation behind them that culture depends on. Muhammad Ali and the USA and the world. Roberto Duran and Panama. Julio Cesar Chavez and Mexico. Manny Pacquiao and the Philippines and the world. 

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If you can dare to dream… and vow to make your life complete. And with dignity handle both victory and defeat. If you can withstand life’s trials no matter the cause or reason, and never feel compelled to return acts of treason. If you can raise your head high when you are shown disrespect, and give of yourself when you have nothing left. 

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He’s the closest thing to Ali we’ve ever seen. He renounced Catholicism much in the same way Ali joined the Nation of Islam. He refused to sacrifice Humanity while fighting for Mankind.

Keith Thurman, often marching to the rhythm of aggressive retreat after being shocked to the canvas, left a lot of his work undone by his own doing; finding a way to either let Pacquiao get back in rounds or steal them out-right. Just when his “Game Over” proclamation seemed somehow on the cusp, the legendary gobbler of energy would insert more coins, unleashing a savage attack to the body in between torrents of singular head strikes from all angles with waves of volume. “One-Time” did indeed face “All-Time” as Freddie Roach said he would. 

Pacquiao was striking Thurman with maximum authority..

..ensconced in perfect democratic balance, displaying enough gracefully flawed violence to bang his way to a gritty, 12 round split decision victory. He divided and conquered with fairness and equality.

As it were, it was the altruistic heavy bag assault machine of Generation X at the Wild Card Gym since 2001 – Vs – a Millennial Buddhist and scientifically reassembled sharpshooter of arrogance humble pie’d. Days before the fight, Adrien Broner warned of its taste at 4:30 am in a casino, scolding Keith Thurman and his crew for gambling with pride and prejudice.

On the day of the weigh-in, our own Abraham Gonzalez observed a restless Keith Thurman roaming casino floors, seemingly, in search of himself.

On a global scale as sportsmen in these incendiary times, they were as if opposing questions and answers of each other; spiritual or philosophical difference for all that is masculine or has to be. An old man of dated views perched on the cliff of Max Kellerman who sent an Eyes Wide Shut young man over it, if only to pull him back. 

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If for your family you can risk it all, and not be afraid of the possibility of the fall. If you can lose all you had while filled with sorrow, still wipe your tear, and have hope for tomorrow. If you can fight without raising your hand —  and against your will strive to understand. Or if you can speak without uttering a word, and forget all of the negativity that you’ve heard.

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There was no crucifixion, that happened long ago for Manny Pacquiao. He’s long since been resurrected, after a slow ascension back to improbable glory. Bob Marley made a song about it that matters almost more than anything else. Love, in it’s essence, is colorful shades of spiritual fire. And there it was yet again, draped around an exalted eight division world champion with pride, a man in this world but not of it, as I looked down on the ring from an unlofty position in the rafters of MGM Grand. I looked up and saw the same image on jumbo screens, or the arena’s version of the sky. May the rainbow always touch your shoulders.

And this concludes “The Fist Club.”

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About John Gatling

John Gatling

Senior correspondent for NY Fights and author of upcoming book, "The Fist Club." Conscious indie recording artist "T@z" and humanist advocate for the Green Party.

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