Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pacquiao For Progress

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Apologies for my extended absence and I hope to do better in the future but I couldn’t let this one go by without a word.


Anyone who has ever read my work will know where my sympathies extend regarding Pacquaio and Margarito. The two are basically the avatars – polarities – of my boxing worldview so I won’t pretend to offer much nuance or reasoned insight.


I want Pacquiao to give Marg’s a royal beating. Not in some moralistic sense, “the jolly Filipino damaging the cheating and surly Mexican,” though I won’t pretend there’s not some of that here.


No, Pacquiao to me has always represented physical inspiration – man as body-electric, that thin-wild-mercury.


I’ve perhaps been a little eager to overlook his obvious intelligence and refinement of craft; partially due to language issues and his outsized friendliness and good-nature but I make no apologies for that. He’s compelling to me because he’s so physical, joyous, and righteous in his movements. The loveliness and freedom and excitement that comes from seeing a human body so perfectly suited to its task.


In the same way it’s transfixing to watch a nature show featuring a bird of prey in descent, a leopard giving chase, or more apt in this context, a regal steed at the races – Secratariat powering down the tracks while onlookers weep in the stands; that’s what Pacquiao is to me. A human body honed and suited to its purpose. I can’t remark enough on what a rare and perfect thing that is, a true joy for us muddlers and tumblers lurching about in the muck; those of us for whom moments of completeness are so rare and profound in our own lives they are often only spoken of in a religious or drug-filtered context.


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Pacquiao represents a fullness of being that is rare and special, which I call inspiration. A gift from the void that only the select have and is a blessing and joy to watch.


And Margarito? Well, he’s something of the opposite. I’ve always found him unwatchable and unsympathetic, a rebuke to the way I try to justify and enjoy and filter the callous blood lust of this sport. For people like me it’s important to build narrative filters and deeper subtexts to the sport so that it goes beyond blood and bone and moves into history and manhood and craft and the unstoppable forward march of progress.


And Margarito brings all of that into question. A crude slugger, slow, impenetrable. He lacks class not in the sense that he’s a poor kid from Mexico, (Erik Morales, another poor kid from the same streets Margarito emerged from is also one of my talisman of regal overcoming,) but in the sense that he is a move away from boxing as sweet science and towards the crudity of sheer force and muscle. He’s a step away from progress and refinement.


I’ve used the quote many times before, but A.J. Liebling’s take always seems apt to me when speaking of Margarito, “If the animal could beat even a fair fighter, it meant that two hundred and fifty years of painfully acquired experience had been lost to the human race; science was a washout and art a vanity.”


Science a washout and art a vanity. That’s what’s on the line here. Some see it as a moral contest between the loathsome Margarito and the virtuous Pacquiao, but something far deeper is at stake; the narrative history of the sport and progress. The sanctity of class and worth.


True, Margarito will be a full 15-20 lbs larger, but Pacquiao has now taken over the mantle of genius, the surpassing quality of incandescent ability over and above the utility of force. Margarito is trying to queer the game, to turn it around and backwards; Pacquiao is the clever defender of the library facing the torch-wielders.


Of course the moral overlay is heavy and I won’t ignore it. Margarito is a cheater and just generally unlikable and slimy. The vicious pleasure of his loss will be undeniable.


But it’s secondary. Though I greatly admire Evander Holyfield, his worldview wherein the right-cross of the righteous is superior to that of the wicked is deeply flawed.


My own – deeply flawed – worldview can perhaps be framed by the Obama/King Jr/ Parker quote that, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” (The disappointing midterm elections being – of course – a reminder of the cutbacks in the bend)

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Only in my world, and in boxing, it bends towards class and beauty. Do you get it? Do you see what’s on the line. It’s much the same thing I felt when Manny fought Ricky Hatton, only with Margarito’s deeper textures of degradation and Pacquiao’s now inflated importance.


So, with the stakes being defined, am I nervous? Yes, a little. The customary pre-fight antics with a supposedly inferior Pacquiao training camp are unmoving to me, but the size difference is daunting. I can envision Pacquiao trapped against the ropes and damaged by a body shot, unable to appropriately respond and it fills me with dismay.


But I just can’t move beyond my respect for speed and skill. I mean, we’re talking about no less than the co-equal fastest fighter of his day against the slowest elite-level fighter in recent memory. That’s got to tell doesn’t it?


And more importantly I just keep feeling that bend towards justice, that bend towards the big happening. It doesn’t work the way it should, but Pacquiao is clearly meant for bigger things than to fall to a crude villain. Isn’t he? We need more answers than this will provide. Its important to boxing’s ragged march.


Of course that’s a construct, but it’s how I’m taking this one. I won’t hide that my lack of writing on boxing of late has been partially due to the fact that we’ve had a few dour months here. I haven’t liked it a bit and in lieu of real analysis sometimes I just think it’s important to filter ones hopes and pleasures as they come.


And so it is that I see my little Filipino muse standing victorious tonight, arms raised in joy at the surpassing pleasure of being a triumphant body, a genetic and evolutionary gift unsurpassed in his time and a step towards the inevitable victory of grace and science and art in the face of an otherwise directionless universe.


Pacquiao fighting!

23 comments:

dtothelux said...

i don't even watch boxing really, but this was a wonderful and really compelling piece of writing and i now feel like i need to watch this fight. great writing man.

shoefly said...

Thanks, DTO!

Chocolate Bear said...

While I can't endorse your political partisanship (being a moderate independent), I think you're mostly correct as far as the sport goes. I retain some love for the rugged puncher, but the really transcendent moments in this game always come from the quick and the graceful- Pacquiao, of course, is both.

Mark said...

Preach, brother, preach. Reading what you have to say is really the only way I can sleep after the buzz from a Pacquiao fight. The fight itself was far more worrisome than I would have liked, and Kellerman's attempt to be Boxtradamus re: the fight that must be made didn't help. I need to sleep on it before I can come up with another angle to discuss what just occurred, but I will say as much as I thought Pac looked like he was in trouble, and how weathered and old, for lack of a better word, he seemed during the post fight interview...he is still full of grace, rippling with electricity, and just an absolute wonder.

Anthony Wilson said...

I was surprised to hear Max talk of Pacquiao as though he was a bit past his prime. He seemed in trouble at points, definitely took some licks, looked winded at points, and Mark says he looked weathered and old in the post-fight interview - but I think all of that is mitigated by the fact that he was facing such a larger and heavier man. De La Hoya didn't put on hardly any weight and had nothing left; Margarito did.

Kind of crazy for Max to imply that he's slowed, wasn't it?

Brad White said...

Pacquiao has always been one who drives himself to take risks that extends himself beyond the normal limits boxers take. He is inspiring. He appears to like the position of standing on unsafe ground (like Ali, Duran and other greats from the past). Any boxer, or any athlete for that matter, who feels he is standing on safe ground (see Floyd Mayweather) and stays on this safe ground is unlikely to produce anything of value. Cheers to Manny Pacquiao.

JB said...

After watching this fight I can't seem to take anything away from the man anymore he can give and take punishment. And when hurt he shows his resilience by adjusting his game plan. The only way Mayweather can prove he is better than Manny is to beat the pound for pound champ.

ricky roe said...

oh man...that isnt brad aka stone is it? pac admirers and fans must face a cold reality....pac is surely on his way to becoming exactly what most hated about floyd......rpach has the nerve to come out and say "hey we want sergio...but at 147"....translation:uhh yeah we dont want any part of him.....now you want shane mosley? now? what happened to shane after he fought margs? when he was begging for it? when he said ill even go to 140 for it...now after being dominated and a draw with sergio mora hes viable? lol...a joke...just like margs was...a guy coming off being dominated by mosley and then looking pretty crappy against a no name fighter....ohh man..im so inspired by pac! even more inspired by the plumber freddie roach!...nobody does more drains than freddie!

Brad White said...

Hey Ricky!!! What's up? Still having a hard time getting behind Pacquiao I see...well I can certain see how you may not be "inspired" by our man Manny, but look at the bright side...he's at least fighting. And when i say fighting I mean against other boxers, not woman and Barney Fife like rent-a-cops like Rollerboy. Ah, Floyd. Last time we talked, Floyd and his team were denying that there was even negotiations with Pac.LOL. Remember that? Then he said he needed to take another break from boxing. After like 2-3 fights in 4-5 years.LOL. Then he said he made too much money so he couldn't fight again in 2010 (you gotta give him originality points even though he full of bs...too much money.LOL)Now he needs to focus on his legal issues and may not fight for another year or so.....jeeez. As a boxing fan, I wish Floyd like to box more. He doesn't seem to like it very much.If he stops beating up woman and security guards and instead fights other "boxers" like Manny does .....then he may "inspire."

ricky roe said...

haha...it wouldnt matter..if floyd doesnt fight...you make fun of him for it...if he went out and made a crap fight for the sake of collecting an easy check youd be killing him too...thats the difference...floyds not gonna do that at this stage of his career....one day pac will say hes gonna hang em up real soon...and then finally, pacs team(the people who are eating very well off of him), will realize the train ride is over and they will wanna cash out...and then theyll allow him to get carved up by money...cant wait...till then theyll put a check in pacs hand and put him in there with no hopers who dont practice defense or counterpunching....so inspired by mr 8 time world champ...who took a 147 strap(at a 144lb weight limit) from cotto who had that belt handed to him by arum and michael jennings...so inspired by him fighting margs at 150lbs for a vacant 154 strap...damn thats so inspiring...freddie "yeah sergio we want to fight you...you mind putting up those 160lb belts and coming down to 147"...i mean roach actually said wed love to fight martinez at 147...im sure you are eager with anticipation to watch pac vs shane "im 0-1-1 in my last two" mosley!!....and yer right...shame on floyd...because pac and his people have always shown and eagerness to come to the table and make it happen! and bob arum...he always tells the truth! and manny well hes always said hell take the damn drug tests....but why should he brad? right? why should he take a test cause floyd says so? i mean he cant risk losing the big psychological war before the actual fight right? lol

Brad White said...

Ricky....I've never asked what you do for a living. In truth, I don't care, but I know what you should be doing. Working in politics as a spin doctor. Only someone from Washington who is skilled at twisting reality could make the arguement that Pacquiao is "bad" for fighting Oscar,Hatton,Cotto,Clottey and Margarito and Floyd is "good" for not fighting "at this stage of his career?"...ok Ricky. Whatever you say. By the way, do you know what you call the "stage of Floyd's career" that he has done so little boxing?...it's called his "prime." And I've never seen a great fighter do so little of it during his "prime." Floyd has fought a few times in the last 5 years. If he fought alot, boxing as a whole would be helped. It turns people off that one of the best fighters in the world will go to any lenght to get out of fighting: "join the WWE, Dancing with the Stars, retire, say that you made too much so you can't fight again this year because the IRS will take too much?,retire again, beat up woman and rent-a-cops and say you need to focus on your legal problems"....it's a sad waste of talent. To boxing fans, Floyd is like having a really hot girlfriend, that everyone who sees wants, but to you she's a pain in the ass that complains about everything, blows your money, is self-indulgent, doesn't care about you and puts out once a year...most! Manny is the fun chick that puts out all the time.....wait a minute I may be stretching this analogy a bit. Talk to you soon Ricky. I really did miss ya.

ricky roe said...

brad...yer a guy who has enjoyed poking fun at floyds "alleged" financial troubles in the past....for a guy who seems to be so hard up for money..dont u think hed love nothing more than to set up a fight against someone he could easily outclass, who has no real shot at beating him, and take home 15-20 mil for it? ...most would....but the reality is most boxing fans would kill him for it...and then when he wins you kill him for not being entertaining enough while doing it...not letting his hands go or fighting like pacquiao would...so it really doesnt matter if floyd fights or not...if he was lining up fights with guys that are coming off losses(or guys coming off wins against journeymen after coming off a loss)...youd be all over him too....so why gripe about floyd not fighting? ....i didnt say pac is "bad" for fighting who he has...i just think its laughable how people constantly criticize floyd for inactivity and his selection of opponents when we get freddie the plumber draining guys and fighting for vacant titles at catchweights against margs...after having cottos wbo title served up to him by michael jennings...then he says in interviews "wed love to fight sergio martinez...at 147"....real ballsy those guys are!...yer probably one of the few that actually think floyd hit the wwe and dancing circuits to avoid fighting....anyways...different day...same story...the darling vs the black sheep....

Brad White said...

Well Ricky, I've watched alot of boxing in my life. I've seen the "Four Kings" (Leonard,Hagler,Duran and Hearns) in their prime. I watched Ali in the 70's, Tyson, Holmes, everyone. I've always been a fan. All the greats I've mentioned have fought "outclassed" fighters that (perhaps) stood no chance of beating them. Buster douglas stood "no chance" of beating Mike Tyson. Going into that fight Tyson beat Michael Spinks in seconds, Frank Bruno in 5 and Carl Williams in seconds....but Douglas, a 40-1 dog, beat him. Beat his ass. That's why we watch. Even if the greats don't lose, we want to see them fight. That's their job.. After Leonard fought Duran twice, he fought outclassed fighters like Larry Bonds and Ayub Kalule!! After Hearns fought Leonard he fought outclassed guys named Erine Singletary , Marcos Geraldo and Jeff McCracken!!! It's not like we as fans demand that boxers always fight superfights. Floyd's problem is as fans he gives us so little. He's not fighting superfights or outclassed guys....he's a semi-retired p4p great, it makes no sense. That's why he's the "blacksheep" of the boxing world. we're tired of him giving us the finger and telling us how good he is, while sitting in then safety of his "big boy house."

ricky roe said...

oh jesus brad...gimme a break will ya....i can remember the outrage when it was merely mentioned that he might be looking at paulie maligaggi or nate campbell awhile back...which were about as baseless as people mentioning "matthew hatton"...which is a favorite phrase used by many a pac-tard on message board...that and "vacation"......so right now yer telling me that if floyd decided to go ppv against victor ortiz, paulie, or juan urango.....youd watch...and after floyd one his usual fashion youd say "wow great to see one of the best boxers of our time go out there and perform...even the greats like sugar ray and hearns fought these kind of fights too"...and im 100% sure youd bitch about boring style in which he fought and how "uninspired" you were about cause he didnt throw a bunch of 6 punch combos.....try not to b.s us and yourself....little stay busy fights do nothing for floyd...in fact they would probably hurt him....you and the rest of them would be claiming hes milking the game for easy checks...thanks for bringin sugar ray into it....seeing as how floyd made against shane what ray did against hearns, duran, and hagler combined...i can kinda see why floyd is in no rush to get out there and put mayweather vs larry bonds on ppv....i really hope floyd loses one day(ok thats a lie)...because it will make you feel vindicated...everything that is right and pure about the game will have come to pass...in the meantime we will all be giddy with anticipation to watch manny fight a guy who you all claimed was "gassed" and stopped throwing after the 2nd round a year ago against floyd....i know i know brad...lets just pony the money to watch it and thank manny on sunday morning!

Brad White said...

You're right Ricky, Floyd is taking the right path in "not" fighting and Manny is taking the "wrong" path in staying active fighting guys like Oscar,Hatton,Cotto,Clottey,Margarito, and in May (Mosley,JMM or Berto because Floyd refused to negotiate due to legal problems or something like that)...thank god for Floyd. He's a boxing fans dream. He won't subject us to fights against "outclassed" opponents (not sure what Baldomir,JMM, Mosely were?) and when he does fight he has the decency to fight at about 75% capacity (why pour it on, fans don't want that). That's why we love boxing. I love watching a guy,like Floyd(even Floyd rarely gives me an opportunity to "watch"), who is gifted, yet seems to have no interest in demostrating those gifts. You're right Ricky. Floyd's Way is much more appealing to Manny's.

ricky roe said...

you dont enjoy watching floyd fight when he does fight...so why complain when he doesnt? its always "he doesnt throw enough or inspire" or his opponent "is gassed and cant throw after the 2nd round"...he cant please fans like you and you represent the vast majority...so why bother trying...."mosley,jmm,or berto"....lolol...if you actually think jmm or berto have a shot...its shane all the way...and if you are paying attention you are seeing more typical bob arum being a piece of shit...coming out to the media and saying that marquez has asked for double what he made against floyd...lolol...what a piece of shit...oscar has even come out and said hes willing to step aside and not make a dime off of marquez because he really wants him to get his final shot at pac...i dont think anybody in their right mind believes marquez is/was asking for 8 mil for a 3rd fight with pac...too bad for marquez and berto...they probably could have landed the pac fight...but they both messed up bad....by actually winning and looking good in their last fights....i could go on and on about that piece of crap...but you already know so why bother...he is the one controlling and orchestrating pacs career...the guy promised gamboa/lopez this year..didnt happen prob wont next year too...the guy has basically ruined cotto/martinez because he says he wants all the rights to the fight...arum said caballero priced himself out of a fight with lopez...caballero said he was never contacted with a serious offer....and yet we are supposed to believe that pac is "taking risks beyond the normal limits boxers take"...and that he is so "inspiring"....carefully orchestrated rise and you have been brainwashed to think that this man is the second coming...kinda like that president of ours

ricky roe said...

"(not sure what Baldomir,JMM, Mosely were?".....well...baldy was the lineal ww champ...jmm was a top 3 p4p fighter...and shane was recognized the wba welter champ in which is destroyed margarito for(shane wasnt gifted a welter strap like cotto was when pac met him...shane didnt have golden boy set up a fight with michael jennings so he could win a belt before being matched with floyd)...shane was also recognized as a consensus top 5 p4p figther when floyd beat him.........also should be that floyd beat oscar who was the wbc light middle champ and basically the man at light middle when he beat him at 154 lbs....floyd didnt win a vacant strap by fighting an undeserving opponent at a catch weight....enjoy your day

Brad White said...

Ricky being that you brought up "that president of ours" in comparision to Pacquiao, I'd like to agree with you. For a change. Pacquiao is like Obama, he cares about people, even poor people. He cares so much that he, like Obama, has devoted a good part of his life to helping them. Mayweather is much like George W. Selfish, only looking out for his own self-interest, unconcerned about the inpoverished (or boxing fans in general). George never "inspired" Americans. Obama has. Pacquiao and Obama will go down as greats. George W. and Money will be forgotten....enjoy your day Ricky.

Brad White said...

Another way of looking at it is, if boxing were the NFL, Floyd would be the loud ass, trashing talking New York Jets. Always talking shit, winning but never "inspiring." Manny Pacquiao would of course be New England: kicking ass bad, not coasting, not talking shit, justing beating ass. Manny Pacquiao is the New England Patriots. Like that one better Ricky?

ricky roe said...

haha...i do like that one brad...alot...unfortunately i think floyd/pac plays out alot like their first meeting in the meadowlands...with floyd taking control around the halfway mark on his way to a decisive decision...but seriously spare me on obama....yer killing me with the "cares about people,even poor people"...ahah...let me break out a quote from jesse ventura...you may or may not have heard before...this isnt verbatim...but close..."politics is just like pro wrestling...in front of the cameras everybody is like 'i hate you im gonna kick your ass'..and when the cameras turn off were all hangin out and goin out to dinner with each other...its showbiz".....u dont believe obama actually runs this country and free world do you?...

Brad White said...

Ricky...quoting Jesse Venture is not a strong way to support your arguement. It's cool with me, I like you and know you and all, but if you're debating politics with someone else on the internet you might want to leave Jesse qoutes out. He's kind of clown. Intellectually. As far as "who runs the country?".... that's easy: Coporations. We have downward middle class mobility, racial resentment, bewilderment at change, anti-intellectual stains in American politics. We think the answer is "someone like us, that's real" like W. or Palin. It's a myth.....wait a minute. This is a boxing blog. Sorry. Let's get back to the fun stuff. When is your boy Floyd going to get back in the ring?

ricky roe said...

who knows brad...who knows...im fairly convinced he would probably be inactive even if he had no legal obligations...there just isnt alot out there for him...i know you think im being over the top and just defending him...but i really believe there just arent any fights out there for him worth it...only fights that really leave people complaining...the only fight that makes sense for him is martinez...but is it worth it for floyd...he already has a belt at 154...160 title would be awesome..but it might be too high for floyd...even manny doesnt want martinez at 154...floyd wants the pac fight...and i dont think he can remain idle until team pac wants to take it...so hes going to have to do something at some point....even though i hate a 3rd fight for jmm against pac(i love jmm...dont wanna see the memories of the first two fights ruined by him getting beat up now..but who knows..marquez has the style to beat pac...and he just may be able to remain competitive)...i think it might make the most sense....then let mosley/berto fight...and either pac or floyd can take the winner(if berto wins it be a good fight for floyd..if shane won...itd make sense for pac)...bob seems to have little interest in dealing with a fighter outside of the top rank banner now...maybe a bradley/alexander winner sneaks into the picture for either fighter....i dunno....you have to though...youd be killing floyd if he was taking ho hum stay busy fights right now...even if he werent in legal trouble i think hed be making the smartest move by staying idle right now

Brad White said...

Floyd is now 2-0 against security guards. It appears that Floyd has zero'interesting enough" fights out there with professional boxers, but plenty of rent-a-cops battles to keep him busy. LOL. Man, it must be tough being a Floyd fan. LOL.