Last night, a significant chapter turned in the dynamic, ever-renewing history of boxing. As we all know, Manny Pacquiao underwent a metamorphosis last night--at least for the world at large.
Freddie Roach already knew it. Manny himself surely knew it. Some in his ardent fan base believed it. But how many really KNEW it? Now we all know. Last night, Manny Pacquiao ceased being "merely" boxing's greatest active practitioner-and, miraculously, one of the very most exciting boxers as well--he emerged as one of the greats. A transcendent figure. An athlete that inspires wonder from hardcore and casual fan alike. Manny Pacquiao became a living legend.
I don't use that phrase lightly. Floyd Mayweather is no living legend, though, arguably, he might merit a notch higher of a spot in an all-time P4P list, at least for now. There is a difference, though. In a way Mayweather never has, Manny Pacquiao astounded me last night. He completely befuddled my humble appreciation for the sport. In his last two fights, it's become clear that he is not just a supremely talented athlete, like Mayweather, but an almost unbelievable figure. As I said, a real living legend.
There will be time for arguments about his legacy. Time for sober assessments of what he actually achieved ... how significant his win over Hatton really was. There will be time to carp over rumors about his next fight, his chances against Mayweather (whether we believe that fight will transpire or not). There will time to reassess our estimations of Marquez, Oscar, and others...
But for now, I am satisfied just to keep sipping this expensive beer and reflect on Manny's greatness--on his power, his public humility, and his poise. Cheers to you, Manny Pacquiao. Floyd may claim to be back to keep boxing "up and running," but it's you, Manny, who has become its true redeemer.