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Pacquiao a question mark

Pacquiao must work hard to win in his comeback fight

IT is just days away and we will see Manny Pacquiao fight again.  That’s on November 5, when Pacquiao climbs back from retirement to challenge WBO world welterweight champion Jessie Vargas at the Thomas & Mack Center inside the sprawling campus of the University of Neveda, Las Vegas.

For me to mention that place in Nevada brings back a flood of memories.

The last time I was there was in 2006, when Pacquiao knocked out Erik “Terible” Morales in the third round before a jam-packed crowd mostly dominated by Mexicans.

I was with my wife, the writer-journalist-professor Sol Juvida of Calauag, Quezon, inside the arena and we were then surrounded by rowdy Mexicans.

My hipag, the Los Angeles-based then Ofel J. Magturo, was also with us and she was very nervous because of the Mexicans, who were drinking beer before and during the fight.

“Baka guluhin tayo ng mga iyan,” Ofel kept telling me.

Being familiar already with the ways of Mexican boxing buffs, I had to assure her all the time that they are just happy and excited and their beer-drinking is only part of their merrymaking.

True enough, the Mexicans were simply there to root for Morales—noisily at times—but otherwise were too behaved overall.

After Pacquiao’s third-round knockout victory over Morales to seal a 2-1 score in their famous trilogy, the Mexicans around us quietly walked out of the arena—their heads mostly bowed.  Some even congratulated us, showing sportsmanship to the hilt.

“Mababait naman pala,” said my hipag Ofel, visibly relieved that no untoward incident had happened.

And, yes, here we go again.

Freddie Roach has said Manny Pacquiao will win by knockout on Nov. 5.

Same old song.

How many times have we heard Roach make a knockout prediction win for Pacquiao?

He’s been saying that since 2010.

And not one knockout has come out true.

Instead of scoring a knockout, Pacquiao got himself knocked out.

Fighting too confident after leading in all three scorecards after the fifth round, Pacquiao got tagged by a killer right with a mere tick left in the sixth.

No, Juan Manuel Marquez didn’t plan the knockout.

Only a pseudo boxing pundit would say such crap.

Pacquiao got knocked out by accident.

Consumed by overconfidence, Pacquiao forgot all about throwing caution in the wind.

He knew he was well ahead.

And so, lulled by false illusion that he could finish Marquez off in the sixth, Pacquiao walked into a booby trap.

Careless and reckless, he got smacked cold in the face by the hardest punch he would ever absorb.

Pacquiao fell flat on his face.

As he lay on the floor almost motionless, Pacquiao scared every soul, including his wife Jinkee seated at ringside.

Thank God he was all right.

The first words Pacquiao uttered when he came to was, “What happened?  Where am I?”

He would recover, as all great fighters like him did.

He came back in 2013 and decisioned Brandon Rios.

Next, he would defeat Chris Algieri in 2014.

Algieri went crashing down the canvas six times but the virtual clown from New York still managed to survive and salvage a loss on mere points.

Then last year, Pacquiao outpointed yet again Tim Bradley for a 2-1 win in their lackluster trilogy.

And now this, the fight with Vargas next month, eight months after the PacMan said he was retired last April.

Not surprisingly, Roach bristled at a Pacquiao KO win.

“The knockout will come by the ninth round,” Roach, Pacquiao’s long-time trainer, said.

Oh yeah?  Who are you kidding, Freddie?

I’ve heard that before.

The last time Pacquiao scored a knockout was in 2009.

And only because Miguel Cotto had become so badly battered, forcing the referee to halt the fight in the 12th and final round.

Pacquiao by technical knockout a.k.a. TKO.

Pacquiao will defeat Vargas, all right, but only if he gets in tip-top shape.

Not by knockout, though, but on points.

If Pacquiao climbs the ring not thoroughly trained—which is likely, given his hectic schedule in the Senate—he faces imminent danger in Vargas, who is no pushover as he is a reigning world champ.

I like Pacquiao to win, again.

But as he is now serving two masters—boxing and the Senate—with equal passion and dedication, his fight focus in Las Vegas is suspect.

He needs a truckload of luck to unseat Vargas.