I do not really like boxing as a sport. The only time I ever had any interest in boxing in England was when Cassius Clay (later Mohammed Ali) was on television. When I came to the Philippines 6 years ago, in 2000, I soon became aware of the popularity of boxing. Even so, I still had no interest.
That changed in 2005. As the year came to an end, the build up to the January 2006 Pacquiao-Morales fight was becoming intense, and the extensive coverage of Pacquiao on television, both on news and his advertising appearances, had me anticipating the fight with as much relish as any native Filipino.
When the fight arrived, I was as excited as everyone else was; the national hero was to about perform, and I just could not wait. What I had not expected, though, was what a marvellous sporting event that was to be. Having been brought up on the cut and thrust of English football, and been to countless very exciting football matches with deafening crowd noise, I was surprised that a boxing match could generate equal excitement.
For the length of that first fight (the second in the Pacquiao-Morales series) I was on the edge of my seat for half the time. The rest of the time, I was on my feet, jumping up and down with each blow to Morales, shouting and baying along with our neighbours (who I could hear through the wall). When Morales went down for the last time in that fight, I was ecstatic.
I can honestly say that it was the best sporting event I have ever witnessed, despite being to many classic football matches, including England internationals. Pacquiao's speed and strength, with his relentless pursuit of his opponent, was exhausting just to watch. Most boxing matches, from the odd glimpses I have seen over the years, are like men playing pat-a-cake compared to the continuous action in the Pacquiao-Morales fight. Each round was a major event in itself, and just as tiring. When that fight finished, I felt drained as well as exhilarated.
Although wondering whether I could survive another fight like that, such was its intensity, I was hoping for a rematch, and yesterday it came. The build up had seemed even longer this time, and my 2 year old daughter was already a Pacquiao expert. Mention his name, and she'd come towards me throwing punches; I doubt, though, that she really understood what Manny was about, until the fight time came yesterday.
We had to survive 5 hours of programming before the fight actually started; we had no idea what time the Pacquiao fight began, so the television was on all that time. Finally, the last warm up fight was over, and the tension rose rapidly, not just at the venue, but in our home and millions of other Filipino homes around the world.
I was already on feet hyped up when we heard that Sarah Geronimo was to sing the national anthem. What a perfect start: the world's best female singer singing the national anthem. Philippine pride was rising with each moment of the anthem; and what an inspiration she is. You guessed it, she is my favourite singer. I was already on Cloud 9 going in to the fight, rooting for Manny at the top of my voice even before he stepped into the ring. And I'm not even a Filipino, just a proud resident; my wife is Filipina, though, and our daughter was born here too.
We were all with our hero as the fight started, and breathless with the first round exchanges, just as with the previous fight. With Manny looking to be stronger even than before, things were looking good, and we were all jumping up and down as Morales went down for the first time. I am not sure our daughter really knew exactly why, but she was as noisy as my wife and I, and jumped just as high.
It was total bliss for the Philippines when Morales was knocked down for the last time. We were on a high for the rest of the day, and remain so. As I wrote the last paragraph, I had to leave the computer to see Manny on a telephone call to the television programme Wow Wow Wee. The call was typical Manny, typical Filipino.
Manny was asked to sing a catchy little song that the audience dance to every day on the programme. Over the phone, he did so; no fuss, no hesitation.
Manny Pacquiao is typical of the best Filipino characters. Coming from a very poor family, he is now rich and famous. However, unlike many poor boy made good sportsmen, Manny is still supremely modest and humble, and a very likeable man.
I for one am very proud of Manny's achievements; even more, I am proud of the way he has handled fame and fortune. The Philippines is collectively proud of everything Pacquiao.
Well done, Manny, we all love you here in the Philippines. But then, I am sure you know that already, but are too humble to ever mention it.
As for Erik Morales, he too brought pride to Mexico over many years, and retained his modesty. I was not surprised to hear that he and Manny were dining together and are friends. I was thinking even before the fight, Erik would be given a big welcome here in the Philippines too. His achievements, and boxing prowess, are sure to be respected. Not only that, though, Mexico has close ties with the Philippines, which was under Spanish rule too, administered from Mexico, for over 300 years.
The Pacquiao-Morales trilogy may be over, but the memories and the pride will last forever. Pacquiao achieved massive success, from the worst beginnings, by dedication, endless hard work, vision and perseverance. Those are often the cornerstones of any success, but what sets Manny apart is that he has achieved such success while retaining his humility and respect for his fellow men, including Erik Morales.
This success and achievement article was written by Roy Thomsitt, owner and part author of the Routes To Self Improvement web site.