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By | July 14, 2017

MANILA

Now the Australians are mad at us. I know, I know, our president doesn’t give a koala’s hoot. But let us plain citizens try to reassure the Aussies we’re not all bad losers.

It turns out some Filipinos have gone out in force to bash new WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn and his wife in social media for beating Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao. The Horns have been subjected to unmentionable oaths and other degrading expletives, like “Your wife is a pig!”

My question is why? What is there to gain from this vulgarity?

Somebody has to lose in a boxing match, draws are a rarity. According to the three judges in the June 2 fight in sunny Brisbane, Horn defeated Pacquiao. An impartial viewer might contest the decision, saying it could have gone either way. Logic says that if it could have gone either way, it could have gone to Horn and, according to the judges, it did. Even Pacquiao’s American promoter and chum Bob Arum said the judgment was fair.

My own layman’s score was 115-112 in favor of Horn even after I gave Pacquiao a 10-8 in the ninth round.

We Filipinos are sad Pacquiao lost not only because he’s our countryman, but also because we’ve all gotten used to him winning all the time, or most of the time anyway. (But it’s worth noting that many Filipinos have signified on social media that they were not unhappy Pacquiao lost, something I connect with the kind of politics he has chosen to associate himself with.)

But we also must be honest with ourselves that Pacquiao has lost a step or two. He’s not the same wunderkind who ran circles around the likes of topnotch boxers Oscar dela Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.

We must be honest to accept that age robs human beings of their speed and skills. We all wish we could discover the Fountain of Youth from where Pacquiao could imbibe everlasting vigor and vitality.

But, alas no matter how hard we may wish differently, Pacquiao is a mortal being like everyone else. He, too, must give way to the depredations of age and wear and tear.

It’s true Horn did bully and crowd Pacquiao to neutralize the latter’s speed and lethal blows. After all, we’re talking about boxing, not ballroom dancing where finesse earns a premium. It’s not the first time Pacquiao had been subjected to head locks and brawling-style boxing. He’s been a professional all his life, he knows about those tactics. And he should have been savvy enough to counter them.

The score was unanimous and, therefore, it can’t be said that the fight was rigged. One referee did have a lopsided score of 117-111, but still it was consistent with the other referees’ verdict. Had it been a split decision, then there might be cause for Pacquiao to complain.

In any case, why heap invectives on Horn and his wife? That is not sporting of us. If the complaints had been civil and reasoned, that might be acceptable in any forum whether it’s boxing or the International Court.

But showering the Horns with curses and other profanities is, to use boxing parlance, below the belt. Way below. That is what’s foul.

Pacquiao has been a beloved and idolized icon among Filipinos. He deserves the adulation. He will be remembered as the best boxing hero of the Philippines, even ahead of the great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde.

But lately, as a politician, he’s been a divisive element in Philippine society. And now this. How ironic that Pacquiao used to unite us, now he divides us.

Pacquiao has been sporting in the past and his defeat at the hands of Horn doesn’t justify any unsportsmanlike statements or action. Otherwise he will just be seen as another divisive politician in our already divided society.

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