Everything changed for Manny Pacquiao after that hard-fought, grueling decision over Juan Manuel Marquez on the eve of November 12.
Heading into the match, Pacquiao was on top of the world. Everyone -- fans, pundits, odds makers -- had the Filipino champion as the undeniable favorite going in, and the topic of debate was when not if he would ultimately be able to knock Marquez out. Already, the discussions centered more around who he would fight next than the fight actually in front of him. And, most importantly, on the heels of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s controversial win over Victor Ortiz, the onus was on Pacquiao to provide a little stability with a victory that would undeniably, unequivocally be seen as a victory.
We got none of that.
Pacquiao didn’t even come close to knocking Marquez out. All of the talk about his future opponents proved to be premature, because Marquez made a very legitimate case for himself as being worthy of a fourth bout against the No. 1 pound-for-pounder in the world. And, most importantly, the end result of that match was just as, if not moreso controversial than Mayweather’s sucker punch win against Ortiz.
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In the aftermath, Pacquiao took a big PR hit. Immediately following the decision was announced in his favor, angry fans threw various objects at the ring. In the days after that, boxing writers and commentators dumped all over the Filipino champion and his legacy in their own special way – with their words.
Fans were also angry, but it was difficult to really tell if it was Pacquiao fans that were angry because their guy underwhelmed, or Marquez fans who felt as though their guy got robbed by incompetent judging.
Now we have our answer.
According to the Philippine Star, Pacquiao will return home on Sunday without any of the usual fanfare or excitement that typically reign supreme after one of his wins. Rather, this time around, the champ is quietly flying back from Los Angeles with plans of heading straight to the Midas Hotel in Pasay City where he will reside for a few days.
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That’s not to say that the hotel he’s staying at won’t have a few special bells and whistles for their biggest celebrity, but it won’t be anywhere near the breadth of the usual celebrations. None of the parades, none of the screaming fans – none of the usual theatrics.
The question becomes: is this the fallout?
Did one unconvincing victory suddenly take all of the life out of a fanbase as enthusiastic as the one that once belonged to Pacquiao? It’s hard to say at this point, but the early indicators don’t look good.
Of course, sports fans are a fickle bunch. They love you, then they hate you, then they love you again.
If Pacquiao were to agree to a highly-desired showdown against Mayweather, his fans would undoubtedly flock back to him in droves.
Until that happens, though – the Filipino champion might need some time to get used a very noticeable decrease in love from the most ardent group of boxing supporters in the land.