Philippines, Sports, television, United States

No to Pacquiao Replays on GMA

GMA is once again attempting to draw extensive hype by airing classic Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios fights. However, GMA’s old approach doesn’t usually end with a win for the Pacman.

GMA recently aired replays of classic Manny Pacquiao fights, in addition to Brandon Rios‘ more recent bouts. But here’s my question: Why do you need a replay when all you need is just a pre-fight primer?

For the past several years, GMA and ABS-CBN have been the home to two of the best pound-for-pound fighters today. GMA has Manny Pacquiao, while ABS-CBN has Nonito Donaire. The two have some things in common: both were promoted by Top Rank Boxing, have won world championships, earned endorsement deals with various products, and inspired future boxers in the Philippines. For some reason they are boxing’s version of a teleserye; GMA would air a Pacquiao fight one day, and then ABS-CBN will respond with a Donaire fight. This one-upsmanship has served well for both networks, with high ratings and earnings after each fight.

However, after recent defeats by both fighters, it becomes clear that the game of playing it safe is necessary for them to bounce back. But while ABS-CBN decided to air a primer of Donaire’s upcoming fight with Vic Darchinyan on Studio 23, GMA decided to continue its tried and tested aggressive promotion of Pacquiao through the airing of his classic bouts. Seems like they’re doing it simply to add fuel to the fire, isn’t it? But after losing to Juan Manuel Marquez in the previous bout, did GMA make the right decision?

My answer is an obvious NO. GMA should have stuck with a more low-key approach in an effort to not overhype the fight. In the previous Pacquiao defeats to Timothy Bradley and Marquez, the extreme hype and overconfidence that GMA exuded during their promotional ads proved crucial in the defeat. Let’s face it. Filipinos got used to Pacquiao winning at all costs, that they were confident that he can do the same heading into the Bradley fight. As it turned out, the younger Bradley did the right thing in stopping the somewhat overconfident Pacquiao during their fight, and that overconfidence proved costly too in the next fight against Marquez, in which he was able to knock out Pacquiao.

For GMA, it’s a sense of desperation, given that the network doesn’t have its own sports division and that they only air Pacquiao fights in cooperation with Solar Sports. And while ABS-CBN has enough resources to build their sports department, GMA lacks the necessary revenue and in-house crew to produce this big event. Pacquiao may be the biggest draw come November 24, but in the end, it comes down to the most highly-produced and well-hyped bout of the year.

Philippines, Sports, television

Pinoy Pride and the Growth of Boxing

One of ABS-CBN‘s more recent sports series is the Pinoy Pride series. Each installment features boxers from the ALA Promotions pitted against foreign foes, with the focus towards exposing these boxers to Filipino boxing fans and showcasing their skills inside the ring. So far, 20 installments of the series have been aired, the most recent of which occurred Saturday night.

The 20th installment saw Jason Pagara retain his WBO International Junior Welterweight title via unanimous decision over Mexico’s Aaron Herrera. Jimrex Jaca also won via unanimous decision by beating Jose Emilio Perea of Mexico to retain the WBO Oriental Junior Welterweight title, while Genesis Servania knocked out Indonesian Isaac Junior in the third round of the super bantamweight bout.

The Pinoy Pride series is the latest of many live sports anthologies focusing on the sport of boxing. After the great Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde gave Filipino boxing fans something to cheer for in the 1960s, the sport’s popularity in the country declined somewhat during Martial Law. However, the 1990s saw renewed growth in the sport, led by world champions Luisito Espinosa and Gerry Penalosa. It was during the run of Vintage Sports‘ Blow by Blow that fans were introduced to a then-19-year-old Manny Pacquiao, whose personality and skill captivated the crowd. The sport’s popularity and enthusiasm would grow even higher once Pacquiao earned the first of many world championships.

In the early 2000s, aside from Sunday afternoon variety shows like SOP and ASAP, there were a sprinkling of boxing-related programs being aired. Among the most notable programs were ‘In This Corner’ on PTV-4 and ‘Fistorama’ on IBC-13. However, it was through a signature that ABS-CBN and ALA Promotions released the Pinoy Pride series, showcasing up-and-coming boxing stars competing for world championships and national recognition.

The Pinoy Pride series started airing in 2010 at the height of Filipino boxing’s global recognition. At that point, Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire were the flagbearers of the sport, holding a world championship in their respective weight class. Although ABS-CBN have aired boxing specials in the past, notably the Donaire bouts, it was with this series that further raised interest in the sport. The series is credited for raising the profiles of up-and-coming world champions Rey ‘Boom-Boom’ Bautista, AJ Banal, Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes and Milan Melindo. If not for Pinoy Pride, boxing would have never been the same after Pacquiao and Donaire.

Plans are currently underway for Pinoy Pride 21. At this point, it is safe to say that Pinoy Pride extended ABS-CBN’s profile in sports coverage, while giving boxing greater coverage to Filipino fans.

entertainment, Sports, television

Disliking Manny Pacquiao’s Non-Boxing Roles

English: Rep. Manny Pacquiao at a speaking eng...

Manny Pacquiao’s many roles other than as a boxer had a negative effect in his boxing career of late. (Photo credit: Mike Gonzalez, Wikimedia Commons)

Just a few weeks ago, ‘Para Sa ‘Yo Ang Laban na To’ was pulled off the air by GMA 7. Obviously no one wants to tune in to a counseling and advice program hosted by Manny Pacquiao, as more people wanted to watch raunchier and more aggressive disputes in programs such as TV5’s ‘Face to Face‘ and GMA News TV‘s ‘Personalan‘. And I think it was another failed attempt by Pacquiao to gain a viewing fanbase in a profession other than boxing.

It was Pacquiao’s forays into showbiz that somehow threatened his boxing career. Since signing with GMA 7 in 2007, Pacquiao was given several shows by the network, such as ‘Show Me Da Manny‘ and ‘Manny Many Prizes‘. Unfortunately, neither of Pacquiao’s programs were able to even crack the top 10 in the ratings.

In addition to his hosting and acting stints, he is also a congressman and a preacher back in his hometown of Sarangani. Playing multiple roles at the same time affected his mental focus, concentration and punching accuracy, which led to his defeats against Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez in his last two bouts. Is it good to read out the laws of the government while thinking about the opponent? I don’t think so.

If I were Manny Pacquiao, I would rather focus only on punching opponents, and nothing else. Just ask Nonito Donaire, who has found success knocking out his opponents without any distraction. Although Donaire lost in his recent bout to Jorge Arce, he did not take the showbiz route seriously like Pacquiao (his only minor role is on a McDonalds commercial). Instead he is resting his wounds, awaiting the right time to return to the ring soon.

Manny Pacquiao is a Hall of Famer, no doubt. He is an eight-division world champion, no doubt. He typifies the rags-to-riches type, carrying its burden to inspire future Filipino success stories.  But his success in boxing was overshadowed by his willingness to accept new roles in an effort to gain greater fame and recognition, most of which did not earn the desired results. And even as he tries to regain the in-ring success heading into a November bout with Brandon Rios, the damage has been done, because Manny Pacquiao the entertainer, politician and preacher had virtually ‘wounded’ the ego of Manny Pacquiao the in-ring competitor.