Time to quit from the ring
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - May 8, 2013 - 12:00am

A noted and knowledgeable sports columnist confided in me last week that our beloved Manny Pacquiao intends to hang up his gloves after the May 13 national elections, which he will win as expected, because no one wants to challenge him at the ring. I can believe this columnist because I share his sentiment. I believe it’s time for Manny to retire after two successive losses in the ring. The last loss was an emphatic and devastating knockout where he kissed the canvas without knowing where he was for a full couple of minutes.

Now please don’t get me wrong. I have been a boxing fan all my life. I have closely followed Manny Pacquiao’s brilliant career ever since the very beginning. I have watched happily as he steadily rose to become a world champion with eight title belts, a feat no boxer has accomplished and will most likely not accomplish again for a very long time. I can honestly say I have been a fan of Pacquiao for many years.

In fact, I still remember the time, about 15 years ago, when Manny Pacquiao dropped by our Port Area office with his promoter. He was still a reed thin, strapping young fighter then seeking recognition from the sports section and sharing his lofty dreams and his plans for the future. Looking back now, he has certainly achieved all of his dreams and then some. Not only has he become a champion, he has also accumulated wealth, fame, and his name has become a household name when it comes to boxing. It’s amazing what he has accomplished.

Which brings me back to his immediate future. Manny has become a national icon. It started out because of his boxing prowess and the acclaim he brought to our country. But now it is even more than that. He has also become beloved by our countrymen because of his charitable heart and his genuine love for the Filipino people. This is because he deeply understands what it is like to come from poverty, living from hand to mouth. He knows the desperation it can foster and he goes out of his way to try to bring joy to the poor whether it be through entertaining them in the ring or working for them in the government.

I was not a fan of Manny entering politics. Honestly, I did not think he needed to do so. He makes Filipinos so happy already as a boxer; he did not need to jeopardize that by wearing two hats. And let’s be honest, entering the rigorous political arena truly did not help his boxing career, but that is just who he is: constantly growing and evolving. That’s actually why I think it’s a good move for him to move on. He doesn’t like to stagnate and that is what he will be doing if he stays in boxing for too much longer.

The news even says he is looking for an opponent and there is just no one to be found. Just based on how his career has been going there is no one left for him to fight. People still talk about the dream match between Manny and Mayweather, but the odds truly are that that fight is just not going to happen. Manny does not need to be fighting Marquez again and he certainly does not need to open himself up to a young up-and-comer who has everything to gain and nothing to lose. His camp has been shopping around for an opponent, but perhaps the real truth is that there is just no one out there right now for him. Even Timothy Bradley who stole the belt from Pacquiao last June has decided to turn down the Pacquiao fight offer. I actually find this annoying on his part as his win was so controversial, but that is his decision to make. Instead Marquez and Bradley have chosen to fight each other leaving Pacquiao still searching. Perhaps it truly is time for Manny to be grateful for such an amazing career and focus on the future.

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Last week, I read that SMC made quite the aggressive move and bid P11 billion for the 10-kilometer Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) expressway project being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). It was the highest bid easily and beat out all the other competitors trying to throw their hat into the ring, including the bid submitted by the Manila North Luzon  Tollways Corp. (MNTC).

The proposed four-lane 7.75 kilometer elevated expressway and the 2.22 kilometer at grade road will alleviate future traffic problems going to and from the NAIA as well as the Manila International Airport. The road would provide access to NAIA Terminals 1, 2, and 3 linking the Skyway on the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway (Cavitex). It’s a big project and once completed will provide much needed relief to very congested roads.

According to SMC, the company is serious in its bid to win more major infrastructure projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) program of the Aquino administration. President and chief operating office Ramon S. Ang is quoted saying that they will be more aggressive in fighting for these projects.

However, some think that SMC is in over their heads when it comes to this particular bid. I’ve read that some financial analysts claim that there is truly no way for them to earn, or at least earn quickly, from this project. The investment is just too big and the returns would be very small over an extended period of time. It’s just a matter of simple path. The costs to complete the project will take an extremely long time to recoup via proposed toll to be collected upon the road’s completion. They are looking at regaining their investment in roughly 8-10 years. That’s a very long time for such a big investment.

Did they rush into this bid? They pushed up the amount so high so quickly when they could have steadily pushed up the amount as the bidding progressed. So now, they are left with a big bid and what will certainly be a successful infrastructure project that will indeed be beneficial to them as well since they own Philippine Airlines. However, they will need to be very patient when it comes to making their investment back. Perhaps they are prepared to wait that long.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens. Currently SMC has a little over a month from the bid opening to give its proposed P11 billion to secure the deal. Will they continue on with a project that looks like it could be a losing investment? We’ll have to wait and see.

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