PHILIPPINE boxing has not been the same since Manny Pacquiao suffered a brutal sixth-round knockout loss to Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez and not even the rising popularity of compatriot Nonito Donaire Jr. is enough to lift the sport back on its feet.
Longtime boxing promoter Rex `Wakee’ Salud believes Donaire still has a long way to go before coming close to the popularity of Pacquiao, whom he thinks remains as the biggest draw in boxing today – be it in the country or anywhere else in the world.
“Iba ang boxing ngayon, medyo tahimik. Pansin mo kahit mga Pilipino parang hindi ganun kainit ang pagsubaybay sa sport,” Salud admitted to Spin.ph.
“Lahat tayo parang nalungkot sa boxing buhat nung matalo si Manny, parang walang mukha `yung boxing natin ngayon.”
The remarks don’t mean Donaire can’t fly the flag for Philippine boxing, he added. It’s just that he feels the 'Filipino Flash' is not yet in the same league as Pacquiao.
“Hindi pa kaya ni Donaire (na hilahin `yung popularidad ng boxing under Pacquiao). Iba si Manny, iba si Donaire. Malayo ang diperensya ng dalawa,” Salud said.
“Importante kasi charisma sa tao. Si Manny kahit galing sa talo, grabe ang paghahabol sa kanya ng tao, magpa-picure, autograph, o kahit saglit na kwentuhan lang,” said Salud.
The Cebu-based promoter who once handled the career of former two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa believes Donaire will soon become the country’s top boxing draw, but his appeal and popularity may never match Pacquiao's.
“Malayung-malayo. Kung magiging ganun man, tingin ko matagal pa yun,” he added.
Salud reiterated that knowing Pacquiao, the greatest athlete the country has ever produced will do everything in his capacity to avenge his loss to longtime rival Marquez.
The boxing advisor of Pacquiao also thinks the Sarangani congressman has no other option but to score a knockout win of his own if and when a fifth fight with the 39-year-old Mexican pushes through later this year.
As per his estimate, Salud said Pacquiao has three more fights left and it "will definitely include a Floyd Mayweather Jr. showdown.”
“Yun na lang ang huling natitira kay Manny, Marquez at Mayweather,” said Salud.