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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Manny must focus on here and now

MANILA, Philippines - Sports psychologist Dr. Francis Santamaria said yesterday Manny Pacquiao’s spirituality and sense of purpose are his biggest abstract weapons that will lift him to victory over Ricky Hatton in their IBO lightwelterweight title fight in Las Vegas on May 2.

“The mind of an athlete must be like a Christian missionary’s,” said Santamaria who has worked with PBA players and national athletes in boxing, taekwondo, tennis, bowling and swimming. “He must focus on his works, his long-term mission and listen to his flock’s advice. He also knows that the right time and space will be coming and he should not hurry.”

Santamaria advised Pacquiao to stick to the basics of “here and now” and avoid distractions that could blunt his competitive edge.

“His being spiritual and sense of purpose, how his performance impacts on the country, his hometown and peace and order, are a great self-fulfillment,” continued Santamaria who has served more than 200 companies in the course of his career as a management consultant.

If ever he meets Pacquiao face to face, Santamaria said he would suggest for him to take things as they come, one at a time.

“I would tell him to listen to himself and the friends who will die for him,” he went on. “His youth and reputation are great assets. When he finishes his boxing career, he should take a year off with his family and another two months with his real friends then decide how he wants to proceed with life. In Zen Buddhism, it is a principle that those who want to use you will suck your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual energy from you. He should know how to manage his life force. I will then teach him the way of the Tao because there is nothing religious about it.”

Santamaria cautioned Pacquiao to stay away from pretenders with a malicious intent to manipulate his life. He warned of an “energy leakage” if Pacquiao tries to mix boxing and politics.

“He should be dissuaded from having parallel thoughts as this causes a split of his ‘chi’ or energy and this is cruel,” he explained. “Losing focus could derail his short-term or long-term cause. And this could happen in his planned last one or two fights. Frankly, I don’t believe he could win all these planned last fights prior to retirement if he experiences energy leakage.”

Santamaria said athletes who come from the provinces and depressed areas are more prone to “mental viruses” but exhibit a higher motivation, drive and resilience than the urban-raised athletes. “You will never find a Dodie Boy Peñalosa or Manny Pacquiao in Metro Manila,” he remarked.

As for Pacquiao’s fight against Hatton, experts aren’t ruling out a 50-50 situation despite oddsmakers installing the Filipino icon an early favorite.

“Physically, at least on paper, it’s a very close pairing,” wrote Phil Woolever in Boxing Digest (April 2009). “Both men are 30 years old. Hatton is listed an inch taller at 5-7 1/2 but Pacquiao’s 67-inch reach favors him by two inches in that category. It seems likely the outcome will depend on who dictates toe-to-toe exchanges inside where Pacquiao has a crucial advantage in quickness.”

Woolever said in his analysis, the fight could go either way.


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