Manny Pacquiao—Fearsome Fighter, Pop-Culture Punchline
By Will Leitch
Even when their lives are often anything but, boxers are afforded an undeniable dignity. At least in our popular culture. Our admiration for boxers is as profound as our fear of them, and we treat them accordingly. Jake LaMotta, some dumb palooka from the Bronx, is given a deeply respectful, almost regal treatment by the most serious filmmaker of our time. Muhammad Ali is the closest thing we have to an American saint. Heck, Mike Tyson: Even when you’re playing along with him on Jimmy Kimmel, you do it out of a certain terror; part of the excitement of watching Tyson goof off is the sense that he could explode and start decking everybody in sight any second. The great punchline of The Hangoverisn’t “In the Air Tonight;” it’s when, after Tyson floors Alan with one punch, Stu can’t help but be impressed: He’s still got it, man. They are granted warrior status, for life.
And then there is Manny Pacquiao.