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.

Read on…


  1. GabbyD

    this is a rorschach test for how you see him. i dont blame people who choose to laugh at manny for the things he does.

    but that is a CHOICE. its not the only way to see. to allege so is the same arrogance we decry in most men.

    “But watch that Ferrell-Pacquiao segment again. You tell me: Is Pacquiao in on the joke? Is he sending up or exaggerating some aspect of himself? Or is he singing sincerely while Ferrell and Kimmel and the audience have a big chuckle at his expense? Isn’t everybody just laughing at him?”

    i’m not laughing at him. he’s just a guy trying to have fun. to laugh at him is evidence at what kind of person YOU are.

    angela, take the test. do you laugh with pacquiao? or at him?

  2. No, I won’t laugh at Pacquiao, now or ever. But I was laughing all throughout the whole time I was reading this article. And I laugh some more after reading the last sentence.

  3. kimmel sang pacquiao’s song. so, is he mocking pacquiao? or is he genuinely tickled by pacquiao?

    do the answers as to how kimmel thinks about pacquiao affect how we should perceive that bit (bit=humorous routine)?