The boxer had his first loss in seven years last night, in a fight that most people thought he'd won.
It was a Saturday night in Las Vegas. The Electric Daisy Carnival was in full swing at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with drugs and techno music and hundreds of thousands of kids half-naked and flowing through the desert night. But the real craziness was happening in the MGM Grand Garden Arena because there was a boxing match, and recently boxing has become more bizarre than any drug-fueled rave. Manny Pacquiao—one of the best boxers (if not the best) of the last decade—was on the top of the bill and he was favored to win, even knock out, Timothy Bradley, the guy from Palm Springs, but that didn't really happen.
That Pacquiao would win wasn't really any question because he's faster and stronger. The only thing creating doubt in the pre-fight hype: Would religion mess with Pacquiao's mind and make him a better or worse fighter?
You see, Pacquiao is from the Philippines and the Philippines is a seriously Catholic country and the PacMan, who is also a congressman there, has been dabbling with his own kind of Bible studies that don't always look Catholic to Catholics. In May, during his training camp in Hollywood he met with Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and other religious leaders to talk about his faith. Pacquiao felt like he was living a sinful life and wanted to have a better marriage and be a better father. A few months ago, he says he gave up his vices, including gambling and drinking, and became a changed man through his "manual for life," the Bible.
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This was all well and good except Pacquiao took it to such an extreme that no one knew what to make of it in relationship to his athletic career. He quoted Bible verses at every turn. Ran his own Bible study classes during training camp. Required people around him to memorize passages from Scripture. This religious dedication made a lot of people nervous because they weren't sure if he was turning his back to the Catholic Church. And among boxing people, they just wondered if boxing was as important to him as God.