Manny Pacquiao scored his greatest victory seven months ago. Not in the boxing ring, but in a Philippines church.
Having been blessed with a successful boxing career, a beautiful family, and fame and fortune, the pugilist nearly threw it all away on riotous living – hard drinking, non-stop clubbing, heavy gambling and serial philandering.
But the boxing game’s only eight-division world champion was convicted by the Holy Spirit following his bout this past November with Juan Manuel Marquez. Not because his long suffering wife, Jinkee, was ready to kick him to the curb. But because Pacquiao took to heart the Scripture that advises: “Let a man examine himself.”
The champ took a hard look within – and without – and didn’t like what he had become. So he decided to rededicate himself to his Christian faith.
“The old things we were committing over and over in the past,” he said, “I quit that. Now I follow and obey the commandments of God. I found my manual to life, the Bible.”
The hard boiled boxing fans who will be sitting at ringside this evening for Pacquiao’s tilt with formidable challenger Timothy Bradley Jr. probably couldn’t care less about the champ’s spiritual rebirth. They just want a good fight.
But their sentiments really don’t matter in the eternal scheme of things. The Scripture tells us “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Of course, there are ungodly forces in this fallen world in which we live that hate when anyone finds the Lord. Especially when a reformed sinner, like Pacquiao, can’t keep quiet about it.
Indeed, the champ found himself taking shots last month far more ferocious than he can expect in the ring tonight at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas after he dared to express the traditional, conservative, Christian view that God intended marriage to be strictly between man and woman.
The story was reported that Pacquiao not only voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage, but also said that homosexuals must be put to death, according to a verse from the Book of Leviticus.
But Pacquiao never quoted Leviticus; never advocated death to gays. Yet, he was disinvited from attending an event at Grove shopping mall in Los Angeles because, sponsors said, it “was not a place for intolerance.
Meanwhile, the champ’s sponsors – including Hewlett-Packard and Hennessy – complained to his management company, Top Rank Boxing, about his alleged hate speech, which turned out to be completely trumped up.
That’s why I’m rooting for Pacquiao. Not in the ring, where I’m sure he can handle himself just fine. But outside the ring, where he is up against the devil who, the Scripture warns, “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”