Boxing ain't dead. Did you not get the memo?
Maybe you heard that the sweet science is no longer relevant, or that it's as mainstream as horse racing.
Well, I respectfully say to you, if you think the sport is taking an eternal dirt nap, wake up. And widen your scope.
Because to the portion of the 100 million citizens of his native Philippines who aren't in diapers, Manny Pacquiao is a God-like figure. He's not merely a prizefighter, he's a reason for breathing.
Pacman, or as I should probably refer to him, the Congressman (he was elected to represent Sarangani province in the Filipino legislature last year), was in New York on Monday and Tuesday to hype his Nov. 12 clash with Juan Manuel Marquez in Vegas.
If you are one of those who hopped off the boxing bus, and haven't seen Pacquiao in action, you are in for a treat. He's a whirling dervish of destruction, a 147-pounder whose small frame hints not at all to the power contained in both fists. But it is as much his personality which makes him a revered figure in his nation. In public, he sports a perpetual twinkle in his eyes, and a shy grin which sends a signal that while he's maybe the best fighter on earth, he doesn't fancy himself any better than you or I.
He is also maybe the world's most effective multitasker. On Tuesday, at a Chelsea Piers press conference, Pacquiao did a duet with Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Hill on "Sometimes When We Touch," a ballad that rose to No. 3 on the US charts in 1977.
Lo and behold, the song, the Pacquiao-Hill version, is enjoying a comeback; it's at No. 7 on the secondary adult contemporary chart, its sixth week in the top 10 among the smaller radio markets.
NY Fightblog reached out to Hill after the presser, and the singer-songwriter explained how he and the fighter paired up.
"I saw Manny perform 'Sometimes When We Touch' on the Jimmy Kimmel show about two years ago, and I was so impressed by his sincerity, conviction and the honesty of his vocals, I sought him out and he agreed to meet me in New York," said Hill, who told me he became a fight fan through his dad, who taught hand-to-hand combat to soldiers in World War II. "We clicked as human beings and agreed to make record, a video and a documentary."
Wiseguy fightwriters like to cluster around the buffet line and play Simon Cowell, busting on Manny's singing ability. I think he's solid. But what does Hill think?
"He's a great singer," said the 57 year-old. "He has a really, really warm human tone, he has a believability, he doesn't oversing, he has really good pitch. The most important thing in pop singing is that you believe what the singer is going through. It's like an actor, when you don't think he's going through the motions. I would rate Manny as a great singer."
A man with the ability to touch people with his fists and his voice -- what could be more relevant than that?