Manny Pacquiao is the undisputed best pound-for-pound boxer in the world at the moment, an unofficial honor that is a first for a Filipino. He is a transcendent figure, a living myth, who combines what seems to be true humility and dignity with amazing pugilistic skills and power.
We joined a bunch of fellow boxing fans last Saturday night at Kahluas Bar & Grill on 51st Avenue just north of Camelback for Pacquiao's pay-per-view fight against the once-excellent Shane Mosley.
We fully expected Pacquiao to beat Mosley up, perhaps even to knock the 39-year-old out (that would have been a first in Shane's long career).
We were hoping beyond hope for a real fight.
Didn't get it, to the dismay of dozens of patrons at the Latino-oriented establishment, to about 15,000 in attendance at the MGM Grand up in Las Vegas and (as ring announcer Michael Buffer would say), millions watching around the world.
Mosley is a shot fighter who really ought to call it a career.
Kahluas is a cool place, where guys dress up like gauchos and gals like Latina beauty queens. The atmosphere usually is friendly, even during a prizefight.
The Valley's anti-illegal-immigrant vibes and Arizona Senate Bill 1070 definitely have affected the bar's bottom line in the last few years -- we were there a year or so ago for another fight and about twice as many folks crowded into the place.
But Pacquiao is an honorary Latino at this point, by virtue of having fought (and beat) some of the great Mexican fighters of this era, and his name drew a few hundred people at $20 a head.
Fighting at 145 pounds and routinely opposing bigger men (including Mosley), Pac-Man loves to mix it up and has a champion's heart -- usually mandatory requirements for Latino fight fans.
Just about everyone in the bar was rooting for Manny, and Mosley's 36-minute retreat over 12 rounds was, to put it mildly, poorly received.
"Knock that fucker out!" the guy to our left screamed at the one-dimensional screen as Mosley tried to survive by dancing backward round after round. "Rip off!"
The fight was a rout, with Mosley winning but one round on one of the three judges' scorecards. Pacquiao was gracious and self-depracating afterward, and Mosley took his whipping like a guy who just scored a $6 million payday and (physically, at least) was pretty much unscathed.
We hung around for awhile as the DJ started spinning popular Latin tunes so loud that it was impossible to think, much less have a conversation.
We briefly contemplated the possible outcome of the long-awaited (but apparently unlikely to happen) "super fight" between Pacquiao and the undefeated Floyd Mayweather. To a person, everybody there believed Pacquiao would figure out the slick Mayweather and win, maybe by a knockout.
Who knows? Anyway, the night was a hoot despite Mosley's lame performance, and everyone went home happy--some, probably, more than others by the looks of things on the dance floor.