Pacquiao keeps the faith in defeat

LAS VEGAS, USA – There were sullen eyes and heavy hearts in the crowd at Manny Pacquiao’s prayer service on Sunday afternoon, May 3, the day after his unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Tears were shed; some overcome by the message of the sermon, while others in mourning for the defeat the Philippine icon suffered.

Perhaps the only smile at the Light Nightclub at Mandalay Bay was on the face of the man who chased the world’s pound-for-pound best fighter in the world for 12 rounds – Pacquiao himself.

Dudley Rutherford, the senior pastor at the Los Angeles-based non-denominational Shepherd of the Hills Church, led the sermon that was as much a communion procession as it was a consolation event.

“Our hearts are sad today,” said Rutherford, whose self-deprecating humor lightened an otherwise somber mood. “In our hearts we’re sad but we’re also thrilled because we know God’s plan is perfect. God’s plan is trustworthy.”

Rutherford led an applause from the approximately 400-strong audience, which included actors Jim Caviezel and Stephen Baldwin, lifting the spirits of Pacquiao's admirers as much as it did the General Santos City, Philippines native.

At one point, Rutherford even held up a fight ticket: "What was this ticket worth yesterday and what is it worth today? It's worth nothing today."

The irony is that, Pacquiao’s prayer services following a loss and a victory are nearly identical. The theme always centers on giving thanks and how material possessions are temporary, even as Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 knockouts) is expected to earn around $80 million for Saturday’s event.

Pacquiao expected beforehand that the Lord would deliver Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) into his hands; now he accepted the loss as fate.

“Thank you for coming here, thank you also for your support last night. But you have to understand that the plans and ways of God are higher than our ways. The most important thing is, we have Jesus in our life. One day we will be with him in heaven."

“What happened last night, that’s God’s plan because our plan is not God’s plan. God’s plan is higher than ours and we know that if we have Jesus we have peace of mind,” he said.

Though the loss was not nearly as damaging as the knockout he suffered in 2012 against Juan Manuel Marquez, his future in the sport remains uncertain. At age 36 and with 19 years of professional fighting under his name, there are few other milestones to strive for.

His record world championships in 8 classes isn’t likely to be equaled and there are no opponents that rise to the level of importance of Mayweather. But Pacquiao assures that in victory and in defeat, he is keeping the faith.

“My purpose is not boxing but to proclaim the name of the Lord in the whole world, that Jesus is the name of the Lord,” said Pacquiao. - Rappler.com