By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This month, we take a look at the retirement of Manny Pacquiao from boxing, Shoehei Otani, and Suni Lee’s gold star performance on TV.
Pacquiao retires, announces run for president
Manny Pacquiao announced his retirement from the boxing ring last month after his loss to Yordenis Ugas in August. While his loss to Ugas was a disappointment, it showed that the former 8 division champion was done at the age of 42. The sport of boxing has many athletes making a comeback to the ring. Notably, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., a Pacquiao rival, has participated in boxing matches and is still trolling for another shot. Oscar de la Hoya, who Pacquiao defeated in 2008 to springboard his boxing profile and ascendancy into superstardom, is looking to make a comeback at the age of 48. But it looks like Pacquiao will stay retired as he announced plans to run for president of the Philippines.
“I am announcing my retirement. Goodbye, boxing,” said Pacquiao in a Facebook post from his verified account. He thanked fans, stating that it was the hardest decision he ever made. Pacquiao ended his career with 62 wins, 8 losses, and 2 draws. Of the 62 wins, he had 39 knockouts. His career started when he was 16 years old with a bout in January 1995.
Even before he announced plans to run, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte—who announced his retirement from politics on Oct. 2—cast insults at Pacquiao prior to his last fight in August. Duterte, who was once a friend of Pacquiao’s and belongs to the same party, called the boxer an expletive after Pacquiao made comments about corruption in government, as well as Duterte’s amicable relationship with China. He also labeled Pacquiao “too old” and that he was “failing in his boxing career.”
Pacquiao is an iconic figure in the Philippines for his boxing fame. His political career has capitalized on this and we will see how his run for president will be seen in the eyes of the people of the Philippines.
Shoehei Ohtani’s season ends, out of playoffs
Shoehei Ohtani’s first at-bat of the last game of the season was a home run against the Seattle Mariners. The home run was the beginning of the end for the Mariners as the Angels won the game and doused any hope of the playoffs for the M’s. The Angels did not make the playoffs, but Ohtani’s season was spectacular.
It is rare that a player is a pitcher and a full-time hitter. Ohtani excelled in doing both this year. The 27-year-old hit 46 home runs, which placed him third among active players for this season. He stole 26 bases and tied for second with 80 extra-base hits. As a pitcher, he put up a 3.18 earned run average with 156 strikeouts. He hit as many home runs as he allowed earned runs as a pitcher, which is an amazing statistic.
Ohtani’s sizzling season made him an All-Star as a pitcher and a hitter. July’s ‘midseason classic’ highlighted the talents of Ohtani as he started as the pitcher and hit in the leadoff position for the American League.
With Mike Trout injured most of the year, Ohtani was the sole star on a team that failed to reach the postseason yet again. He made it known that his main priority moving forward is “to win.” But there is much speculation as if that is a call to action for the Angels to provide support for the superstar or that he would take his talents elsewhere. Ohtani’s contract ends next season and he stated that while he would listen to the Angels about signing an extension, it did not mean he was going to stay as winning is at the forefront of his goals.
Suni Lee doing well so far on Dancing with the Stars
Olympic gold medal gymnast Suni Lee is doing well with her newfound fame. After winning a gold medal this summer, the incoming freshman at Auburn was offered a shot to be on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. The show takes celebrities (which Lee is now) and pairs them with professional dancers, gives them a routine, and is judged on how well they perform. To no surprise, Lee is scoring well with the judges. While Lee claims she did not know how to dance, performing in front of others is second nature to the gymnast. She has held up her own thus far in the competition, but her scores leave her in the middle of the pack. The experience is great for Lee who will attempt to balance fame, school, and competing for Auburn this year.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.