Pacquiao: Finding right balance between boxing and religion

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Manny Pacquiao looks on during a workout session at The Venetian on November 20, 2014 in Macau, Macau. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

(CNN Philippines) — Religion and boxing don't mix easily.

Boxing involves the sometimes ruthless physical abuse of an individual for the entertainment of the viewing public. Yet ironically enough, one of the best fighters in the world is a proud follower of a religion that promotes forgiveness and healing.

Some say Manny Pacquiao's conversion to being an Evangelical Christian from Roman Catholicism, aside from engaging in other careers as a politician and professional basketball player and coach, has affected his once insurmountable arsenal and fighting style.

Pacquiao converted in the period between his third fight against Juan Manuel Marquez and his first bout against Timothy Bradley in 2012. Since then he has accumulated a record of 3 wins and 2 losses with no knockouts that has left people asking whether or not religion is in part responsible for the dip in form.

Being such an ardent follower of such a religion, how does Pacquiao mediate his relationship with his faith and his profession as a boxer seeking to inflict pain on his opponent in the ring?

Faith and boxing

Paul Soriano, the director of Manny's latest biopic Kid Kulafu and son of his spiritual advisor Jeric Soriano, is a close friend that shares the same faith as Manny and bore witness to the religious transformation the Filipino pugilist has made in the last few years.

"He (Manny) doesn't talk about being changed, he actually lives it," said Soriano, who had the opportunity to dive into Pacquiao's life journey for the production of Kid Kulafu.

"Manny's life is a miracle, if you don't believe in God, if you don't believe in miracles, listen to Manny's life, listen to Manny's story."

Since his conversion Manny has closed down pool halls, cock fighting rings, and casinos that has been associated to him, and altered his lifestyle to fit his beliefs.

As a boxer, though, Soriano is confident that Manny's faith doesn't take away from his performances.

"Manny knows very well that boxing is his profession. It's the job, that he needs to knock out his opponent or he needs to fight and win in however way possible," said Soriano.

"Boxing is a sport... it's not illegal, it's not wrong. I know he is at peace with it, and when he gets into that ring he is a boxer," Soriano continued, "I know a hundred percent that in his mind, he knows that whoever he is looking at across that boxing ring, he needs to put down."

That knockout punch

Looking at his record, Manny has not been able to stop since fighting Miguel Cotto in 2009.

Despite the absence of a knock out in recent years, Soriano dispelled the notion that Pacqiuao has become too nice for boxing.

"He may not have a knock out in his last few fights, but he was able to knock down (Chris) Algieri a couple of times. He's still looking for a knockout," said Soriano.

"We also know Manny isn't what he used to be maybe 6 or 7 years ago in terms of punching power. He is also just like every athlete, they age. If there is that opportunity to knock him (Mayweather) out, I think he would go for it."

For the upcoming match with Mayweather, Soriano is sure that Pacquiao will hold nothing back.

"We saw that in the last fight with Algieri, that he isn't afraid to throw those strong punches. In the Mayweather fight, there's gonna be extra strength behind those punches because he's been wanting to punch and fight Mayweather for the last 5 or 6 years," added Soriano.

"He's not gonna let that opportunity just go by, when he sees that opening I know he's gonna take it."

Spreading the word

During his media day workout, Pacquiao revealed his desire to share the "word of God" with his American opponent.

"Well I think Floyd should definitely give him the time because it's good news!" Soriano exclaimed.

"That's just Manny being so in love with God, and so on fire that he just wants to share it to everybody, even to Floyd Mayweather."

The road to Vegas

Putting questions of faith aside, Soriano is confident that Manny will win the fight, even pointing out how Manny booked the earliest flight to Los Angeles to train immediately after the announcement.

"You can see that extra fire, you can see that extra push," Soriano said.

Pacquiao thrives on carrying the expectations of an entire nation. It even motivates him, said Soriano.

"That punch is not just gonna be his power, it will be the power of every single Filipino he is representing and Mayweather will definitely feel it," he said.

"He's fighting for a nation, it's larger than life."