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Monday, May 4, 2009

All-Time Pacquiao

There was a time not too long ago when Manny Pacquiao - for all his accolades and achievements - was viewed as a flawed, somewhat one-dimensional fighter. As of last year, many boxing insiders believed that he'd go life and death with the likes of Humberto Soto. They also believed that he was considered the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound only by default because of the hiatus taken by one Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Well, in the wake of Ricky Hatton falling down like the London Bridge, that time is no longer. It's not even a debate as to who the greatest fighting machine in the world today is after Hatton was brutally knocked out in the second round by 'the Pac Man'. The discussion among the ringside media now focused on just where he stands all-time.

Yeah, all-time.

Just think about it, he began his career about the same size as Ricardo Lopez, won his first major world title at 112 (think Mark 'Too Sharp' Johnson), skipped all the way up to 122, where he mugged Lehlo Ledwaba, who was considered the best fighter in that weight division at that time in 2001. And soon he embarked on his battles against 'the Three Mexican Musketeers' of the featherweight division (Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales), where he went a combined 5-1-1. He became the first Asian boxer to win world championships in four weight classes by stopping David Diaz for the WBC lightweight title and he then ruined two Golden Boy Promotions franchises by halting Oscar De La Hoya and now Hatton, who came into this bout as the recognized jr. welterweight champion of the world.

It wasn't so much that Hatton was beat. He was a considerable underdog for a reason. But he had come into that fight having never lost a fight at 140 pounds. Nobody, save perhaps Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach, expected him to get obliterated the way he did. A smashing Pacquiao left hand in the middle of the second frame sent him crashing on his back, not just out for the 10 count, but for about 10 minutes.

From the very onset he was simply outclassed. While he tried to charge Pacquiao with his customary aggression, he was met early on by a right hook that visibly shook him. Halfway through the opening stanza, you could see that Hatton's supposed advantages in strength and size were going to be easily negated by the Filipino's speed and precision. As his face got reddened from the slicing shots of Pacquiao, you got the sense this was David Diaz all over again. Only Hatton - whose chin showed signs of faltering last year versus Juan Lazcano - wouldn't be nearly as durable. He was knocked down twice late in the first and what took place in the second was just a mere formality.

“I believe that it's a hard punch," said Pacquiao of his finishing kick, "and I believe he could not get up." He's obviously as good at understatement as he is at boxing. That punch - which might end up being the Knockout of the Decade - was an exclamation point to a bold statement that Pacquiao has been making since his close shave versus Marquez last March. And the statement is very simple - I'm truly a great prizefighter, one of the best of this past generation, and any other era before it.

"Manny's unbelievable; he makes me look good," said his trainer, who has molded this masterpiece since 2001. "He's the best fighter in the world and that's why he makes me the best trainer in the world because he listens and I really love working with this guy. He's in his prime right now, he's on top of his game. He's just getting better all the time. Anyone in the world, he can beat them all."

On a day when a 50-to-1 longshot won the Kentucky Derby, Roach had to feel like Ron Turcotte riding Secretariat. At age 30, Pacquiao is just now hitting his stride as a complete, well-rounded fighter. No longer is he the guy whose technical flaws had to be overcome with his God-given speed and power. Now there is an intersection between his athletic gifts and his boxing acumen. It's uncanny to see Pacquiao and Roach work on something at the Wild Card Boxing Club, whether it be a certain combination, or a pivot step, and to have him execute it perfectly on fight night.

Simply put, his boxing IQ has caught up to his considerable skill set.

“You’re seeing something that is developing. And the thing that I love - and every professional athlete should take it to heart because so many of them reach success and then they know everything and they don't learn anything - this young man, Manny Pacquiao, learns every training session, every fight and keeps getting better and better. He is, just the way he lives his life and the way he performs, a lesson to every athlete, no matter what discipline, around the world," said his promoter Bob Arum.

An effusive Arum would continue by pontificating to the media, "I'm telling you, what I'm watching is something that is astounding. Usually, when a world-class boxer reaches the top, he can be good for a number of years but there's no improvement. This young man improves every, single fight. He's doing things that he didn't do two years ago. And every fight, he's doing more things, other things. His defense is tremendous, his reflexes now are tremendous and I have never, ever seen in the 40 years - and I'll say this without any hyperbole - I have never seen any fighter combine the speed and the explosive power that he does."

Arum, who can engage in hyperbole with the best of them, is correct; Pacquiao is a mesmerizing blend of speed and power that is now contained and controlled in a professional manner. He is the most lethal weapon in boxing, bar none.

There are no immediate plans for Pacquiao's future, although the usual names were thrown out there like Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto, who would both have to come down in weight to make those fights a reality. And of course, there is a guy who officially announced his return to the ring on the morning of Pacquiao-Hatton.

"Mayweather, if he wants a part of this little Filipino, juuuust be my guest," said Arum. Based on how devastating Pacquiao looked on Saturday night, after facing Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18th, he might start calling out Ivan Calderon.

"I hope you enjoyed the show," said Pacquiao, who promised to sing at his post-fight party at the Mandalay Bay. "It's nothing personal, doing my job in the ring."

And right now, nobody does it better.


There was a lot of talk about friction in Hatton's camp that centered on Floyd Mayweather Sr. and his inability to get along with the rest of the camp. What I found very interesting - and disturbing to be honest with you - was that after the fight as I moved my way along press row to the aisle where the fighters make their way back to the dressing rooms, while Hatton groggily walked to the bowels of the arena, he was not accompanied by Mayweather Sr.

In fact, Mayweather Sr. wouldn't make his way for another 10 minutes or so. And as he did, he was taking pictures, signing autographs and smiling the whole way as if he didn't have a care in the world. Is this the way someone should conduct themselves after their fighter was savagely knocked out? And no matter what he says, he was in that corner and in fact was introduced by Michael Buffer, in a first. You may have had disagreements with Hatton and his team in the lead-up to that fight, but doesn't he deserve more respect than that?

If he was so willing to accept all the plaudits for his fighter’s victory and then call out Freddie 'the Joke Coach' Roach (as he calls him), then shouldn't he be willing to accept at least some accountability for what took place on Saturday night? I happen to get along with Floyd Sr., but in this instance he was completely out of line. As they say, when you point fingers, three of them come right back at you.

I always thought that this was a rather strange union, Hatton and Mayweather. Not only from a stylistic perspective of boxing, but also from a personality standpoint. And was it just me, or did anyone find it a bit strange and unsettling that on 24/7 that Mayweather had no problems in making a 'run for the border' and grabbing some Taco Bell and being tardy for his training session with Hatton? If he would do that while the cameras were on him, just how many times was he late before and after?

I was told that Oscar De La Hoya was infuriated by the results of the fight and had some harsh words for Mayweather Sr. afterwards in the dressing room.


One thing I found interesting about the bout between Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez on July 18th is that when the media asked just what the weight limit would be for this fight, they were told, '143, give or take a pound.'


What is this, a pay-per-view main event, or a six-round swing bout on a club show?


OK, so based on the last three Pacquiao fights, does the equation go like this: Diaz > De La Hoya > Hatton?....Seriously, did you ever think that Diaz would be more competitive versus Pacquiao than those other two?....Don't know about you guys, but I thought the most impressive prospect on that pay-per-view card was Matt Korobov, by far. I think this guy is the goods....I thought Urbano Antillon was solid in dispatching Tyrone Harris in five on Friday night at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas.....That was a pretty good scrap between Alfonso Gomez and Juan Buendia. Gomez would stop Buendia in the 8th round with a body shot....

Source: maxboxing.com

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