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Monday, May 4, 2009

Pacquiao is still peaking after all these years

You could be forgiven for having expected something slightly less spectacular from Manny Pacquiao Saturday night, if for no other reason than it seemed unlikely he’d be able to top what he’d done against Oscar De La Hoya last time out.

Ricky Hatton is a young, strong, world champion fighter, and Pacquiao had set the bar very high against De La Hoya, “The Golden Boy’s” age and obviously desiccated state notwithstanding.

So it wouldn’t have been shocking if Pacquiao failed to reach the expectations he created against De La Hoya. Indeed, the possibility that he would not and could not is what Hatton and his team counted on.

“He has had two fights above 130 pounds,” Hatton said before the fight “One was against Oscar. No punches were coming his way. I could look like Sugar Ray Robinson if my opponent fights like that against me.”

So what does Pacquiao do? He walks through Hatton like he’s not there.

This gives rise to the somewhat harrowing question: how good is Pacquiao going to get before we see a drop-off? When will we know that he has peaked? We keep waiting for the drop-off that never comes. The bigger the challenge, the better he is.

The blowout of Erik Morales in their rubber match. David Diaz. De La Hoya. Now Hatton. The only fighter that’s made Pacquiao look human is Juan Manuel Marquez.

And they’re not done with one another yet.

It’s damn unnatural, is what it is.

Every fighter reaches an apex in his career when his performance represents the best he ever has been and ever will be, and everything that follows is necessarily down hill. The examples in recent history are myriad.

Roy Jones appeared at the very height of his powers when he outpointed John Ruiz in 2003. His very next fight, the first against Antonio Tarver, initiated his alarmingly precipitous decline.

Kostya Tszyu never looked better than he did while blasting out Sharmba Mitchell in their rematch in November 2004. Next fight? Mauled, submitted, and retired by Hatton.

Shane Mosley nearly decapitated poor Adrian Stone to cement his status as the best in the world pound-for-pound in July 2001. Then disaster came against Vernon Forrest, who appeared on top of the world himself until Ricardo Mayorga mugged him in 2003.

Cristian Mijares was one of the best in the world. Until suddenly he wasn’t.
Pacquiao? Outside of the pedestrian win here and there -- such as those over Oscar Larios and Marco Antonio Barrera in their rematch -- he seems to raise the bar in every fight.

“Nobody’s gonna beat this Filipino—nobody!” Bob Arum told the press after Pacquiao pancaked Hatton. “What this man did is astounding. I have never seen such devastating, tremendous speed and power in the 40 years I’ve been in this business.”

The term hyperbole was invented with Arum in mind, but you can see why he’s excited. We all should be.

Still, sooner or later the drop-off will come and Pacquiao will lose. It can’t go on forever.

But get comfortable. It could be a while.

Some miscellaneous observations from last week:

“Crafty Little Fox”? Poor Humberto Soto. Who heads up the Fighters’ Nicknames division over at Top Rank, John Waters?…

Who’s even happier than Pacquiao at how things turned out? De La Hoya. He took Pacquiao’s bombs for eight rounds. Hatton was snoring in two…

I’m astonished that so few are giving Marquez any chance at all against Floyd Mayweather, most because -- get this -- Mayweather is bigger! When will we learn?…

Pacquiao is wealthy, adored by millions, and the world’s best fighter. If you weren’t feeling inferior enough, he’s also polite, humble, and gracious. Great…

There’s only one…translucent guy stretched out on the canvas. Guess who?…

Yes, Matt Korobov looked good, but his opponent, Anthony Bartinelli, gets to go home to Valerie. Who would you rather be?…

In case you missed it, Julio Cesar Chavez has launched an “energy drink” in Mexico, claiming the concoction is what he drank throughout his days as a champion. Who knew beer was so healthful?…

In case you missed it II: John Duddy lost to one Billy Lyell in Newark, New Jersey last week. As a result, Duddy fans all over the New York metro area are drowning their sorrows in Chavez’ energy drink…

Can we all agree to stop calling something a fight of the year kind of fight before the first bell has even rung?

Source: ringtv.com

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