By: Sergio L. Martinez
A lot has been made about Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao lacking the killer instinct in his recent fights. This issue looms so big that every major interview publication, on all realms of media, mention it in one way or another. Even the Home Box Office network, which is responsible for the televising Pacquiao-Bradley 2, made this subject the key element in their “Face Off” series with Max Kellerman. Throughout the broadcast, Kellerman cleverly maneuvered both Bradley and Pacquiao around this central theme, instigating Bradley to infuriate Pacquiao with accusations of not having the “fire” anymore. Although Pac Man’s demeanor appeared to be of a man that was nervous and extremely uncomfortable with this, he kept insisting that his aggression and “killer instinct” would be back in full force come April 12 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It is no secret that this contention of Pacquiao being “too nice” and no longer having the “edge” to destroy opponents stems from the Filipino’s lack of knockouts in his last seven fights, which has spanned almost five years. Pacquiao’s last brutal knockout was on November 14, 2009 against Miguel Cotto; a fight in which the Pinoy bomber busted up the Puerto Rican icon, bringing the fight to an end in a technical knockout after 12 stanzas. It was a great performance at the height of Pacquiao’s popularity.
The thing that the professional boxing public, fight fans, and media always fail to mention is that, since that Cotto fight, Pacquiao has faced pugilists that, quite frankly, are known for their durability and iron chins. Pacquiao’s last six opponents have been Joshua Colltey (never been stopped in 42 fights), Shane Mosley (stopped once in 58 fights), Juan Manuel Marquez (never stopped in 63 bouts), Antonio Margarito (stopped twice in 42 contests), Brando Rios (never stopped in 33 fights) and Tim Bradley (undefeated).
Pundits may then argue that Pacquiao had been stopping fighters prior to the Clottey fight that were also considered resilient. The thing to remember is that some of these boxers, like Oscar De Lay Hoya, were past their best days when they faced the Filipino, and the rest were smaller weight fighters like Solis, David Diaz, and Ricky Hatton. When Pacquiao was a lower weight in the first half of his career, his knockout power was showcased the best. Outside of Cotto, Pacquiao has shown that his punches continue to sting the bigger boys, but he can’t turn their lights out like before.
As the rematch with Bradley draws near, the clamor for a knockout is sure to crescendo as Bradley is clearly using this as a mental warfare tactic which has been evident during his camp. For Pac Man, the pressure will also continue to mount and it does not matter what Freddie Roach or anyone says about how it’s not important; he knows that his detractors believe he no longer has “it” in him to destroy, and his fans need for him to prove everyone wrong. This is a precarious predicament for the Filipino legend as shifting from a “winning” mindset to a “must destroy him” approach could easily lead to disastrous consequences.