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Manny Pacquiao: Style vs. Substance

By Kirk Jackson

Much to everyone’s delight, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KO) returned to glory, ending a two fight losing streak this past weekend when he defeated the iron-chinned Brandon Rios 31-2-1 (23 KO’s), at the Cotai Arena, Venetian Resort, Macao, Macao S.A.R., China.

It was a 12-round unanimous decision, leaving most fans amazed, and with crazed fans of the Filipino Superstar claiming the eight division champion was back on top and ready reclaim his throne on top of the boxing world.
Some people are even saying Pacquiao is ready for the long-awaited clash his undefeated rival and Pound-For-Pound King Floyd Mayweather 45-0 (26 KO’s).

This performance from Pacquiao raises a few questions. Was this last outing from Pacquiao all smoke and mirrors, or is he truly back?

After witnessing his performance, long-time nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez has expressed his opinion to boxingscene’s Salvador Rodriguez.

“It was important for Manny Pacquiao to look good, so they gave him an opponent like Brandon Rios for his return and he looked impressive,” said Marquez. “I believe that Bob Arum is doing his job in getting him these types of opponents, but it will be important to see him (Pacquiao) face tougher competition and see how he looks against those kind of fighters after suffering that knockout.”

“When Manny Pacquiao fights someone with speed and intelligence, someone who counters – Manny does not know what to do or what to expect.”

Nice foreshadowing from Marquez… So he basically feels this was a set-up fight to make Pacquiao look good and fighters like himself, Timothy Bradley and Floyd Mayweather, who is the quickest and best counter-puncher out the bunch, would give Pacman problems.

Marquez was spot on with his assessment of Arum’s matchmaking. Place Manny in the ring with a fighter who lacks defense, flat footed and who comes straight forward. The result will be an entertaining fight for the fans, with Manny emerging as the victor.

The constant echoing of plans from Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum to pit Pacquiao against Mayweather was a brilliant ploy of promotion leading up to the Pacquiao-Rios fight. It’s a tactic repeated for many fights now by Arum, who probably has no intention of making this fight happen.

There are many people who said Pacquiao hasn’t looked good in a couple of years, or that he is on the decline and isn’t the same fighter anymore. Those cynics, fans and casual critics are wrong. At age 34, is Pacquiao as fast as he was at age 30? Of course not. Every fighter declines slowly but surely at some point, but Pacquiao is still to this day extremely fast and sharp.

Pacquiao looked bad against Marquez several times, looked bad against an injured Timothy Bradley and did not look all that great against Shane Mosley in recent years. That is more of a reflection of the style of fighter he was up against.

As mentioned by Marquez, and any other astute observer of the sport of boxing can clearly see, Pacquiao does not do well against fighters who possess good lateral movement, have above average defensive skills, fighters who can counter-punch and fighters with good hand speed.

And even though the tread on the tire was wearing thin for Mosley and Marquez is probably on his last wheels as well, their lateral movement, ability to duck and avoid punches and the ability to counter-punch especially in the case of Marquez, gave Pacquiao problems.

And that’s what many die hard Pactards have failed to realize. It’s a matter of style. Guys like Rios, David Diaz, Antonio Margarito = tailor made. Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton at their states leading up to their fights against Manny = tailor made.

Do I honestly feel like Manny Pacquiao is willing to fight any fighter? Yes I do. He doesn’t make the fights, it’s up to his promoter Bob Arum and his trainer Freddie Roach to handle the match-making.

For all of the Pacquiao fanatics and misinformed casual fans of the sport, who seem to believe a certain fighter is afraid of another fighter because they have no understanding of the politics of boxing and listen to biased commentary spewed on HBO and ESPN, here’s something to chew on.

Floyd Mayweather is not afraid of Manny Pacquiao and Manny Pacquiao is not afraid of Floyd Mayweather. The common misconception is of such, especially on Mayweather’s part, who by the way has gone up against and defeated bigger punchers and stronger fighters than Manny Pacquiao.

Arum wants to keep the money in-house, keep the money within the stable of Top Rank fighters. That’s why there is a beef between Top Rank and Golden Boy, that’s why there is a beef between the networks HBO and Showtime. That’s why we will not see some great matches in boxing, in particular within the welterweight division and specifically with Mayweather and Pacquiao.

There is a little bit more versatility in the kind of match-ups that can be made with Golden Boy and Showtime, but after a while even they will run out of options.

Just look at Top Rank, that’s why we will either see Pacquiao vs. Marquez 5, 6 and 7 or a Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2, before we ever see a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight.

And that’s why we saw Manny Pacquiao against Top Rank fighter, Brandon Rios. Rios who was called by Freddie Roach “A walking punching-bag,” who was coming off a loss against Mike Alvarado and who was entering his first fight at welterweight, after spending 31 of his 33 fights at lightweight. It’s all part of the plan.
Theoretically, it’s okay for Pacquiao to fight Rios but if Mayweather were to fight him he would be crucified by fans and the media alike.

Politics, Politics, Politics…

Manny Pacquiao isn’t back, because he really never left. It was always just a matter of style.

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