When Will Manny Pacquiao Step Up?
By Kirk Jackson
Yes I am sure Mr. Pacquiao and his legions of fans are enjoying the spoils of his recent success and have every right to do so.
Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank
To many of us in the United States, he is celebrated as a great fighter. But around the world, especially in his homeland in the Philippines, he is celebrated as a great fighter, a politician, an ambassador of sportsmanship and acknowledged as a national hero.
But for the last three or four years of his professional boxing career, Pacquiao has not really accomplished anything to be celebrated for. At least not to the degree he currently is being heralded as.
His promoter Bob Arum, the HBO network, some friendly, misinformed ESPN analysts, and others in the different forums of media, have done a great job of marketing him as the figure he is today.
He is heralded as possibly one of the greatest fighters of all time, and currently according to the “Pacquiao promoters,” the greatest fighter of this era.
The question is what has Pacquiao really accomplished throughout his career?
Yes he has dozens of alphabet titles across several weight divisions, and a numerous supply of recognizable names on his resume.
Is he a great fighter? Yes no question, but his accomplishments especially as of late should hold an asterisk next to it.
How about we go over the opponent selection the last three years or so and you can decide for yourself.
While analyzing a fight, many people just look at the names on paper and depending on the names they see and the history of each person, they determine whether it’s a good fight or not.
People see Pacquiao vs. De La Hoya, and because of the history of each fighter come to the conclusion that it’s a good match up.
A funny thing is, people tend to conveniently neglect the circumstances of each fight. You have to look at the styles of each fighter, the recent history, and other things to determine the status of each fighter and the fight itself.
HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant makes a habit of criticizing or finding some sort of flaw in every single opponent Floyd Mayweather has faced.
An interesting note is recently Pacquiao has faced many of the same opponents Mayweather has faced, the same opponents Merchant has criticized, but only after Mayweather beat them.
Strange thing is, whenever Pacquiao goes up against that same opponent, and ultimately beats them, he gets all the praise in the world and there is no criticism from Merchant and some of the other analysts in the boxing world.
Those opponents include Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Shane Mosley. Mayweather and Pacquiao also faced Juan Manuel Marquez, with Pacquiao having faced Marquez before Mayweather.
Speaking of Marquez, he is the first fighter we’ll begin with while analyzing Pacquiao’s opponent selection over the past couple of years.
In 2008, the long awaited rematch between Pacquiao and Marquez for Marquez’s WBC Super Featherweight title took place.
This is the best fight for Pacquiao at the time, and because of the cerebral counterpunching style of Marquez, probably his most challenging. Can’t criticize Pacquiao for this fight, I commend him for this fight and he should get nothing but respect for taking this challenge.
After a tough fight against Marquez, which resulted in a controversial split decision victory for Pacquiao, he decides to move up in weight and fight David Diaz for an alphabet title in the lightweight division.
It should be noted at the time Diaz was the weakest title holder of the division, not really an upper tier fighter, basically a paper champion. He arguably lost to a faded Erik Morales prior to facing Pacquiao.
People remarked on the transformation of Pacquiao in his fight against Diaz. He looked stronger, faster, better conditioned and he outclassed Diaz. Perhaps it was the opponent, the addition of new strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, or maybe a combination of both. Whichever the case may be, he easily disposed of Diaz.
Later on in the year, Pacquiao would take on the faded legend Oscar De La Hoya, in a bout that was advertised as a “Dream Match.”
The fight took place at a catch weight, which was at the welterweight limit, which is a division Oscar has not even stepped in over seven years.
Granted, this was Pacquiao’s first bout above 135 pounds, so you would think there was some risk for him as well.
There would be a risk, if it were against a live opponent, something Oscar clearly wasn’t. His previous fight against Steve Forbes proved that.
Pacquaio’s head trainer Freddie Roach offered his opinions on the current form of De La Hoya to FoxSports.com stating, “From the Mayweather fight, to the Forbes fight, to the Pacquiao fight, there was a steady decline in Oscar.”
And also added, “Don’t kill yourself to make weight, don’t burn yourself out. Fight at a more natural weight, that’s what Pacquiao did.”
“I saw the IV in his arms, I saw the fresh IV marks. They hydrated him too late. He was dehydrated after the fight, I got the report in from the doctors, it was dehydration.”
Anyone who knows boxing could see the deterioration in De La Hoya. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach even said it.
After the demolition of the Golden Boy, Pacquiao sought out England’s Ricky Hatton.
Entering the fight against Pacquiao, Hatton was coming off a devastating knock out loss against Floyd Mayweather and had questionable performances against Juan Lazcano and Paulie Malignaggi.
Some people, including Roach, saw the same decline in Hatton as they did with De La Hoya.
In an interview with FightFan.com, Roach commented on Hatton saying, “He’s not the same fighter as he was before the Mayweather fight, I think Mayweather took something out of him. He looked pretty shaky in the Lazcano fight.”
It’s obvious Hatton was a shell of his former self. It was even noted by the BBC in his sparring sessions leading up to his fight with Pacquiao, as he was getting outclassed by Cuban amateur star Erislandy Lara and was dismissed early because of the punishment he was dealing to Hatton.
New trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. turned out to be an experiment gone wrong in the corner of Hatton and he was quickly disposed of.
After failed negotiations with the Mayweather team, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum continues a trend that will be noticeable in upcoming Pacquiao fights.
Matching Pacquiao with fighters on the downslide or at a catch weight, that may also happen to be under Top Rank Promotions.
After the Hatton fight, with Mayweather on the backburner, the match up of Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto came into fruition.
The problem with this fight is, Cotto is a one year removed from the monstrous beating he took from the hands of Antonio Margarito and only a few months removed from his controversial victory over Joshua Clottey.
The hand wrap scandal with Margarito is highly publicized. While it is unknown whether he used illegal hand wraps against Cotto in their bout, it’s clearly evident to most boxing experts and fans that Cotto was not the same person after that fight, and there has been an obvious decline since.
In an interview with therewillbeblood.com, Freddie Roach stated, “The big thing right now is he the same fighter that he once was since the fight with Margarito, how much did that take out of him? He took a lot of punishment in that fight, he hasn’t really looked good since that fight.”
It’s bad enough Cotto struggled against Clottey prior to his fight against Pacquiao. To add to that, he changed trainers after a fall out with his uncle/trainer Evangelista Cotto. If that wasn’t bad enough, in order to secure a fight with Pacquiao, Cotto had to meet him at a catch weight of 145 pounds.
Last I checked, the welterweight limit is 147.
When Cotto decided to make a stand and chose not to defend his title because of the catch weight issue, Cotto was stripped of his welterweight title thanks to his own promoter Arum and WBO president Francisco Varcarcel. Cotto was then informed even if he were to emerge victorious, the title would become vacant.
After defeating Cotto at the catch weight of 145 pounds for the WBO Welterweight title, Pacquiao elected to fight Ghanaian native Joshua Clottey after negotiations with Floyd Mayweather failed again.
Clottey is not a bad fighter and at the time was generally considered a top ten welterweight, some may argue top five. I certainly thought of Clottey as a talented fighter with boxing skills.
The only problem I saw with Clottey is his tendency to fall short in big fights, and from a stylistic standpoint, this was not a good match for him because he lacks mobility and is not a high volume puncher.
At the time of the cancellation of the bout between Shane Mosley and Andre Berto, I’m sure many fans would of liked to see Pacquiao take the challenge and face Mosley. Mosley at the time, was the number one recognized welterweight after his destruction of Margarito.
Everyone has their own opinion on who Pacquiao can choose as an opponent. But to Freddie Roach, it is all to clear.
According to Roach in an interview with Therewillbeblood.com, he states, “We can make twice the amount of money fighting Cotto than we can Shane. So that’s the way we are gonna go, it’s a business right now.”
Roach continued to add, “Shane came to my gym twice to negotiate the fight with me. I say Shane can you make 142, 143, he says no. I say well then there’s no fight. He says you fought Oscar at 147, I say you’re not Oscar.”
“He’s better than Oscar, you know the thing is, why should I give him an advantage you know. Manny holds the 140 pound title, we’re not looking to go up and fight for his title.”
Yet Pacquiao went up and took Cotto’s welterweight belt at the catch weight of 145?
After the one sided beat down of Top Rank compatriot Clottey, Pacquiao decided to face the currently inactive and controversial Antonio Margarito.
Margarito entered his bout against Pacquiao having recently struggled against perennial tomato can Roberto Garcia. Before the Garcia fight, Margarito was suspended a year from boxing because of his illegal hand wrap situation.
Even before his suspension took place, in his first title defense after conquering Miguel Cotto, Margarito was physically dominated and ultimately knocked out by Shane Mosley.
So coming off recent inactivity, a knockout loss and a life and death victory over a fringe contender, Margarito somehow gets a shot against Pacquiao for a vacant junior middleweight title. The same title that was stripped from p4p elite Sergio Martinez. That in itself doesn’t make any kind of sense.
If that isn’t bad enough, there was a catch weight for this fight as well.
The junior middleweight limit is 154 pounds, this bout took place at 150 pounds.
This fight was hyped up and advertised as a David vs. Goliath match up with Margarito being some sort of gigantic, unstoppable force.
But as predicted by actual boxing experts, this fight was heavily one sided in Pacquiao’s favor, although he did have a few scary moments in the fight.
Next up to bat for team Pacquiao, Shane Mosley. This would have been a good fight if the match was made a year or two ago.
But after Pacquiao’s initial refusal to fight, Mosley since went up against and lost a one sided clinic to Floyd Mayweather, and looked dreadful in his draw against Sergio Mora at junior middleweight.
After the two consecutive pitiful performances from Mosley, for whatever reason, Pacquiao decided to face Mosley. What was hyped up as one the great action packed fights of the year turned out to be one of the worst aesthetically pleasing fights of recent memory.
When it was all said and done, it was another one sided victory, over a down the hill, outmatched opponent for Pacquiao.
Which brings us back to Juan Manuel Marquez. They are scheduled to meet in the ring for the third time November 12th of this year.
These two fighters, great in their own right, have a well documented rivalry. Their two previous fights produced a controversial draw and split decision victory for Pacquiao in the second fight.
Honestly, you can make valid arguments for either fighter on as to who won each fight. Many including myself, wanted to see a third fight between the two to cap off the trilogy.
While it is finally happening, I’ll make the case the timing is off and it’s a tad too late for this fight to be happening.
An immediate fight between the two should have followed after the second fight if anything, instead the path Pacquiao chose ran its course, leaving Marquez chasing Pacquiao from division to division.
It was a wise choice for Pacquiao, as his popularity, status in the boxing world and income has sky rocketed because of this path.
Going back to the fight, being that it is at a catch weight of 144 pounds is another problem. The only way for Marquez to get this fight was to agree to fight above 135, where he has no business at.
He tried that once before, and was outclassed against Mayweather in his come back fight after an 18 month absence.
Marquez recently fought a tune up at 140 against some no hoper named Likar Ramos and is body looked terrible. Marquez couldn’t even get up to 140, he weighed in at 138.
In regards to the Pacquiao fight, look, I’ll save you the suspense. Marquez’s style and his ability to counterpunch will always present problems for Pacquiao. Unfortunately for him, he is getting up there in age and he does not carry the extra weight as well as Pacquiao does and is at a disadvantage.
Marquez will have his moments, but I can’t foresee him lasting more than six rounds. The outcome of this fight is not in question. I am curious as to who the next opponent for Pacquiao will be.
Will Pacquiao face recent ko victim Victor Ortiz? Or maybe Zab Judah? Or will it be old rival Erik Morales for a fourth time? Rest assured, I doubt a fight with Floyd Mayweather, Amir Khan or anyone who can offer a challenge is on the horizon.
And that’s the thing. The so called p4p king has been facing questionable opposition in recent years. But because he has a nice personality, the backing of major networks and an outstanding promoter, people fail to acknowledge it.
These ESPN and HBO experts either lack the knowledge they claim to have or refuse to acknowledge what the real issue is because they think of Pacquiao as such a nice guy.
Guys like Skip Bayless, Michael Wilbon, Larry Merchant and many others are clearly clueless about the sport or must have some sort of bias.
Sprinkle in some contradicting, biased commentary from old time boxing reporter Bert Sugar and the mission is complete.
One of the few people that calls it like it is and that actually has experience in the boxing world and is renowned for his abilities of being a world class trainer is Teddy Atlas.
Some may ask, who else could Pacquiao have faced to have the legitimacy of being called the p4p king?
At lightweight, or even super featherweight, Pacquiao could of fought guys like Juan Diaz, Zahir Raheem, Joan Guzman, Joel Casamayor or even Michael Katsidis. Instead he fought David Diaz.
At junior welterweight and above, there’s guys like Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan, Floyd Mayweather, or even Devon Alexander. But instead it was deteriorated versions of Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.
He could of went out and fought Shane Mosley at an earlier time, but he waited for him to show even more signs of decline. He is probably is waiting on Mayweather to do the same.
The intent of this article isn’t to discredit Manny Pacquiao. He is obviously a talented fighter and has achieved a lot especially as of late.
I am pointing out the obvious, and whether you like it or not the truth is in plain sight.
Refusing to take random blood tests is not a valid excuse to duck Mayweather. If you’re a clean fighter as you claim to be, there shouldn’t be a problem. Ortiz agreed to it, as did Mosley.
You can complain and say the random Olympic style testing is beyond the jurisdiction and not part of the Nevada State Athletic Commission regulations and rules, and you‘re correct in stating that.
But neither are the demands you and your team make. Your weight request for the gloves, the ten million dollar weight penalty and the ring size concessions (that oh by the way Mayweather agreed to) are not part of the rules and regulations of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, for welterweight bouts, the gloves are required to be ten ounces unless both parties can agree to a different weight requirement for the gloves. I believe you wanted eight ounce gloves.
Fighting for titles at catch weights, dictating weight penalties, etc. is not a part of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Getting into the whole blood testing thing is a series of articles in itself. With that said, Mayweather is willing to undergo the same random testing you will be going through. There is no advantage.
And if you continue to refuse to fight Mayweather, then fight a decent fighter in their prime. Step up, test yourself and give the fans a legit reason to cheer for you.