Jobu previews tomorrow’s upcoming fight between Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios.
There was a time when I would hear that Manny Pacquiao was fighting and I’d get excited. My boss is Filipino, so there’d be a lot of excited talk around the office and we even got together to watch his fight against “Sugar” Shane Mosley. The atmosphere in the bar during that fight was amazing, as everyone really seemed to appreciate the fact that they were watching possibly the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world (at the time) basically dismantle an aging Mosley. Those days of excitement are now gone. The shoe is on the other foot, and Manny seems to be the aging fighter. Instead of excitement, I only fear for Manny’s safety leading into his next fight tomorrow in China, as he takes on up-and-coming superstar Brandon Rios. I don’t think Manny should be fighting again, and I hope he makes it through this one in one piece.
Let’s first talk about the great Manny Pacquiao. Two fights ago, Manny was probably the best pound for pound boxer in the world. Everyone wanted to see him fight Floyd Mayweather, and lamented when the deal for the two legends to fight fell through. Pacquiao won a very controversial decision against Juan Manuel Márquez back in their third fight in November of 2011. Many thought he had been outpointed by Márquez, but he got the decision none the less. Manny then ran into Timothy Bradley, who beat him in a controversial split decision of his own. Many thought Manny had won that fight, but the win, and Manny’s WBO Welterweight title went to Bradley. The fight was actually reviewed by the WBO’s Championship Committee and ruled a clear victory for Pacquiao, but the decision could not be overturned.
That brought us to Manny’s next fight, another tussle with long time rival Márquez. This was the fight that exposed fans to something many of us thought we’d never see, as Pacquiao was brutally knocked out. Many assumed that Pacquiao’s career would be over, but the Filipino fighter soon announced that he’d be back (much to the chagrin of his long time trainer, Freddy Roach).
I’ll give Pacquiao some credit. He could have picked a softball opponent to get a win under his belt before climbing back into the mainstream title picture, but he didn’t. Rios wasn’t Pacquiao’s first choice, however. He wanted rematches with either Bradley or Márquez, but the two chose to fight each other instead. Either way, Manny chose a younger, hungrier opponent who will come at him the entire fight, wether it lasts three rounds or goes the distance. Rios is coming off of back-to-back fights against Mike Alvarado. The two boxers split the fights, with Rios earning a knockout in the first bout and Alvarado winning a decision in the second. The thing about these fights is that they were pretty brutal, as the two slugged it out against each other in pretty much all 19 combined rounds.
Can Manny Pacquiao still win that type of slugfest? Márquez crushed Pacquiao in their fight last December while fighting that kind of fight. He came at Pacquiao with everything he had (he had to, after three defeats). In the sixth round, Manny walked into a monster right hand near the ropes, knocking him immediately unconscious as he crumpled face first to the mat. We all remember the photo above. Manny looked completely lifeless. We also remember his wife, Jinkee crying and trying to get to the ring in a panic. Do we need a repeat of that? I know I don’t.
Manny’s own trainer, the aforementioned Freddie Roach, said himself that he might Manny to retire after the last Márquez fight (now Roach says a bad loss to Rios will decide that). I’ve watched both Rios/Alvarado fights. While a younger Manny Pacquiao would probably mop the floor with Rios, I think the current Manny is in a lot of trouble. You could make the argument that Manny is younger than Floyd Mayweather, Jr., who recently dominated and outpointed Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, a budding superstar 13 years his junior, as evidence that Manny is still capable of winning against younger, tougher fighters, but let’s face it. Manny has lost a step. Mayweather is not a slugger, and never has been. He’s always been a defensive wizard who relies more on his quickness and elusiveness to win fights. He has never taken the kind of punishment Pacquiao has taken throughout his career. Mayweather wasn’t a homeless teenager boxing for pennies in the Filippines. That’s just a fact. Manny has a lot more mileage on his body, and more importantly, his brain.
Here’s hoping Rios doesn’t seriously hurt the Pac-Man. If I’m wrong about this fight, I’ll be the first to print a retraction, but I think we’re in for another brutal knockout that will finally end Manny’s career. Hopefully it doesn’t affect his quality of life, and he can concentrate full time on politics, movies, singing and whatever else he does in the Philippines.
Here’s a preview, courtesy of HBO:
Featured image courtesy of: The Associated Press
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