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Monday, May 4, 2009

Mismatch yet again

Forgive me for playing boxing pundit again, but I think we could all be allowed more than a little bit of euphoria. Manny Pacquiao gave us Christmas in the middle of summer.

It’s really so good to be a Filipino when Manny wins. I know one Filipino who intentionally watched the Manny vs. Ricky Hatton fight in Nomads Club, an exclusive club tucked away inside Merville, ParaƱaque, that has more European, mostly British expatriate members than Filipino members. He was supremely confident of a Pacquiao victory and the boasting rights that go along with it. Of course, he wasn’t disappointed.

Freddie Roach was right all along. The loudmouth Floyd Mayweather Sr., can talk up the game all he wants, but as Roach said, he really had the better fighter. As it turned out, Pacquiao was way, way better. It was clearly a mismatch against Hatton in favor of the Filipino, just as it was when Pacquiao fought against Oscar De La Hoya.

They never gave Manny a chance against De La Hoya and he proved doubters wrong. Even when he won against the Golden Boy he didn’t get full credit. Hatton said Pacquiao won’t be fighting against a dehydrated De La Hoya this time. His trainer Mayweather said De La Hoya was over the hill when Pacquiao got to him. Mayweather didn’t consider for one second that it took his son Floyd Junior all of 12 rounds and a very controversial split decision to win against De La Hoya.

What they were saying was, it wasn’t just Pacquiao; that Manny’s opponents were just not at their best when they fought him (contrary to what Manny’s opponents were boasting all along before the fights).

It’s the same thing they said of Manny’s victories against Barrera and Morales. That Morales was dehydrated and had trouble making weight. That Barrera was too old. That Morales was too old. Excuses, excuses. They just couldn’t accept that Manny is that good, and is even getting better. But that is the solid truth—Manny was just the superior fighter.

All throughout, Manny, whether before or after his fights, made no empty boasts, and promised only to do his best and leave it all up to God. That’s why Filipinos and foreigners alike embrace Manny. He is the champion any country would like to have. He remains humble and God-fearing and treats his opponents with respect even after he demolishes them in the ring. He told De La Hoya, “You will always be my idol.” He gave Hatton credit for hitting him hard, and didn’t even mention that the British boxer was playing dirty by holding him and hitting him at the same time.

Manny does his talking on the ring and exacts his revenge through his victories. And it’s sweeter that way.

Watching the Pacquiao-Hatton 24-7 on the eve of the fight made by blood boil, I tell you. Hatton and Mayweather never gave Manny one ounce of respect. They called him an amateur among many other things. Never have I prayed for an overwhelming Pacquiao victory, one that would shut up critics once and for all.

Just remember that Floyd Mayweather Junior, that other loudmouth who is just like his father, who hit and ran away from De La Hoya, had trouble against Hatton and only got to him by the 10th round. But against Pacquiao, Hatton never stood a chance; he never hurt Manny, and went down in two rounds.

Who is left for Manny Pacquiao? So he retired the great Erik Morales. He retired the great Marco Antonio Barrera. The third part of that legendary Mexican triumvirate, Juan Manuel Marquez, he beat twice. He retired Oscar De La Hoya. Now, we hear people saying Ricky Hatton should call it quits too after that vicious head blow from Manny.

Manny Pacquiao is now not only the pound-for-pound king. People are saying he could very well be the greatest boxer ever, a title which once belonged only to the revered Muhammad Ali, who had none of Pacquiao’s humility during his prime.

Manny deserves all the accolades. I wish him the best. Most of all, I wish that he can retire in his prime, like I mentioned in a previous column. I don’t like him to retire a defeated fighter like his opponents. I don’t want him to retire hurt. Of course, he gives us so much joy and enormous pride when he’s fighting, but I still don’t want him fighting too long, long enough for father time to catch up with him. I want him to be able retire a champion, on his own terms, and at his best.


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