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Monday, May 4, 2009

The Walking Boxing Adage that is Manny Pacquiao

By Bong Paredes: There are many adages in boxing that a lot of sports journalists use like “Speed Kills”, “You can’t hit what you can’t see “, and the one that Mike Tyson made famous “Everybody’s got plans until they get hit”. After watching Pacquiao dismantle the former light welterweight king Ricky Hatton for two action packed rounds, the aforementioned adages seemed to fit perfectly in this situation.

I’m not going to try and sound like a genius by saying I knew all along that Pac will beat Hatton (though I really did) because even though that’s what eventually transpired, we all know that anything can happen in a prize fight. Even if Hatton is the clear underdog heading into the fight, he was a very live underdog as he was never beaten at 140 lbs..

When this fight was first announced everybody said that Hatton will be dismantled by Pac. After all didn’t he just “disfigure Dela Hoya’s beautiful face” as HBO’s Jim Lampley said? Hatton himself was quick to discredit that accomplishment saying that anybody would have beaten Dela Hoya that night. I agree that Oscar was nowhere near his best but what Ricky neglected to acknowledge was much of what happened that night was also because of the things Pac did well as opposed to what Oscar did not do. He kept on rambling about how much improvement he’s made, that he uses the jab more often and that his defense has improved to the point that he’s not going to be that easy to hit. Ricky would always point to his fight with Malignagi as reference should someone ask. In one episode of the 24/7 series of HBO Ricky went on to say that Pac does the same move every single time. Ironically, it’s the same move (or punch, the right hook) that led to his demise last night. He also said he’s going to win because he was a naturally bigger and stronger fighter and that Pac will not be able to deal with him.

I wonder if he really believed all of the things he said or if he just said those things to help sell the fight because after he was stormed by Pacquiao last night I remembered what both David Diaz and Oscar Dela Hoya said after they lost to PACMAN. Diaz said it’s not that he hits very hard, it’s his speed. He couldn’t see where the punches were coming from. He also said that Pac’s speed is deceiving because he doesn’t seem that fast on video. Oscar told Roach he was right in saying he can’t pull the trigger anymore. But part of it was because Pac did an excellent job of darting in and out to the point that Oscar was never able to find his groove and time Pacquiao. He was expecting Manny to use the jab and the fact that Manny used the short left to close the distance further confused him. Hatton obviously underestimated Manny’s speed and overestimated his by thinking he can lunge in without getting caught which proved disastrous for him as Manny was beating him to the punch every single time. The replay of the first knockdown says it all. The moment Manny noticed that Hatton would throw a wide left hook; he threw a short right hook of his own that hit Ricky flush as he ducked under Hatton’s hook in one motion. If there was a video illustration of “Speed Kills” in a boxing dictionary, that would be it.

Since day one, Hatton’s new trainer Floyd Sr. would often refer to Pacquiao as an amateur and that with him training and teaching Hatton how to box and the intricacies of the sweet science which includes “hit and not be hit” he’s certain that Hatton will be victorious. Hatton, if your going to listen to him before the fight talked a good game as well. He talked about how he’ll use the jab more like he did to Malignaggi and how he has improved his defense working with Floyd. Well, as what Mike Tyson would always say “Everybody’s got plans until they get hit”. The moment he got a taste of Manny’s speed and power, everything went out the window and he went back to what he knows best which is to brawl. Unfortunately for him Manny did a great job fighting at a distance and just pot shot Hatton till he got knocked out cold at the end of the 2nd round.

The sport of boxing is nowhere near as popular as it used to but it seems to be making some strides here in the Philippines thanks to Pacquiao’s ascension to greatness by continually challenging himself and always rising to the occasion every single time. As an iconic figure that every Filipino can identify with he brings the sport of boxing with him. He’s so big in The Philippines that referring to him as a “larger than life” superstar is an understatement and wouldn’t do him any justice.

If he’s popular now, I can’t even fathom what he’d be like if he could beat the former pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. should they meet up sometime this year. But until then, let’s just sit back and enjoy Pacquiao’s biggest accomplishment to date by becoming The Ring Magazine light welterweight world champion by beating Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton. After all, “There’s only oooooooonne Manny Pacquiao!!!


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