The Pacman Is Back To Square One

Perhaps, Erik “Terible” Morales has heard the advises of Mr. Al Mendoza, the Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist which wrote that in order for Morales to escape virtual defeat in the hands of Filipino southpaw Manny Pacquiao, he has to take in Angelo Dundee as his trainer. At most, Angelo Dundee must have not been in Morales’ corner this afternoon when he bloodied Pacquiao’s countenance on the way to 12-round unanimous victory, but to be sure Morales did what Mr. Dundee would most probably advise any fighter facing a boxer like Manny Pacquiao and that is, to keep out of punching range, to move and glide, to dance away and never engage in furious exchanges of blows.

Angelo Dundee was a main man behind the success of Muhammad Ali and its no wonder that the greatest boxer of all time dances like a butterfly and stings likes a bee. In Al Mendoza’s book however, Mr. Dundee is most remembered for crafting the successful comeback of Sugar Ray Leonard from a long five-year hiatus in order to beat Marvin Hagler. Leonard did this rare feat by “not mixing up with the guy”.

In the early rounds of the Pacquiao-Morales fight this afternoon, it looked like Manny Pacquiao was dictating the pace and keeping Morales out of range; staging quick rampages that somehow made Morales take steps backward. Morales on the other hand was doing the right thing by creating enough distance between him and Pacquiao and treating the fight like the mental fighter that he is. In the next half of the fight, the Pacman got basically tired of running after “Terible” and with blood spurting from a bad cut ihe suffered in the head---gravely disturbing his peripheral view---he just run out of punches that judges couldn’t give him the win. In summary, Pacquiao could have won the fight if Morales had decided to a brawl, a no-holds barred punching extravaganza. But it didn’t turn out that way.

If Manny Pacquiao overcame the all too stealthy Morales, he would have been queued for the super-featherweight title fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, another Mexican whom he had drawn last year in a non-title encounter. But for now, he would have to treat everything like he is just starting over and slowly climb towards title contention again. It has been done before by boxing greats like Sugar Ray Leonard and Luisito Espinosa; there should be no reason why he can’t lick his wounds for now and after that, start training his sight on the title once more, and go back to rigid training.

There is one thing I see as the Achilles heel of Manny Pacquiao and that is the somewhat unfamiliarity he has to this super-featherweight division that he had gone up to---he is fighting not in his natural weight. When he started as a professional boxer, he was a bludgeoning flyweight eating up every opponent on his way, until he moved to being a junior featherweight and had similar success. But now he is showing his wares in the super-featherweight division and he fares miserably. I know of course that pro boxers nowadays almost always go up in weight divisions but what I have observed in Pacman’s case was that the shift was too fast for comfort. You know in scuba diving, when one is underwater, one is advised not to rise to the surface of the ocean so fast because the abrupt changes in water pressure will harm the body gravely and may lead to death. That’s what I felt when Pacquiao decided to slug it out with guys who were natural in heavier weight divisions. Guys there are taller, their bodies wider and their reach longer. Maybe, it will take sometime for Manny to get used to the super-featherweight division that he has chosen to fight in and by then, he’d be so successful in it that he would just mow down every opponent along his way. But for now, he needs to make time agree to his choice of a heavier weight boxing division. He needs to make the fruit ripen naturally and not seek its sweet nectar through artificial means.
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