I miss the Manny Pacquiao of old, but who am I to complain?
As the fight of the century came to a close, Floyd Mayweather remained undefeated and cemented his claim as TBE — The Best of this Era (not ever). He defeated an opponent that many considered as the only fighter who had a chance to put one loss on his record. The fighter that showed up on Saturday (Sunday in the Philippines) though was not Manny Pacquiao. He wasn’t the Manny Pacquiao everyone has been used to seeing — the typhoon, the whirlwind, the unstoppable force. Quite frankly, he wasn’t the Manny Pacquiao of old.
After the fight, a lot of people (most Pacquiao fans) still say that it was a bad decision. Luto! they screamed and howled on social media. They said that Pacquaio was the aggressor for most of the bout. Floyd hugged, ducked, and ran away from our National Fist. If you’re a casual boxing fan you’ll probably agree as well. It certainly looked like Manny was going after Floyd for most of the 12 rounds. But a deeper inspection of the numbers reveals that Floyd Mayweather Jr. won the fight, fair and square.
From CompuBox’s statistics, it’s very clear who threw more punches. It was also very clear who landed more punches. With such large advantages across the board, nobody can question Mayweather’s victory and his mastery of the sport. We can debate about whether his style is good for boxing, but there is no doubt that it works.
In terms of the judging, two of the three judges had it just about right, while the other judge, who only gave Pacquiao two rounds, was being overly generous to Mayweather. It was a wire-to-wire victory for Mayweather but it doesn’t mean Pacquiao was embarassed. Through the 9th round, Pacquiao was still very much in the fight. He could’ve forced at least a draw had he been more aggressive and really unloaded in the last three rounds of the fight. We needed the Pacquiao of old to unleash. But the flurry from Manny never came.
What happened to Manny Pacquiao?
It was a strange sight – a counter puncher outpunching a volume puncher. It was frustrating.
A sense of urgency in the corner of Freddie Roach was never felt for most of the fight. It’s as if they were content with what Pacquiao was doing. Manny was reduced to being an ordinary fighter. It wasn’t the Pacquiao we’ve all been used to seeing.
Maybe it was because of his shoulder injury. Maybe Alex Ariza is right when he said Manny’s team was the problem. Maybe Floyd Mayweather was just a really bad match-up for him. Maybe the years and wear and tear from being punched for a living have finally caught up with our hero. The theories could go on and on — we’ll never really fully understand what happened that night.
Everyone that has followed Pacquiao’s illustrious career was left befuddled. Everyone from the fans to the media were perplexed as to what happened. Really? That was the fight of the century?
Truth be told, I really miss the Manny Pacquiao of old. The Manny Pacquiao that destroyed opponents that stood in his way. The Manny Pacquiao that would throw punches in bunches at angles that opponents could not see. If you were a fighting the vintage Manny Pacquiao, the only way you were getting out of that ring was by either getting saved by the referee, laying flat on the canvas, or retiring from the sport for good.
In the fight against Mayweather, there were flashes of brilliance here and there, but it was never sustained. Pacquiao’s best that night wasn’t good enough to foil Mayweather and he readily admitted it right after the fight.
Adding to our frustration was the fact that Manny Pacquiao was close — he wasn’t dominated, he wasn’t outclassed. If the Pacquiao of old showed up, I bet he could’ve done some serious damage to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
A lucky generation
But who am I to complain really? Even if the Tasmanian Devil version of Pacquiao never returns, he’s given 100 million Filipinos a once-in-multiple-centuries experience.
Think about it for a second. Apart from maybe Marcos and Cory Aquino, what other Filipino has been covered as in-depth as Manny Pacquiao? He’s graced the cover of Time Magazine, he’s been featured at length by the Washington Post, the New York Magazine, the New York Times, the Economist, Sports Illustrated and ESPN — the list goes on and on; he’s appeared on so many late-night talk shows in the US we can’t even keep count. Pop quiz: How many books have been written about Manny Pacquiao? (I don’t know either.) Mark Wahlberg is cheering for him? Big deal. Pacquiao has transcended so many cultural boundaries we’ve gotten used to it.
Manny Pacquiao has spoiled us with the things he has accomplished inside and outside the boxing ring. After being the first and only eight-division world champion, after ten world titles, after being named as the “Fighter of the Decade” by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), what more could we ask for from Pac-Man?
What Manny Pacquiao does in his boxing career from here on out doesn’t matter anymore. He has already cemented his place in the list of all-time boxing greats. Whatever happens in the next couple of years, whether he decides to fight two or three more times or he decides to hang it up for good, Pacquiao will be remembered as the “People’s Champ,” an all-time great who took on whoever they put in front of him, big or small. Ultimately, when we look back at Pacquiao, we won’t remember the 36-year-old version who took on Floyd Mayweather Jr. after he finally accepted the fight five years later. We’ll remember the Manny Pacquiao who took on the world’s longest odds — from absolute-poverty to the top of the world.
We shouldn’t dwell on the “what ifs” and the “maybes.” Instead, we should just enjoy the Pacquiao fever while it lasts. Who knows if we’ll ever have anyone even close to Manny Pacquiao again?
With that I say, maraming salamat, Manny. #LabanPacMan