(This piece appeared in InterAKTV on October 14, 2011.)
by Mark Lorenzana
— Just for the heck of it, today I searched for “Manny Pacquiao training distractions,” and got the following headlines in the first page alone:”Manny Pacquiao Dismisses Distraction Talk Leading Into Cotto Training Camp”
“Distractions Continue to Hound Manny Pacquiao”
“Despite distractions during camp, Pacquiao ready for Margarito”
“Pacquiao says distractions at home won’t derail title quest”
“Roach: Distractions part of lucky charm”
Next, I went to to BoxRec.com and checked out Pacquiao’s last fifteen fights, dating back to his first fight with Erik Morales six years ago, until his last fight against Shane Mosley this year. The results are as follows: 14 wins, 1 loss, 8 wins by knockout. Not bad for a guy who supposedly can’t focus on training, huh?
This just goes to show that Pacquiao is really a cut above the rest: he can take it easy and goof off early in training, pick up the pace a few weeks before the fight, and still destroy his opponent come fight night. Can you imagine any other boxer today slacking off in training and then ending up knocking out his opponent?
Curiously, though, recent reports coming out of Pacquiao’s training camp for his upcoming fight with Juan Manuel Marquez next month seem to project the opposite: everything has been smooth sailing so far. Even the recent Baguio camp, which had been a wellspring of headaches for Freddie Roach in the past, seemed to yield positive results. Pacquiao, by the way, is already in the United States and even broke his tradition of taking it easy on his first day in L.A. by immediately jumping into the ring for sparring. He went eight rounds against sparmates Jorge Linares and Ray Beltran. With exactly a month to go before the fight, I’m pretty sure that Pacquiao fans are happy to hear that this training camp has been perfect so far.
— Still on Pacquiao, some sources say that his next opponent, should he beat Marquez, could possibly be Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley. This is not a knock on the guy, but Bradley is a small and relatively light-punching light welterweight who’s half an inch shorter than Pacquiao. There’s no arguing that Bradley is a talented boxer — he’s undefeated, he’s the reigning WBO light welterweight champion, and he is rated seventh in Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound list.But I don’t really see him giving Pacquiao a good fight. I mean, the guy ducked Amir Khan because he was obviously scared of the Brit, and now he’s going to fight Pacquiao who’s stronger, faster, and punches harder?Another possible opponent for Pacquiao is middleweight Sergio Martinez, but anyone can see that he’s too big for Pacquiao. He can dehydrate himself until he’s as dry as a raisin (or Kenny Florian) just to make the 147-pound limit, but what would that accomplish? If he beats Pacquiao, people will say that the size advantage was just too great; if Pacquiao beats him, people will claim that the weight cut was just too drastic and severely affected Martinez, leading to his loss. Really, it’s a no-win situation for either fighter. Which is why everyone is just wondering, why couldn’t Pacquiao’s most logical opponent at this point just sign on the dotted line and make the fight happen? Which brings us to…
— Floyd Mayweather Jr. won’t fight Manny Pacquiao. Ever. Well, unless Mayweather sees a significant decline in Pacquiao’s speed, that is, then maybe he’ll consider. Just maybe.If we’ve learned anything from Mayweather’s last fight against Victor Ortiz (aside from the fact that Floyd can’t play fair even if his life depended on it and the fact that Ortiz actually has had a man crush on Mayweather for the longest time), it’s that Mayweather isn’t the same fighter he once was. Although he was winning the fight against Ortiz up until the unfortunate ending, it was apparent that he had lost a step or two.Sure, one can attribute it to Mayweather’s inactivity; that perhaps he was just a bit rusty after a long layoff, but I really think he’s not as quick as he once was. Make no mistake: Pacquiao is fast, but Mayweather is no slouch in the speed department either. Floyd makes his living at being perhaps the most elusive fighter today (with the exception of a younger version of Ivan Calderon). Obviously the mark of an excellent defensive fighter is the ability to time his opponent’s punches, but speed also plays a big factor. Pacquiao is a monster on offense because he’s fast; Mayweather is a wizard on defense because, well, he’s also fast. And with Mayweather’s speed and quickness not what it was a couple of years ago, he’s going to have a huge problem against Pacquiao.
So even if promoters guarantee Mayweather the biggest payday of his life to fight Pacquiao right now, and even if Floyd badly needs the money for whatever reason, he won’t take the fight. It’s actually funny (and strange) to see a guy who attaches “Money” to his name walk away from a guaranteed $50-million payday. Contrary to what people think, for Floyd, it’s not actually all about the money. Believe it or not, he’s also thinking about his legacy.
The sad thing is, he honestly thinks that his undefeated record will place him atop the all-time greats. When in fact, it’s fighting the best that will do that for him. And right now, one of the best is Pacquiao. If Floyd can just forget about the zero record, he’ll see that by fighting Pacquiao, he can have his cake and eat it too.