The Pacquiao-Marquez IV Aftermath: Redefining Legacies

(This piece appeared in my now defunct fight blog, Pinoy Fight Scribe, in 2012.)

by Mark Lorenzana

No, Manny Pacquiao doesn’t owe anyone anything.

In his meteoric rise, from up-and-coming fighter who started his career in the now-defunct Blow by Blow boxing program to becoming one of the pound-for-pound greats while annihilating supposedly bigger and stronger opponents en route to becoming the first and only eight-division world champion so far, the Pacman hasn’t owed anyone anything.

Not to us, his proud and awe-inspired countrymen, who have never failed to tune in to any of his fights. Certainly not to the self-serving politicians—who plucked him away from the dangerous squared ring and introduced him to the even-more dangerous political arena—who only have their own and their family’s self-interests in mind. Not to the shameless leeches and hangers-on in his grossly overblown entourage who cling to him for dear life in fear of losing their one and only meal ticket. No, not even to his “god”—whoever he or she or it is right now, in whatever reincarnation or shape or form, rosaries or signs of the cross or other pre- or post-fight rituals notwithstanding—whom he had never failed to give praise to or thanks to in the course of his brilliant and illustrious career whether in a win, in a loss, or in a draw.

No, Manny Pacquiao doesn’t owe his success inside the ring and outside of it to anyone—or anything—in particular.

One can argue that perhaps the Pacman owes a lot of his success to his long-time trainer, Freddie Roach, who has helped shape Pacquiao from a gangly, left-hand-happy, whirling dervish of a dynamo that struck fear into the hearts of lower-weight fighters into a more calculated, two-fisted offensive machine with improved defense, a fighting machine that effectively chopped down bigger opponents campaigning in the higher weight divisions.

One can also argue that perhaps the Pacman owes a lot of his success to his once-unparalleled work ethic, which has had Roach beaming with pride not so long ago and which has had the five-time BWAA Trainer of the Year pull his prized pupil back at times during training lest his ward—champing at the bit—invest all his energy in the gym, punishing the punch mitts and the heavy bags and the speed bags and his sparring partners instead of unleashing all his bottled-up energy inside the squared ring in front of his opponent.

One can, perhaps, also argue that the Pacman owes a lot of his success to his pure love of the fight game. A love that has, until recent years, prompted Pacquiao to focus squarely on the task at hand and leave all the other non-boxing distractions out the door of the Wild Card gym and just buckle down to work. And by work we might actually mean real boxing-related training: genuine training that doesn’t include basketball with the gang and badminton and volleyball with the missus and dancing the Gangnam Style at the daughter’s birthday party. By work we might actually mean setting up camp early in Los Angeles and not shuttling to and fro from Baguio to Manila to the Wild Card or from Sarangani to General Santos to the Wild Card or wherever. By work we might actually mean taking care of the body by resting right and sleeping early during a training camp and not staying up all night in cockfights and drinking sessions and, more importantly, Bible studies because, really, isn’t it the body and not the “soul” that a boxer is putting to the test inside the squared ring against an opponent who has an equal love of the game and who has also put in the same amount of hard work, or even more so, for several months in a vow to take your damn head off?

One can argue that perhaps the Pacman owes a lot of his success to all three: a great trainer who has always had his ward’s welfare in mind, an excellent work ethic, and an unadulterated passion for boxing.  The trainer, of course, who will tell him when the time is right to hang up his gloves for good, which might not be very long from now. The work ethic that has since branched out from the gym and ring and enthusiastically parlayed into politics, TV, the movies, advertisements, and other pursuits. And the passion for boxing that burned and smoldered within him like a raging fire in his early years but has somewhat died down as of late, threatening to flicker into a dying flame.

Still, some would argue that, no, Manny Pacquiao doesn’t owe anyone anything.

One thing should be painfully apparent, however, after all the smoke has cleared: Manny Pacquiao owes it to himself at least to finally figure out who or what he really wants to be from now on—a full-time boxer or a full-time politician.  It’s about time, really. Because, as we all saw the other day when Juan Manuel Marquez—older, slower, less-physically gifted but a full-time boxer since 1993 until this very day—knocked Pacquiao out with a vicious and perfectly-timed counter right straight packed with dynamite, it never pays to be a part-time player in an extremely dangerous sport such as boxing (also known as the hurt business) where one fatal mistake could lead to potential life-threatening consequences.

Especially against an opponent, an Aztec warrior, who owed it to himself and to his countrymen to finally get that elusive win by dint of hard work and by doing what he really loved to do and, more importantly, by being just what he was until the time comes when he can’t be that person anymore—a fighter who respected the game enough to focus 100 percent on the task at hand.

No, the devastating knockout he suffered at the hands of Marquez will not erase Manny Pacquiao’s legacy as one of the greatest fighters of his era. Not at all, far from it. But it will, no doubt, redefine the legacy of one “Dinamita” Juan Manuel Marquez, one of the best counterpunchers the boxing world has ever seen and one of the most intelligent fighters the Pacman has ever faced.

I Know I Already Said I Won’t Blog About This Again, But What the Hell . . .

(This piece appeared in my now defunct fight blog, Pinoy Fight Scribe, in 2012.)

by Mark Lorenzana

WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao and WBC welterweight titlist Floyd Mayweather Jr. are, undoubtedly, the two biggest attractions in the sport of boxing today. Both fighters possess speed, power, ring smarts, and tough chins—attributes that have catapulted them to superstardom. Both boxers also possess varying fighting styles that, needless to say, promises an intriguing and mouthwatering matchup: Pacquiao’s relentless, unorthodox, and blitzkrieg offensive attack against Mayweather’s outstanding defensive skills and counterpunching prowess. This matchup is a boxing fan’s dream come true: one of the game’s best boxer-punchers in Pacquiao fighting one of the game’s best counterpunching stylists in Mayweather.

The problem, though, is that they aren’t fighting each other anytime soon.

It’s official: Pacquiao has signed to fight undefeated Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley on June 9. The report comes on the heels of the recent announcement by Mayweather that he will be facing Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto for the latter’s WBA super welterweight strap on Cinco de Mayo.

The news announcing both Pacquiao and Mayweather officially signing to fight different opponents signals the end of the much-heralded fight of the century for the time being and is, certainly, bad news. But on the flipside, this also signals the start of a moving-on phase that can only be good for boxing and for countless boxing fans who have been reduced to helpless pawns amid all the taunting and posturing by both camps the past several months.

That said, both boxers’ choice of opponents deserves a cursory glance, if only to make sense of the madness of it all.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley

– After Pacquiao struggled against Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight, a close fight that Pacquiao won by majority decision and a fight that not a few boxing pundits believed should have been awarded to Marquez, the consensus—both spoken and unspoken—around Boxlandia was that Mayweather was next for Pacquiao. But when feeble attempts at negotiations to make the dream fight fizzled out, several prospective opponents for Pacquiao cropped up overnight: Marquez, Cotto, Bradley, and even Lamont Peterson.

– Marquez was out of the running as a potential opponent for Pacquiao soon after he voiced out several demands before a fourth fight could happen, demands that Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum deemed too unreasonable, even crazy: a venue other than Las Vegas, neutral judges, and a bigger purse. (But Marquez was probably out of the running as a potential opponent for Pacquiao as early as the end of the third fight when everyone realized that the Mexican was the perfect foil for Pacquiao.) Marquez will, most probably, fight another rumored Pacquiao opponent, Lamont Peterson in mid July.

– Cotto was the initial pick by Pacquiao, but the Puerto Rican made it clear that he wouldn’t fight below 150 pounds. Cotto has been campaigning at 154 for his past three fights already, and Pacquiao wanted the fight at a catchweight of 145. It seems that the weight played a huge factor in Cotto’s decision to choose Mayweather, especially since the latter agreed to move up in weight to challenge Cotto.

– Timothy Bradley is young, undefeated, a good boxer with decent-enough skills, someone who has defeated quality opponents. But Bradley is not exactly a power puncher and is going up in weight to fight Pacquiao, a fighter who has been campaigning as a full-fledged welterweight for a total of five fights now. Pacquiao has dominated naturally bigger guys like Oscar De La Hoya, Cotto, Margarito, Joshua Clottey, and Shane Mosley and has only shown difficulties against defensive counterpunchers like Marquez. Bradley is not a defensive counterpuncher, is smaller, and will take the fight to Pacquiao. Problem is, Pacquiao tends to make mincemeat out of offensive-minded fighters who take the fight to him, especially someone smaller and who has no power punch.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto

A curious thing about this fight is that Mayweather has been avoiding Cotto for the longest time. This was when Cotto was still in his prime, when he was still undefeated, before he was beaten to a bloody pulp by Antonio Margarito and Pacquiao. Just recently, Mayweather dismissed Cotto as a potential opponent, saying he wouldn’t fight any of “Pacquiao’s leftovers.” Until now, that is.

– Cotto may be the naturally bigger man, but he is not the same fighter many years ago that Mayweather had been ducking. Mayweather, being the shrewd, cagey boxer/businessman that he is, won’t risk his undefeated record. He took the fight because he knows that he can—and will—beat this version of Cotto.

So here’s the sad part: there is still no guarantee that Pacquiao and Mayweather will immediately fight each other after they beat each of their respective opponents. Who knows? Maybe they will eventually come to their senses many, many years from now, when they are both too old and too infirm and too shot. But will boxing fans still care?

The Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez 3 Aftermath: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

(This piece appeared in my now defunct fight blog, Pinoy Fight Scribe, in 2011.)

by Mark Lorenzana

It’s been almost a week since the third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, and the buzz has yet to die down. I’ve already written my take on the fight, and I already posted on Facebook that I thought Pacquiao lost that fight. I scored the fight 115-113 for Marquez.

Some people tried to convince me that Pacquiao actually won that fight, that perhaps I was just too fixated on a knockout win for Manny and that’s why I failed to score the fight objectively. A friend even told me to watch the fight again and mute the TV so I wouldn’t be swayed by the commentators.

Two things: One, when I watched the fight I wasn’t originally listening to the commentators because I was sitting at a table that was too far from the TV for me to hear the audio. Two, I watched the fight a second time without the distractions and tried to be as objective as possible. I still ended up scoring the fight for Marquez.

For me it’s fine to score the fight for Pacquiao if you really thought he won. Last time I checked, this is still a free country. What gets my goat, however, are those Pacquiao nuthuggers who have been looking for excuses to explain why Pacquiao didn’t perform up to par in this fight.

Here’s a list of those excuses:

  1. Pacquiao had foot cramps. We have to give Manny the benefit of the doubt here because he had suffered from cramps in previous fights. But in those fights he still won convincingly, so perhaps this time the cramps were more severe than what he suffered before?

“It was difficult for Manny,” Roach said. “His in-and-out motion was affected and he was coming in flatfooted. The pain started in his arches and then spread up to his calf. It is something that we really have to figure out and we will get advice on it. This has happened in his last two fights and we want to get it fixed. We are not making excuses.”

I’m just wondering if Pacquiao also had foot cramps when he fought Marquez for the first time in 2004 and four years later in their first rematch in 2008. He also had trouble with Marquez in those two fights.

  1. Marquez cheated Pacquiao by stepping on Manny’s foot in the course of the fight. Check out YouTube, and you’ll see quite a few videos devoted to this topic. For me this is just too fucking moronic. What could be more idiotic than this? People who genuinely watch boxing know that when a southpaw and and orthodox fighter meet, it is normal for them to step on each other’s foot inadvertently. And when you think about it, would Marquez even bother to try and step on Pacquiao’s foot on purpose instead of just focusing on the damn fight and throwing his counterpunches? If he focused too much on trying to stomp on Manny’s foot, he’d be eating a Pacquiao knuckle sandwich in no time and find himself on his ass.

And it’s as if all that foot stomping would really make a huge difference in the fight. Also, isn’t it quite funny that we haven’t really heard of Pacquiao’s camp complaining about this? Anyway what’s ironic is that there are also quite a few videos in YouTube that show Pacquiao repeatedly stomping (inadvertently, of course) on Marquez’s foot the entire fight. I think this will finally put an end to this stupid issue. Then again, maybe not. Them Pactards are one tenacious and feisty bunch.

  1. Marquez was given an illegal substance to drink in between rounds. A few hours after the fight, some people have already posted pictures on Facebook showing Marquez chugging on a yellowish drink. Some thought it was an illegal mixed drink that the Marquez cornermen smuggled into the corner, while others thought it was urine. (Marquez’s own urine, of course. Heh.) Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, promptly cleared the matter up. “Water and electrolyte drinks are allowed in the corner. Any electrolyte drink must be brought to the arena in factory-sealed, plastic bottles. Mr. Marquez used water and Pedialyte on Saturday night,” he explained. So there.
  2. Marquez used performance-enhancing drugs. Quinito Henson, columnist for the Philippine Star, recently wrote about “a disgruntled former member of Juan Manuel Marquez’ team” who “is ready to come out in public and expose the WBC lightweight champion of taking steroids to bulk up for his fight against Manny Pacquiao.” Quinito added that the “source said the ex-member was fired by Marquez, probably for cause, and is out for revenge. He supposedly sneaked into Marquez’ home and took an illegal drug from his refrigerator. The illegal drug is some kind of steroid or performance enhancer.”

For me, it’s actually quite funny that this came out because Pacquiao is no stranger to these kinds of allegations. Manny even sued Floyd Mayweather Jr. because Floyd had repeatedly hinted in the past that Pacquiao has been taking PEDs and that this is the reason why he has been able to move up in weight and still keep his speed and power.

I think this is an unfair allegation against Marquez. Like Floyd’s accusations against Pacquiao, there is no proof that Marquez took steroids.

All these excuses and allegations notwithstanding, I think we should all just be honest and admit to ourselves that Manny Pacquiao really had trouble against Juan Manuel Marquez because Marquez is a damn good boxer and he just gives Pacquiao fits. He has been a thorn in Pacquiao’s side for three fights now, and this won’t change even if both boxers meet in a fourth fight.

Hell, even Pacquiao himself admitted that Marquez gives him trouble because the Mexican is just one tough hombre.

I mean, if Pacquiao could admit that, then perhaps the rest of us should as well.

How now, Pacquiao nuthuggers?

Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Will They Ever Get to Fight Each Other?

(This piece appeared in my now defunct fight blog, Pinoy Fight Scribe, in 2011.)

by Mark Lorenzana

I think the more accurate question is this: with all the shit that has been going on, who the hell should fucking care anymore?

For the longest time, boxing fans have all been clamoring for a fight between these two guys, and for the longest time, we all had to content ourselves with conflicting reports. One day a story says a deal is close to being reached, the next day another story says initial talks have bogged down.

There was a time when Pacquiao nuthuggers were blasting Mayweather for allegedly ducking Pacquiao. Then when Mayweather demanded for an Olympic-style drug test and Pacquiao wouldn’t budge, it was the Mayweather fans’ turn to accuse Pacquiao of not wanting the fight. When Pacquiao finally relented to the stupid drug test, Mayweather didn’t want the fight anymore.

Tired yet? Oh, but all that bullshit gets worse.

Just recently, after Pacquiao struggled against Juan Manuel Marquez in their third bout, Mayweather began making noises again about wanting to fight Pacquiao. People reckoned that perhaps Mayweather saw something in the third Pacquiao-Marquez fight, a chink in the Filipino boxer’s armor that Mayweather thought he could exploit. People were actually feeling genuinely excited and hopeful that a deal would finally be reached. But—you guessed it—no talks happened, no deal was signed, nothing.

Nor would a deal happen even when Pacquiao hinted that he was amenable to getting a smaller piece of the pie just so the fight could push through.

So is anyone really surprised that even though Floyd Mayweather’s jail term has been pushed back to June just so he could fight on May 5, the fight still isn’t happening?

We actually have a rare instance here: both fighters are finally willing to fight each other. Problem is, it seems as though it’s Top Rank’s Bob Arum who doesn’t want the fight to push through. A bigger venue should be built, says Arum. Pacquiao suffered a cut in his last fight against Marquez, and said cut won’t be fully healed on May 5, adds the Top Rank head honcho.

What the fuck? Bullshit.

A fight of this magnitude doesn’t need a bigger venue. Las Vegas has lots of decent-sized ballrooms available, and even if you jack up the price of tickets, you would still get a full house. And with the closed-circuit revenue and PPV buys thrown in, everyone involved will, undoubtedly, be very, very happy money-wise. This is Pacquiao and Mayweather after all, guys who could each pull in significant ticket sales and PPV buys even if they weren’t fighting each other.

But for some strange, mind-boggling, and frustrating reason that he alone knows, Arum wants the fight to be pushed to June, but that won’t be possible because, obviously, Mayweather’s ass is going to be behind bars by that time. (Also, for some strange, mind-boggling, and frustrating reason, Arum has been shoving Miguel Cotto, Tim Bradley, and Lamont Peterson down our throats as possible opponents for Pacquiao.)

There were times when it was Mayweather who should be rightfully blamed; other times, it was Pacquiao who was at fault. After all, both those guys are boxing superstars and they both have huge egos. Now? Blame it all on Arum.

You’d think a sage promoter like Arum would be happy that the two best cash cows in the business are both willing to trade leather once and for all. You’d think Arum would be happy that a fight of this magnitude will  finally be made. You’d think Arum would be happy to make a shitload of money off this fight and that he should get off his lazy eighty-year-old ass and seize the opportunity and start negotiating with the Mayweather people right away.

Right?

Wrong.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who has been feuding with Arum for the longest time, had a mouthful to say: “I think all the media members and fight fans, and so on, have started to get it—because some people still aren’t getting it—that Bob Arum doesn’t want that fight,” Schaefer said. “I don’t know how much more proof people need, or if they’re just drinking Top Rank’s Kool-Aid, or what it is, but it’s apparent to just about anyone by now, hopefully. Those that don’t get it yet, I think you have to wonder.”

But as always in this never-ending saga of tragic proportions, there is a glimmer of hope. According to a recent report from Ronnie Nathanielsz of the Manila Standard, Arum has shown willingness to make the fight and will try to get Las Vegas judge Melissa Saragosa to push Mayweather’s sentence further back so that the fight can be made either late May or early June.

Arum indicated he was ready to go before judge Melissa Saragosa and request that she push back the incarceration date so the fight, which the world wants to see, can take place.

The belief is that the judge, who postponed Mayweather’s incarceration from Jan. 6 to June 1 to allow him to keep his contractual obligations for a May 5 fight, is likely to grant the request.

With that piece of information, it seems that there is indeed some hope yet for the fight to push through. But after all the pile of shit we’ve been fed all this time, it’s best that us boxing fans take all this with heaping tablespoons of salt.

It sucks that instead of being able to enjoy the biggest fight that could be made in boxing right now, fans of the sweet science have to make do with a load of shit and a lot of salt.

Fuck that. We all deserve much, much better.

Pinoy Fight Scribe’s Assorted Wednesday Fight Bullets

by Mark Lorenzana

(This piece appeared in my now defunct fight blog, Pinoy Fight Scribe, in 2011.)

– If you don’t like Frankie Edgar, fair enough. It’s your opinion, anyway. But you’d have to be an idiot not to admire the guy’s heart, will to win, and fighting spirit.  Just like in their first fight, Edgar got tagged early by Gray Maynard’s vicious strikes and was visibly hurt and in trouble. In fact, by the end of the first round, Edgar already appeared to be suffering from a broken nose. So what does the guy do? He sucks it all up, fights on, and knocks out his opponent cold. That’s what he did. That’s what champions do. Not to take away anything from Edgar’s win, though, but he was helped in large part by Maynard’s reluctance to let his hands go. I understand that Maynard wanted to avoid what happened in their last fight where, after putting Edgar on Queer Street, he went all out on his offense and gassed out. But I think Maynard may have been a little too gun-shy from the second round onward until the end of the fight when he got knocked the fuck out, and that proved to be his undoing. Maynard could have ended the fight in the second round if he just pounced on Edgar—fighting aggressively doesn’t mean fighting stupidly, and one can be effective by utilizing controlled aggression and not wasting punches. Anyway, so far, the two fighters have fought each other three times already: the first fight went to Maynard via unanimous decision, the second fight was ruled a draw, and now this recent knockout win by Edgar. So that’s one win apiece, one loss apiece, and one draw apiece. Will there be a rematch? I hope so. All three fights so far have all been barnburners and both guys seem to love kicking each other’s ass.

– Kenny Florian’s title-whoring didn’t pay off as Jose Aldo held on to win by unanimous decision to keep his UFC featherweight title. Florian actually started his career as a middleweight then went down to welterweight, lightweight, and now the recent cut to go down to 145. Worry not, Kenny, there’s still the bantamweight division. You can always cut off an arm and challenge Dominick Cruz for his belt. If that still doesn’t work, cut off the other arm so you can compete at 125, the flyweight division. (You just have to figure out a way to win by just throwing kicks.) Dana White said that the new UFC weight class is expected to debut next year. Good luck, Kenny! After all, if you can’t beat ‘em, go down in weight.

– “Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck,” says Chael Sonnen in the post-fight interview after submitting  Brian Stann. Silva, who was at the arena watching the fights (and who was seated next to a grinning Sir Charles Barkley) just smiled when Sonnen said this. Sonnen wasn’t satisfied, and added, “If I beat you, you leave the middleweight division. If you beat me, I’ll leave the UFC forever.” He then stormed out of the Octagon. Frankly, I can’t wait to see if Sonnen can do the same thing that he did to Silva in their last fight, where he repeatedly overpowered the Brazilian and gave him hell for five rounds before Silva  was able to submit Sonnen late in the fifth round. Sonnen has so far been the toughest opponent that Silva has faced inside the Octagon. Problem is, Sonnen’s excellent performance against Silva may have been tainted by the fact that the post-fight drug tests showed that Sonnen had elevated testosterone levels, possibly because of performance-enhancing drugs. This led to Sonnen’s subsequent suspension, which is why it took him more than a year to step back into the Octagon. I can’t wait for those two to square off again and see if Sonnen will really stick to his word to leave the UFC forever if and when he loses to Silva.

– So here’s the thing: the Donnie Nietes-Ramon Garcia Hirales fight was very close and could have gone either way. I scored it 115-113 for Nietes, giving him rounds one, two, three, four, five, six and eleven. After the sixth round, Nietes started gassing out , and that’s why he wasn’t throwing as much punches as he should have. Nietes said that it might have been the inactivity or that he overtrained or both that caused him to gas out. In any case, there are a lot of people out there that are crying about the Mexican being robbed, and I feel for the guy, of course. He came to enemy territory to defend his title and went home without it. What’s curious to me was that it was only the Filipino judge, Danrex Tapdasan, who had the score most reflective of the fight that transpired: he had it 115-113 Nietes, same as my unofficial scorecards. The two foreign judges, Lisa Giampa and Carlos Ortiz Jr., had it 118-110 and 117-111 respectively. I mean, what fucking fight were those guys watching? Well, that’s boxing for you. I just hope Nietes grants Garcia Hirales a rematch soon to settle the score and they fight, preferably, on neutral territory like the United States. Or better yet, in hostile territory again for Nietes, in Mexico. I also just hope that Donnie gets better conditioning training for his  future fights, so he can be more effective. This actually wasn’t the first fight that he showed signs of gassing out; in the past, he has shown similar conditioning problems. That said, congratulations to the two-division champ, our very own Donnie “Ahas” Nietes. Mabuhay ka, Donnie!

– Just like his ALA stablemate Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista, A. J. “Bazooka” Banal is a favorite target by Internet trolls who park at boxing forums  and find pleasure in bashing Banal and finding fault in his every move. They call him a bum and a loser whenever they have a chance, and they belittle his achievements. Well, I don’t know if they can find fault in A. J.’s performance last Sunday against his Mexican opponent, Mario Briones; but I personally think it was an impressive win  by the Cebuano boxer. He showed improved conditioning, he was sharp on both offense and defense, and he wasn’t in a hurry to knock the guy out—he was focused and stuck to a game plan. As a result, Banal won by a wide unanimous decision and dealt Briones the first loss of his career. Who knows? If Banal continues to improve, maybe he will eventually get that long-awaited rematch against the only fighter who has ever dealt him a loss (and a stoppage loss at that)—Panamanian Rafael Concepcion.

– Rafael Marquez is the younger brother of Juan Manuel Marquez (duh). Note that we use the word younger here relatively—Juan Manuel, at thirty-eight, is actually older than Rafael by two years.  In terms of career, Juan Manuel has also fought  a lot more fights and boxed more rounds than his younger brother, but judging from the latter’s fight against WBC super bantamweight champion Toshiaki Nishioka, it seems that Rafael has logged a lot more mileage than his older brother. Rafael didn’t throw enough punches, and Nishioka was able to hit him at will. When a fighter ages, the first things that he loses are his speed and reflexes. And in the lower weights, losing your speed and reflexes puts you at a very huge disadvantage. Besides, Marquez’s four grueling fights against fellow Mexican Israel Vazquez  took a lot from him. I don’t know if Rafael is contemplating retirement (I think he should be, but then again, I take a look at both Erik Morales and Jorge Arce, and I think twice), but perhaps it would be a good idea for him to sit down and take a look at his long and illustrious career. It was a great run, and if the former champion and future hall of famer decides to hang up his gloves soon, every hardcore boxing fan worth his or her salt should thank Rafael Marquez for the unforgettable fights and, more importantly, for giving so much to this oftentimes unforgiving sport.

Ask the Fight Scribe: Stupid Answers to Nonexistent Readers’ Thoughtless Questions

(This piece appeared in my now defunct fight blog, Pinoy Fight Scribe, in 2012.)

by Mark Lorenzana

When I was a kid, I enjoyed reading my dad’s collection of Mad Magazines, and one of my favorite long-running segments of the humor magazine was the great Al Jaffee’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.” That, along with Gustavo Arellano’s witty and irreverent “Ask a Mexican” column in the OC Weekly as well as Drew Magary’s hilariously profane Funbag in Deadspin, is the inspiration for this blog post, which, I hope, will be the first of many here on Pinoy Fight Scribe.

I’m not claiming that this uninspired and painfully unoriginal blog segment will be witty or hilariously profane (after all, both stupid questions and thoughtless answers are—you guessed it—going to be supplied by yours truly [how fun {or pathetic} is that?]). Instead, I’d like to think of this as a drunken dare gone horribly wrong. (Come to think of it, even after more than two years of its existence, this entire blog feels like a drunken dare gone horribly wrong.)

The first installment of this auto-answer bag will focus on boxing. On to the questions (and answers):

Q: Will Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. eventually fight each other? If the fight happens, who’s your pick?

A: In all honesty, I don’t think the fight will ever happen. Here are just some of the reasons:

  1. Both guys have huge egos. Especially Mayweather.
  2. Mayweather is afraid to tarnish his undeafeated record, and Pacquiao has a very good chance of handing Floyd his first loss.
  3. It appears that Bob Arum is not too keen on making the fight happen.

They may fight, or they may never fight at all, but one thing’s for sure—a lot of boxing fans have grown tired of all the shit that has been flying from both camps. World War III won’t erupt if the fight doesn’t push through, and the fight, if it happens, won’t solve the global food crisis or bring about world peace anyway. So fuck it. Shove this damn fight up all them greedy boxing people’s filthy asses.

If the fight does, by some divine intervention, push through (late this year, for example), I’m going with Pacquiao. If the fight happens much, much later (a few years from now), I’d have to give it to Mayweather. Both fighters aren’t spring chickens anymore, and both have lost a step or two. Pacquiao is an offensive pressure fighter who relies more on his physical talents to win fights, while Mayweather is more defensive minded and tactical. In their primes, Pacquiao’s pressure will be too much for Floyd, and I’m leaning toward a Pacquiao split decision win. Past their primes, I’m leaning toward Mayweather via unanimous decision.

Q: Who is Genaro Garcia?

A: It depends on which Genaro Garcia you’re referring to. There’s Genaro “Panterita” Garcia, a Mexican lightweight boxer who sports a dismal 10-12 win-loss record and whom Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista knocked out inside two rounds early this month. Then there’s  Genaro “Poblanito” Garcia, another Mexican boxer whom Bautista was supposed to be fighting instead of Panterita. This Genaro Garcia sports a better record of 38 wins, 8 losses, with 22 of those wins coming by way of knockout.

Apparently, someone screwed up, and ALA Promotions lost money because of the switcheroo. Now ALA is suing the Mexican agent who screwed up, Hugo Correa, but the latter is denying any wrongdoing and insists that he sent the correct Genaro Garcia to the Philippines.

Anyway, Google the name “Genaro Garcia,” and you’ll find out that there’s a shitload of people around the world with the same name. With a little patience, hard work, and lots of idle time, you’re bound to come across the Genaro Garcia that you’re looking for. Good luck. You’ll need it.

Q: Will Manny Pacquiao really retire after his fight with Timothy Bradley? I don’t know who to believe anymore.

A: Just read the news on a daily basis and decide which story you want to believe in. One day a news report will say that Pacquiao is planning to retire after the Bradley fight so he can focus more on his religious duties; the next day, another news story will say that Pacquiao will fight on until 2013. Just remember, don’t let the conflicting reports get to you. You know what, I change my mind. Do not read the news at all. And avoid the sports section at all costs. Go turn on the TV and watch the Corona impeachment trial or something.

Q: Are Nonito Donaire and Brian Viloria Filipinos?

A: Of course they are. But don’t ask Arnold Clavio. Or maybe you already did, that’s why you’re confused. Else you won’t be asking this extremely stupid question. Next.

Q: Will Pacquiao be a good Bible ambassador for the Catholic church?

A: Let me answer your question with another question: has Pacquiao been a good congressman so far? Wait, come to think of it, yes, maybe he can be a good Bible ambassador. He hates contraceptives, right?

Q: What’s up with Juan Manuel Lopez? Does Orlando Salido have his number?

A: Juanma is an exciting fighter with great power and decent boxing skills. But he also has a porous defense, a suspect chin, and bad ring habits. Juanma can box, no question about that, but when he gets hit, he tends to slug it out with his opponent. That’s what happened in his first fight with Salido, that’s what happened in his second fight with Salido. He also has a problem with Salido’s overhand right, which he can’t seem to avoid hitting his face with. Juanma needs to go back to the drawing board and work on some adjustments in his game, or else he won’t be able to regain his belt.

Q: Aren’t the Klitschko brothers going to fight each other or something? It seems to me that they are holding the major heavyweight belts hostage. What do you think?

A: Of course they aren’t going to fight each other—they’re brothers. Manny Pacquiao won’t fight Bobby, Nonito Donaire won’t fight Glenn, and I won’t ever fight my younger brother inside a boxing ring. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s just wrong. About your other question, I don’t necessarily think that the Klitschkos are taking the belts hostage because they aren’t ducking anyone anyway. They take on all comers. The problem is, they don’t make heavyweights like they used to, so those opponents that get thrown the Klitschko brothers’ way all suck. So what happens is that we get all these awful heavyweight fights that are just a pain to watch. My advice to you: stick to the lower weights so you can enjoy your boxing. Or if you want to watch overweight, out-of-shape big guys trying to beat each other up in slow motion, it’s up to you. This is a free country.

Q: Why are you so damn lazy? Instead of updating this blog almost every day, you barely post four or five entries per month. You should be ashamed.

A: Blogging about boxing and MMA won’t pay my bills or put food on my table or buy me beer. A day job will, that’s why I have one. And that day job requires me to work long hours, which can be mentally taxing. I don’t have all the time and energy to update this blog every day because I need to work. And this is not work, this is a hobby, a labor of love.  So there. Unless you can afford to give me at least a thousand bucks per day so I can focus full time on updating this blog more often, I suggest you shut the fuck up.

OK, that’s it. Schizo post over. Nothing to see here anymore. Till next time, folks.

Pacquiao’s win over Marquez raises more questions than answers

(This piece appeared in InterAKTV in 2011.)

by Mark Lorenzana

“I clearly won the fight.”

It’s hard to tell if Manny Pacquiao said that with real conviction during the postfight interview after another grueling fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. After 36 brutal rounds, the only clear thing is that Pacquiao seems to have found the perfect foil in Marquez. “Marquez has Manny’s number,” Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said after the third fight. Not a lot of people will disagree with that assesment.

The trilogy has, so far, yielded one draw and two wins for Pacquiao. The third bout was supposed to be the most decisive of all three battles, but the outcome only managed to raise more questions than answers.

Did Juan Manuel Marquez hurt Pacquiao?

Does Juan Manuel Marquez, someone who has fought at the welterweight limit only a couple of times in his career, punch harder than full-fledged welterweights like Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto?

When Pacquiao fought Margarito and Cotto, he took both those guys’ best shots, even egging them on to punch him in the body so that he could taste their power. This drew the consternation of Freddie Roach, but it was all good because Pacquiao never really buckled under the onslaught. The Pacquiao against Cotto and Margarito was far more accurate than the one against Marquez because Manny seemed more confident and at ease when he fought those two bigger guys; he let his hands go freely and wasn’t afraid to engage.

Against Marquez, Pacquiao seemed nervous and tentative, he missed a lot, and most of his punches were short and didn’t connect because he wasn’t close enough to hit his target; Pacquiao seemed afraid to engage. Again, does Juan Manuel Marquez punch harder than naturally bigger men like Margarito and Cotto?

What was Pacquiao’s game plan going into the fight?

Freddie Roach said part of the strategy was to avoid Marquez’s right hand. “Manny’s a left-hander and if you’re fighting a right-hander like Marquez, you don’t slide to his right because he’s going to hit you every time,” said Roach. But Pacquiao repeatedly slid right directly into Marquez’s straight hand, and naturally, he got hit every time.

Another plan, according to Roach, was to go to the body early, something that could have slowed the 38-year-old Marquez down. But Pacquiao went to the body sporadically and essentially headhunted most of the fight, with little success.

For some strange reason, Pacquiao deviated from the game plan. Did he do it on purpose, or were there other factors that kept him from doing what he needed to do to win the fight in more convincing fashion?

Did Pacquiao overthink Marquez?

Former heavyweight champion George Foreman, who also worked briefly as a boxing analyst for HBO, always said during broadcasts that a fighter shouldn’t overanalyze his opponent’s style. His advice? Just fight.

In the first two bouts against Marquez, that was what Pacquiao did—he just fought. And because of that he was able to knock down Marquez four times. In those instances, Pacquiao just let his hands go and peppered the Mexican with punches from weird angles. Marquez didn’t know where the punches were coming from, so he eventually got hit with solid shots and went down several times.

Also, Pacquiao has a wider repertoire of punches now, so why didn’t he throw more hooks and uppercuts instead of just throwing spartan 1-2 combinations all night? Before the fight, Evander Holyfield said that all Pacquiao needs to do to win is to be himself. Against Juan Manuel Marquez, does Pacquiao find it hard to be his explosive, unpredictable self?

After three close fights where Pacquiao was very, very lucky to escape with a draw and a couple of close wins, it certainly seems to appear that way.

What should Marquez do for him to win against Pacquiao?

The first couple of fights were very close and could have gone either way, but in the third one Marquez looked to be more in control and landed the more telling blows.

f course the Pacquiao aggression was there as usual, but it was not effective aggression. Against David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, and Sugar Shane Mosley, Pacquiao showed effective aggression; in this fight he seemed lost and out of sync. Perhaps this was the reason why, as Time Magazine’s Gary Andrew Poole said, “No one on press row had Pacquiao winning, and only a few had him stealing a draw.”

Marquez’s “problem” (if we can call it a problem) is that he is a counterpuncher, and a lot have argued that this is precisely why he can’t win in the eyes of the judges—in close fights, judges tend to favor (fairly or unfairly, you be the judge) the more aggressive fighter even if the more defensive fighter lands the cleaner shots. What’s ironic in this case is that it’s precisely this counterpunching style that has made Marquez very difficult to solve for Pacquiao.

Needless to say, if Marquez employed a more aggressive style against the Filipino, he would be playing right into Pacquiao’s hands and would be deposited in the canvas in no time. In this case, Marquez finds himself in a quandary: fight smart and lose in the eyes of the judges or fight aggressively and get knocked out.

It’s a no-win situation for him, and you can’t help but feel sorry for the guy and all the hard work he always puts in. This is a painful case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” for Juan Manuel Marquez.

Is Pacquiao slowing down?

Was Pacquiao’s less-than-stellar performance a sign that he is finally slowing down and that his skills are eroding, or is it just purely because of Marquez’s style, a style that has given Pacquiao fits for three fights now? Pacquiao has supposedly suffered cramps again, which may be a sign that his body is not what it used to be. At 32, Pacquiao is not exactly a spring chicken, and there are a lot of fighters (especially offensive pressure fighters) who have appeared to age overnight. The next fight against another opponent (preferably one who will take the fight to Pacquiao) will, hopefully, answer that question.

Will there be a fourth fight?

Yes, perhaps. That is, if Pacquiao is still up to it.

JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ JR.: THE LEGEND THAT SHOULDN’T BE

Chavez(This piece appeared in FightHype on June 30, 2010)

by Mark Lorenzana

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., like his father once was, is a boxer. At the young age of 24, Chavez Jr. has already fought a total of 43 fights. He has an impressive ring record of 41 wins, 30 knockouts, zero losses with one draw and one no contest. He has had little amateur background; he fought a total of three amateur fights before deciding to turn pro in September 26, 2003 at age 17. Chavez Jr. won his professional debut, which was fought at super featherweight, by decision against one Jonathan Hernandez.

In 2004, Chavez Jr. fought 11 times, fighting at least once a month except in August of that year. He won all 11 fights, knocking out eight of his opponents and out pointing three. In 2005, his 19-fight winning streak came to a halt when he salvaged a draw against fellow countryman Carlos Molina. After that fight, he once again racked up 17 straight wins before a win over American Troy Rowland was downgraded to a no contest.

Despite his stellar and unblemished record so far, there is no dearth of critics who seem hell bent on making life miserable for the younger Chavez. Some say his impressive record has been padded, that he has been fed a steady supply of club fighters in the course of his career, that he is a spoiled fighter. In his first fight against Matt Vanda, Chavez barely held on for a split decision win to keep his unbeaten record intact. Not a few pundits believed that he won a gift decision. His father, Chavez Sr., insists that his son fought sick in that particular fight and must be given the benefit of the doubt. “I don’t like excuses,” Chavez Sr. said, talking to TV Azteca in a post-fight interview. “But my son made a super-human effort, he fought sick and wanted to cancel the fight. The doctor gave him a shot because he had a fever after the weigh-in.”

Chavez Jr., for his part, didn’t blame any illness for his poor showing. “The people wanted me to score a knockout, but I could not,” Chavez Jr. said after the fight. “The people are very, very discontented with the result, and what can I tell you? What can I tell you as a fighter? Everything is just very sad. Because of the fight, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I will do. I need to think about it real hard. I am considering retirement.”

Chavez Jr. did not retire and instead fought Vanda in a rematch, a fight that the former won, and won convincingly. Yet in the run up to the fight against Irish middleweight contender John Duddy several days ago, a lot of experts predicted Chavez Jr. to lose by knockout. A rejuvenated Chavez Jr., with four-time trainer of the year Freddie Roach at the helm, beat Duddy via unanimous decision to earn the vacant WBC Silver middleweight title. In that fight, Chavez Jr. did not gas out in the championship rounds and showed remarkable poise and a huge heart against the dangerous and courageous Duddy.

Despite the hard-fought win, don’t expect the critics to lay off of the younger Chavez.

Chavez Jr.’s greatest challenge does not in fact come in the form of a gloved warrior like himself, standing in the corner of the ring opposite him. His greatest challenge, quite ironically, is trying to deal with the lofty but somewhat unrealistic expectations of people who see in him the second coming of his father.

“La leyenda continua,” the ring announcer blurts out every time Chavez Jr. is introduced in a fight. “The legend continues.”

Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. is in fact, a legend. He retired at age 43 holding a ring record of 107 wins with 86 knockouts, six losses, and two draws. He is one of the greatest fighters of all time. He has won six world titles in three weight divisions: WBC Super Featherweight (1984), WBA Lightweight (1987), WBC Lightweight (1988), WBC Super Lightweight (1989), IBF Light Welterweight (1990), and WBC Super Lightweight (1994). Chavez Sr. also won the Ring Lightweight title in 1988. A list of world champions that Chavez Sr. defeated include Jose Luis Ramírez, Rafael Limón, Rocky Lockridge, Meldrick Taylor, Roger Mayweather, Lonnie Smith, Sammy Fuentes, Héctor “Macho” Camacho, Juan Laporte, Edwin Rosario, Greg Haugen, Tony López, Giovanni Parisi, Joey Gamache, and Frankie Randall.

Chavez Sr. also holds records for most title fights (37), most successful consecutive defenses of most title-fight victories (31), most world titles (27) and most title defenses won by knockout (21). He also holds the longest undefeated streak in boxing history, which is 13 years. The Ring Magazine ranks Chavez Sr. as the 18th greatest fighter of the last 80 years. He was also ranked #50 on Ring Magazine’s list of “100 greatest punchers of all time”. He ranks #24 on ESPN’s 50 Greatest Boxers Of All Time.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., like his father once was, is a boxer. And the comparisons, to be fair for both father and son, should end right there.

Floyd is an “exciting” talker, but needs to be a more exciting fighter

Floyd_Baldomir(This piece appeared in 8CountNews on July 22, 2009)

by Mark Lorenzana

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is known for his tactical, defensive style when he fights. He might not be a crowd pleaser in the mold of the late Arturo Gatti or current pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, but you have to give credit where credit is due. The guy is one of the true master practitioners of the Sweet Science.

However, in contrast to his subdued and safety-first attitude inside the ring is his brash, offensive, and loud nature outside of it. Mayweather. is most especially adept at trash talking, and one would be hard put to distinguish between pure theatrics for the purposes of fight promotion and real insulting behavior.

Take Mayweather ‘s latest comment for instance, from a recent Cagewriter report: “In boxing, we know who’s dominating. Black fighters and Hispanic fighters is dominating in this sport. And this is not a racial statement but there’s no white fighters in boxing that’s dominating, so they had to go to something else and start something new.”

Let’s take a look at the current champions in several weight divisions to see if there is any truth to Mayweather’s claim.

In the heavweight division, Ruslan Chagaev and Nikolay Valuev currently share the WBA heavyweight title. Wladimir Klitschko currently holds the IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring Magazine world heavyweight titles. His elder brother, Vitali Klitschko, is the current WBC world heavyweight champion. All four are white. Going down to cruiserweight, we have a couple of white fighters, Tomasz Adamek, the IBF titleholder, as well as Giacobbe Fragomeni, the WBC champion. Over at super middleweight, we have a trio of white boxers, namely WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler, WBC super middleweight titlist Carl Froch, and IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute. Felix Sturm and Kelly Pavlik, both white, hold most of the alphabet belts at middleweight. Vyacheslav Senchenko is the current WBA welterweight champion. And, you guessed it, he is white as well.

I’d like to go on and on but I guess I’ve already made my point. Those are already 12 Caucasian boxing champions that I mentioned. So, needless to say, Mayweather’s latest comment about black guys “dominating” boxing is really baseless. Remember, this is the same guy who criticized HBO and their broadcast team in an interview with Grand Rapids Press’ David Mayo last year.

“Even a guy like Jim Lampley, he praises Kelly Pavlik — who has won some good fights, he beat Jermain Taylor twice, we have to give him credit for that — but they talk about Kelly Pavlik, a white fighter, like he’s the second coming or they go crazy over Manny Pacquiao. But I’m a black fighter,” Mayweather. said.

“Is it racial? Absolutely. They praise white fighters, they praise Hispanic fighters, whatever. But black fighters, they never praise. I’ve noticed it for a long time but I couldn’t say anything because I had to do business with them. I’ll still do business with them, but I’m done holding my tongue.”

The HBO team did not praise Pavlik because he is white. They commended him for his fan-friendly fighting style. The HBO people go gaga over Pacquiao not because he is Filipino, but because he fights like there’s no tomorrow. HBO aired an Arturo Gatti tribute not because he was white, and fight fans mourn Gatti’s loss because he was the consummate blood and guts warrior, because of his fights with Micky Ward, and because he ignored pain and physical injury, leaving everything in the ring.

Truth is, maybe Mayweather is just unpopular with boxing fans, especially the casual boxing fans, because he isn’t that exciting to watch.

Ouch.

The truth hurts, but hey, it’s the truth. Mayweather can’t fault the fans if they don’t find him exciting enough. So, as you see, this is not an issue of race at all.

I cover both the MMA and boxing beat for this website and I don’t see a problem at all with both sports coexisting. The last thing we need is negative comments that could fuel hatred and bigotry.

One of my favorite fighters in MMA today is Anderson “The Spider” Silva. He is black. But I wouldn’t have cared any less if he were of another skin color. I really don’t care. I like Silva and respect him irrespective of his race. I follow his fights because I enjoy watching them.

I wish I could say the same thing for Mayweather. I wish I could say that I really enjoy watching his fights.

But then I remember his fight against Carlos Baldomir where a lot of fans left the stadium out of boredom long before the final bell rang.

I hope Mayweather does something soon, before it’s too late. I’m sure he wants to be remembered more as an exciting fighter rather than an “exciting” (with emphasis on the quotation marks) talker.

The Same Old Ricky Hatton

Pacquiao_Hatton(This piece appeared in 8CountNews on May 5, 2009)

by Mark Lorenzana

When the left hand that smashed into Ricky Hatton’s jaw finally took out the Hitman and left him in a heap, it wasn’t surprising to see the reactions of the people in the stadium – both Pacquiao and Hatton fans alike. It was a picture of awe, disbelief, and horror, all rolled into one.

Awe and disbelief, because not a lot of people expected Pacquiao to dispose of the supposedly bigger and stronger fighter in such devastating fashion, and in as early as the second round. Horror, because you had to fear for Hatton’s safety as he lay down on the canvas in the center of the ring in a semi-conscious state. I have to add that it was a good thing to see Hatton being able to walk out of the ring on his own.

What surprised me, however, are a couple of things.

First, Pacquiao’s vastly improving boxing skills. It wasn’t a stretch when Freddie Roach stated in the post-fight interview that Pacquiao’s right hand is now much better than his left. It showed in the course of the short fight, where Hatton was repeatedly tagged by right jabs and hooks. In fact, it was a cannonball right hook that knocked down the unsuspecting Hatton for the first time in the fight.

Also, who would have thought that Pacquiao could still pack one-punch knockout power in his fists despite having debuted at 106 pounds?

Pacquiao also showed that now, he isn’t a fighter who relies on offense alone. Hatton soon found out that what stood in front of him was an elusive and fleet-footed gazelle, a far cry from his previous opponents who were stationary targets and who were suckers to his brawling, mauling style and body punches. Pacquiao repeatedly bobbed and weaved, even while dishing out punches of his own. In other words, Hatton didn’t know what to do. He was overwhelmed by a multi-talented pugilist who was once thought as a one-dimensional, left-handed slugger.

Second, I would have thought that Hatton would showcase some of his new-found boxing skills under the tutelage of the self-proclaimed best trainer in the world, Floyd Mayweather Sr. But Hatton didn’t show anything new. He had no head movement, he had no lateral movement. He barreled straight into Pacquiao, hoping to land a power punch that would end the fight. In other words, it was the same old Ricky Hatton. And against Pacquiao, it was recipe for disaster.

To be the best fighter in the world, you have to leave it all in the ring. You just can’t claim that you are one of the best and leave it at that, hoping that people would gobble everything up, hook, line, and sinker.

Needless to say, Pacquiao did his job, and it was a masterful performance at that. He showed without doubt that he is the best pound-for-pound boxer today.

To be the best trainer in the world, you have to command respect. Respect will enable you to sculpt a raw talent and polish him or her into a flawless gem. Freddie Roach is one of the most respectable trainers the boxing world has ever seen, and he has helped make Pacquiao the fighting machine that he is now.

No amount of trash talking, faux poetry and fake posturing will make you the best trainer in the world. You just can’t claim that you are one of the best and leave it at that, hoping that people would gobble everything up, hook, line, and sinker.

It should be a lot more than that.

And that ain’t no joke.