All Hail King Pacquiao!

Manny PacquiaoBy Geoffrey Ciani: Even before Floyd Mayweather Junior recently announced he was ‘retiring’ from boxing, an argument could be made that Manny Pacquiao was the true pound-for-pound king. After all, in seven contests against a trio of Mexican legends (Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez), Pacquiao emerged with an amazing five victories, a draw, and just a single defeat. That, in itself, made Pacquiao a legitimate part of the discussion pertaining to who reigned supreme amongst boxing’s elite.

When Mayweather announced his ‘retirement’, Pacquiao was the logical heir to the pound-for-pound throne. Of course, a small faction of Calzaghe faithful may have respectfully disagreed, but by and large, the coronation of King Pacquiao was nearly unanimous amongst objective observers throughout the boxing community. As fate would have it, Pacquiao was afforded an opportunity to prove his worth when he made his 135 pound debut against WBC lightweight champion David Diaz.

Diaz is a tough and determined pugilist who always comes to fight, and he lived up to his reputation as such on Saturday night. Unfortunately for Diaz, he was pitted against a one-man wrecking machine. Pacquiao looked absolutely sensational! From the onset, Pac Man began working at an absolutely fiendish pace, throwing an assortment of punches with precision, speed, and power. Although Diaz certainly appeared to be the stronger of the two physically, the sheer speed and torque of Pacquiao’s punches made it quickly apparent that he was the more powerful puncher.

By the fourth round, the fight quickly turned into target practice for Pacquiao, and by the seventh, it became abundantly clear that Diaz was entirely out of his league as the bout became progressively less competitive. The fact that Pac Man looked so sensational against a champion in his lightweight debut is an absolute marvel. Indeed, he looked better than ever, appearing even quicker and more powerful than he had in any of his previous contests. In the ninth stanza, Pacquiao unleashed a right hook followed by a short left hand which finally closed the show as Diaz came crashing down face-first onto the canvas with a booming thud.

If there was any doubt as to who was Mayweather’s successor atop the pound-for-pound charts, Pacquiao put an end to such uncertainties beyond any shadow of a doubt. In fact, even if Floyd had not retired, Pacquiao put forth the type of awe-inspiring performance that may well have catapulted him into the top spot, regardless. It is not so much his performance against Diaz that was so impressive, as is the accumulation of his entire career, wherein, the more time passes the more sensational Pacquiao seems to become.

If ever there was a fighter who personified the ultimate crowd-pleasing style, it has to be Manny Pacquiao. The man simply loves to fight and engage his opponent. He almost invariably seems to be going forward and always appears to be on the attack. Combined with blinding speed and utterly freakish power, Pac Man represents a fight fan’s dream.

What’s next? Two names were mentioned in the post-fight interview: A third match-up with Juan Manuel Marquez, or a bout against junior welterweight Ricky Hatton. I admit, prior to his bout with Diaz, my instincts told me that Pacquiao is too small for Hatton, and this might still be the case. However, after seeing Pacquiao’s utter destruction of Diaz, I find the prospects of a bout between him and Hatton more intriguing than ever before. Given the choice, I would in fact prefer seeing a showdown between Pacquiao and Hatton, although, a third contest between Pacquiao and Marquez would certainly be welcome, too.

Whatever happens, I eagerly await Pacquiao’s next bout. When one considers how he has fared against all-time greats like Barrera, Morales, and Marquez, and when one considers the ease at which he annihilated Diaz, I am left wondering how long before we start asking whether or not Pacquiao is the best fighter of a generation. Ever since I started watching boxing in the late 80s, I cannot think of too many fighters I would be apt to rank ahead of him, and the more time passes, the shorter that list becomes. Whether or not he is, and whether or not such topics are premature, is certainly a matter of debate. However, when it comes to who reigns supreme amongst the best in the sport, that debate is now closed.

All hail King Pacquiao!

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Article posted on 01.07.2008

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