Pacquiao’s Next Big Step Will Have to be Down

By Earl Blaney As far as speed goes (Pacquiao’s biggest asset fighting as a welterweight) there is no one in the division to compare him with other than perhaps the undisciplined Zab Judah. Judah’s speed more than challenged Mayweather for a full 12 rounds but careless discipline problems in his technique and antics cost him the fight..

Manny PacquiaoSimilarly, Judah’s speed outclassed the great Kostya Tsyu for a full two rounds in 2006 before his lack of defensive discipline cost him the fight due to two big right hands. But therein lies the problem with the comparison. Pacquiao’s great maturity in defensive and offensive discipline especially noticeable in his last two fights (Diaz-ODLH) disallows Judah’s performance against Mayweather, Tsyu (or others) to be examined as a source of would be future insight.

Hatton and (and an aging but still fierce) Kostya Tzu were evenly matched in speed for 11 of the most vicious rounds I have ever witnessed in boxing. During the entire fight Hatton not only showed he could handle the punches of one of Ring Magazines “Greatest Punchers of All Time”, but in fact charged him head on for the entire fight.

As we all know Maywheather dominated Hatton last summer (2007)(in a way that he wasn’t able to dominate ODLH), and finished him in the tenth. Hatton’s no quit attitude in that fight (despite a badly damaged eye) gained him much respect and attention from Mayweather despite the stoppage.

In Manny’s last two fights he has been careful and should not be criticized for it , but against Mayweather and Hatton in particular who are both extremely busy fighters his patience will be tested as will his chin. Although I am a huge fan and greatly admire Freddie Roach’s development of Pacquiao I think the biggest factor that will lead to the Philippino’s downfall in either the Mayweather fight or the Hatton fight (and it’s likely to be Mayweather) is going to be the lack of competitive test Manny has faced in his last two big fights in the higher weight divisions. Ironically it has been Roach’s stress on defensive discipline and Manny’s maturing as an offensive tactician that have made those two fights so lopsided that they offered him very little opportunity to develop his competitive edge.

A look at the recent competition the respective fighters have faced shows the clear details of the insurmountable disadvantage Pacquiao faces.

Of Mayweather’s last six fights four have been big name, well established fighters at the welterweight level (67.7 kg) or above…Ricky Hatton (TKO 10), ODLH (Split decision), Judah (Unam. Decision), and Arturo Gatti (TKO 6).

Of Hatton’s recent competition at Light welterweight (63.4 kg) or more his resume includes Mayweather (L) , Jose Luis Castillo (KO 4)and Kostya Tzu (TKO 11)and more total rounds in this weight division than any other active fighter.

Pacquiao’s fights against Barrera (TKO 11/ UD) , Morales (L/ UD/ KO) and Marquez (D/SD) were epic , but they all came at Junior Lightweight (59 kg). and by the time either fight is scheduled, the last (Marquez) will have been almost two years ago. In boxing that is forever.

A sudden taste of the raw competition that either Hatton or Mayweather will offer Pacquiao at the higher weight division will cost Manny either fight I am sad to say. Unfortunately, that is the next big step Pacquioa has to take, but the lessons learned will offer his career the opportunity to truly succeed; which he most certainly will.

Article posted on 14.12.2008

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