18.11.03 - By Walter Donovan: Manny Pacquiao’s brilliant performance in dethroning Marco Antonio Barrera of his linear featherweight title has fans clamoring to know what’s next for the exciting new star. But before that can be addressed, his strengths and weaknesses must be expounded.

Strengths: youth, conditioning, speed, power, poise

Barrera, now 30, stated the 24-year-old Pacquiao reminded him of his younger self, and the vanquished former champ couldn’t have been more correct. Manny displayed a frightening work-rate, much of which can be attributed to his youth and conditioning. Trainer Freddie Roach said “Pac Man” trained very hard, and it showed, as Pacquiao threw between 80 and 100 punches in most of the eleven rounds of action.

The speed and power with which he delivered his right hooks to the body and straight lefts to the head were prodigious. Pacquiao bore much of the same devastation on Barrera as he did on Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, punishing the South African en route to a sixth round stoppage in annexing the IBF junior featherweight title in June 2001. Pacquiao may tip the scales as a featherweight, but he packs a welterweight punch.

Most of all, Pacquiao showed the aplomb of an experienced professional, a necessary attribute in competing with the featherweight pantheon.

Weaknesses: Questionable chin, reaches in with punches, trouble with rough and slick boxers.

A little known fact is Manny Pacquiao is a former WBC flyweight champion. After one successful defense, “The Destroyer” was himself destroyed by Thailand’s Medgoen Singsurat via third-round knockout in September 1999. In all fairness, Pacquiao lost his WBC title on the scale prior to the bout, indicating an immense struggle to make weight. The loss could’ve been an aberration. Then again, maybe it wasn’t.

In March of this year, Pacquiao was floored by novice Serikzhan Yeshmangbetov (4-4-1 entering the bout) in a non-title featherweight clash before rallying back to stop his brave opponent in the fifth round. That Pacquiao could incur such a scare from a relative neophyte raises questions about his chin. He took some solid shots from Barrera, but the latter looked stale and lacked the usual snap of his punches, which was noticeable as early as the second round.

And on many occasions against Barrera, Pacquiao overextended while throwing his straight left, ominously leaving himself open for a counter hook. It’s easy to envision either Erik Morales or Juan Manuel Marquez exploiting such a weakness. For whatever reason, Barrera could not.

But arousing the most concern is Pacquiao’s apparent ineptitude in handling a rough boxer-puncher. Witness his technical draw against Agapito Sanchez in November 2001. Manny couldn’t control the fight, letting Sanchez unnerve him with head-butts and low-blows. The bout was stopped after six rounds due to cuts sustained by Pacquiao, and both he and Sanchez retained their respective titles.


There are many intriguing options for “The Destroyer,” the obvious one being a battle with WBA/IBF featherweight king Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez has never faced anyone like Pacquiao, and with the exception of Barrera, Pacquiao has never tossed hands with anyone nearly as good as Marquez. It’s a natural match-up, and one that’s desperately needed to inject much-needed excitement into boxing’s languid image.

Until then, we may have to tolerate Pacquiao dropping back down to junior featherweight to make mandatory defenses of his IBF title against non-descript opposition. Slightly more interesting would be a bout with light-punching Paulie Ayala. Erik Morales would be a great opponent, but he’s headed towards a super featherweight title clash with WBC champ Jesus Chavez. Juan Manuel Marquez seems the logical choice at this point.

Regardless of which path Pacquiao travels, us fans will enjoy the sheer thrill of watching him fight. So hold on and brace yourself; it should be one helluva ride.

Article posted on 18.11.2003

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