The end of an era?

by Ben Hoskin: This afternoon whilst watching events live from Las Vegas (New Zealand time), I believe we may well have seen the finale of one of the most remarkable boxers to grace the sport. The Pac-man has finally succumbed to father time and tasted defeat for the first time since 2005. My personal take on the fight was he'd actually won. He started off very slowly and tanked the first three stanzas but was pretty dominant from rounds four till nine, rocking Bradley on several occasions. Round ten was pivotal as Manny totally switched off and allowed his opponent a "freebie" which gave Bradley renewed hope after it seemed to me his resolve was nearly gone in the middle rounds. Rounds eleven and twelve were hard to score and i'd score them even. My scorecard read six rounds to four with two even for the Pac-man..

My reasoning for Manny's time at an end is several fold. His preparations for his fights have began to resemble a circus. Its well documented his new direction in life with the cutting out of booze and gambling, which especially with the alcohol aspect is surely a prerequisite for top level athletes and should have been out of his life from his career beginning! Boxing is no longer his sole focus which must surely affect his dedication to training? The friction within camp with Freddie and Ariza also has a part to play in all this. everyone needs to be singing from the same hymn book, with two vital members of his corner at loggerheads, Manny can't possibly be able to concentrate 100% on training?

The farce before the fight had even started was also of concern to me. Bradley was gloved and ready yet Manny was apparently watching a basketball game and had to get on a cardio machine to get his suspect calves properly warmed up! Is it just me or is this totally unprofessional and almost disrespectful of the task he was about to face? I cannot speak for how the dynamic is within camp, but I suspect Roach wouldn't have been best pleased with this. The fight game is all about solely concentrating on your opponent and how you're going to approach, break down and finally vanquish them. Watching a game of basketball before won't get you in the zone! Manny's slow start can be directly attributed to his poor pre-fight routine.

As for the action within the squared circle, several salient points should be noted. This writer still feels the judges got it wrong but it was close enough to understand their scoring. It wasn't a total travesty as some questionable fights have been scored previously. It should also be noted that things have a way of evening themselves out and Manny was judged favorably in his last Marquez bout in my opinion. My real concern for Manny was his inability to get his man out of there with a stoppage. The pac-man of old and I'm talking about the version who fought Barrera, Morales et al would have been a human buzz saw and overwhelmed Bradley. Tim deserves tremendous credit for his conditioning and dedication to this fight. I felt he came out of the 24/7 HBO show in a great light. A great family man and a wonderful ambassador for this greatest of sports but the upset wasn't on the cards surely? Remember, Bradley is a guy smaller than him who brought the playing field back to the Fillipino with his size, not the bigger men he has been accustomed to squaring off with the last four years. Bradley was ready to go and I believe his saving grace was a strong showing from his corner who continually roused him in the middle rounds when the heat was on. Manny's corner was confusing as there seemed to be two voices giving instructions, Roach would muster a few words and Buoboy would translate or give his own take. After taking his foot of the gas in there tenth, Freddie should have vociferously informed him to up the work rate and get back to his solid work in the middle rounds. Has Freddie's influence diminished in camp or has his ailment prevented him mentoring his star pupil?

So where to now for Manny? Sure, he can take his agreed rematch clause and have a great camp, pre-fight routine and avenge his loss. However is the hunger really there to do so? Mayweather was always the target and this setback has put the "kibosh" on that event now. He has proved himself a twice in a generation fighter (Mayweather included) and his legacy is there for future fans to marvel at. His non stop action for every second of every round is behind him now so there is no need to tarnish his fantastic career with potentially damaging losses to fighters not really fit to be matched with him. The king is dead, long live the king!

Article posted on 10.06.2012

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