Eric W. (Dallas, TX): I was pretty shocked at the Pacquiao victory last Saturday night. What were your thoughts about his performance?
Vivek W. (ESB): I can’t say the same! Although I thought a combination between Pacquiao’s layoff and age would render him less effective, I think the biggest surprise to me was how ineffective Matthysse was. It’s hard to gauge whether that was all Pacquaio, or all Matthysse. But I’ll explain why we should give Pacquiao the credit regardless. Everyone says “Matthysse was “shot” a few fights ago and “hasn’t looked the same in a while now”. While I agree with that in theory, how do we overlook the fact that he’s 35 and standing across from a man who has been in the sport for nearly a quarter century (23yrs), is 39 years old, and has 69 professional fights in a tenure that spans back to 1995?
I can totally understand the angle of those who feel that way, but no one in the sport has a reason to use “baggage” or “wear and tear” as a clutch as much as Manny Pacquiao. But we’ve never seen him go there. Many watched the Jeff Horn fight and used the (highly) controversial results as a reason to cast him out of the Welterweight mix. Even in that situation, there was clearly more than meets the eye. Going into that bout I jokingly said Arum/Pacquiao should be have coined the promotional banner “Against All Odds”. From the moment that bout was signed it’s like the bets were hedged, as Pacquiao had everything stacked against him. He was in the opponents homeland, it was a very unorthodox opponent, and he was at a disadvantage in nearly every major physical attribute with the exception of speed.
He dropped the decision, but he took some very good shots and still weathered the storm with a very good performance considering the awkward opponent across from him. Time and time again, Pacquiao has proven that he is not only great, but an all-time great. I was down on him a bit years ago, as I couldn’t understand why a fighter of his magnitude would decline full drug testing, but that saga aside, Pacquiao is arguably the most decorated (and perhaps even dominant) talent the sport has seen. To think that he has stepped in the ring with the likes of Cotto, Marquez, Mosley, Mayweather, Oscar, Morales, and Margarito, and still has something to offer the sport is nothing short of spectacular. If this is a guy who’s “only fighting for the money”, I think a few others out there need to start!
Carlos N. (Covina, CA): I thought Manny Pacquiao looked very good against Matthysse and I couldn’t help but wonder if he reached his ceiling with Freddie Roach. Can you chime in on your thoughts about this possibility?
Vivek W. (ESB): To be very candid, it’s a theory I was never really open to until seeing this fight evolve. Freddie Roach is a guy I’ve always had immense respect for and my thoughts on this won’t change that. But truthfully, I think that possibility does in fact exist. Freddie Roach was excellent at getting Pacquiao prepared for his fights and he always seemed to know the right set of words to get Pacquiao back into focus. All that said, they had a very long run and I think the evolution of them as a tandem probably did max out.
An immediate observation of mine with Pacquaio in this bout was the fact that they appeared to adjust during the fight to several things, and for the first time ever, it appeared that he was actually playing “chess”, and not going through the motions playing the same ole game of “checkers”. It isn’t to say Roach couldn’t have devised a more effective plan. It’s simply a note taken of what he was able to accomplish with Buboy. There were three things they did that I felt were absolutely brilliant, and they all were a product of good film study, as they were specific to Lucas Matthysse’s tendencies.
One was the decision to shoot the overhand right over the left jab, which Pacquiao did to perfection. Then there was the uppercut, which he used to perfection all night long. The other thing was a more defensive disposition as he alternated angles and kept his mitts up, followed by a consistent jab and a well assorted punch group selection. Body, head, combo, body, head! He fought a thinking man’s fight, and when Buboy told him to stop countering and lead, within a short time, we were yelling TIMBER!!! I was very pleased with what we saw. I won’t say he was better because of Freddie. But I will say he was better without Freddie. So take from that whatever you may.
Denson G. (London, UK): The Vasily Lomachenko fight is the best fight to be made for he and Pacquiao. How do you see that one playing out if they actually do it?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think it’s going to all come down to the weight. I didn’t think Loma looked his best at 140lbs, and what we’ve seen is that he has looked more “ordinary” the better his competition has gotten. If they can somehow convince Pacquiao to drop down to 135lbs, which we haven’t seen since June of 2008 (David Diaz), I think Lomachenko would be at a major advantage. Pacquiao has stated that he “would have no problem getting down to that weight”, but that’s the same thing Oscar De la Hoya said when he faced Pacquiao, and we all remember how that turned out! On paper, I think the youth and attributes all work in Lomachenko’s favor. But as the NBA’s Pat Riley reminded us many times in the past….PAPER BURNS!
While Lomachenko would be the more youthful, energetic opponent, Pacquiao still has the power to hurt him, the speed to catch him, the chin to withstand him, and the experience to fool him! So much has been made about Lomachanko’s amateur career, but at the highest level, you can put that in your pocket for later! It simply doesn’t matter! 462 pro rounds against Hall of Fame type competition could be disastrous for Lomachenko, and there’s no way to overcome that once the bell sound. Oddly enough, there are many similarities between the two, in the sense that both have traditionally been volume punchers who throw punches in bunches using angles and traps. The key difference between the two is that Pacquiao’s power has staggered and dropped men who walk around at 170lbs.
While Loma has some power, his power isn’t what I would personally consider “threatening” against a man proven amongst some of the biggest punchers the sport has seen below 154lbs. Cotto, Margarito, Mayweather, Mosley….Marquez! Those guys hit Pacquiao with everything but the kitchen sink, yet only one of them knocked him down and eventually out. Loma doesn’t have the type power to keep Pac off him, and that’s where his struggles in that fight come in my humble opinion. Remember, Loma was headed from a Draw or potential loss before the Linares fight was stopped (both fighters had the lead on 1 card and the third was a Draw). Pacquiao in the same situation goes on to win that bout. He has the chin to outlast him, the speed to catch him, the power to hurt him, and the pedigree to out think him. Just my thoughts!
(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be reached at 954.770.9807. You can also find his weekly Mailbag on Monday’s every week, or daily fight threads on FaceBook).