There have been a number of big boxing upsets this year (and, if the betting wishes of the high rollers are to come true, there will be another one witnessed this Saturday night in Las Vegas) but to many, the respective losses Manny Pacquiao and Roman Gonzalez suffered rank as the biggest shocks of 2017.
As fans know, Gonzalez, when closing in on Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 ledger, fell foul of teak-tough Thai fighter Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (AKA Wisaksil Wangek) in March, the Nicaraguan losing his super-flyweight crown. While in July, Pacquiao lost his welterweight title to big Australian outsider Jeff Horn in another stunning decision.
Now the two stars are headed for what they hope, or are convinced, will be revenge. Gonzalez, 46-1(38) will face southpaw Rungvisai, 43-4-1(39) (or Wangek) again on September 9, while Pac Man, 59-7-2(38) is set to face the 17-0-1(11) Horn again, in Australia, probably on November 12. The question is, which former champ will be able to gain revenge – or will neither fighter be able to do so?
Unlike Pacquiao, Gonzalez at age 30 is no ageing fighter. But also unlike Pac Man, “Chocolatito” is giving away a good deal of weight and natural size against his rival. Pacquiao, though no huge welterweight, has settled into the division. Gonzalez on the other hand, has fought just twice at super-flyweight; winning one fight there and losing the other. Before the defeat at the hands of Rungvisai, Gonzalez had won largely without issue down at light-fly and flyweight.
Is the still relatively new weight class too much for Gonzalez? Along with the sheer toughness and the power and strength of Rungvisai, this factor may see Gonzalez lose to the same man twice. We will soon see.
As for Pacquiao, though he will turn 39 in December, he will likely enter the Horn rematch as the betting favourite (so will Gonzalez in his return bout, come to that). Most fans – those that actually agree with the decision loss that went against him – feel Manny’s loss was a mere fluke. But the undefeated Horn is hugely motivated to prove his summer win was nothing like a one-off. It could just be that we could see two great, and very competitive, rematches towards the end of the year.
Can both Gonzalez and Pacquiao get revenge, or will Rungvisai and Horn prove lightning can indeed strike twice?