by Robert Jackson: Manny Pacquiao’s devastating loss to long time rival Juan Manuel Marquez, came as a shock to many the world over. But it wasn’t that he lost, it was how he lost, and that he was put to sleep with one second remaining in the round. Manny could have patiently stalked Marquez at the end of that round then let the round end and re-engage in the next round. Fighters throughout the history of boxing have been very careful during the last seconds of a round to avoid the very same thing that happened to Manny Pacquiao this past Saturday night.
Oscar De La Hoya disengaged during the last seconds of a round to prevent a KO and his opponent from stealing the round. Sugar Ray Leonard during the Marvin Hagler fight used the last 30 seconds of each round to come on strong so he COULD steal rounds from Marvelous Marvin…and it worked.
In both cases these tactics were worked out during training camp and implemented during the fights. Sugar Ray Leonard’s cornermen would shout out “30 seconds”, to prompt Leonard to begin his assault. With this in mind I now return to last Saturday night –round 6, where with seconds remaining in the round, Pacquiao engaged with Marquez who he had backed into a corner, attacking sloppily without having his hands in a defensive position or his chin tucked. Marquez countered the lazy right jab that Pacman threw with a right of his own which Pacquiao walked right in to…and the fat lady was singing.
Manny is and always will be a fighter, one that will always go out on his shield…but in this case with mere seconds remaining in a round where Marquez was hurt badly, Manny probably could’ve waited until the next round to continue dishing out what he was dishing out. Patience is a virtue.
Other than physical training which involves bagwork, roadwork and the rest of a fighters regimen overseen by his boxing Coach, tactics and a solid gameplan are implemented by that same trainer to offset the strengths of his fighters opponent putting him in the best position to win. Freddie Roach had said that Manny would be aggressive during this 4th fight, but Manny is always aggressive – nothing new here. The series between the 2 fighters has been a give and take affair with both men giving as much as they were taking. The only thing different was that Marquez was stronger and more powerful as shown during the 3rd round when he hit Pacquiao with a routine right hand and Pacquiao went down hard. Because of the bulked up physique, Team Pacquiao probably assumed that Marquez would be slower and tighter…which turned out not to be the case – Marquez retained his speed.
Freddie Roach like all trainers, is going through a bad spell with 3 of his top fighters losing and one of those 3 bolting to another camp (Khan). Roach’s top pupil Manny Pacquiao seems to have absorbed all that Roach has to offer and is at a point in his career where he either needs to retire or seek a new direction when it comes to his boxing. The Manny of old that we saw 3 or 4 years ago, who was a runaway train, is gone, probably never to return. And just like Arturo Gatti who refined his skills when he was no longer able to battle his way through a fight, Pacquiao may need to do the same thing with a more refined, conservative approach – which will involve retooling.
Returning to Khan who’ll be fighting this coming Saturday night, many will be watching to see what if any improvements will be shown during his fight, and maybe, probably, he does well. Maybe Team Pacquiao sees his improvement and decides it’s also time for a change.