Remnants of Pacquiao

By: Danny Richardson

Follow me @Danny_Boy_93

It has been just over 3 since the Pac Man, Manny Pacquiao, controversially lost his WBO welterweight title to Timothy ‘Desert Storm’ Bradley in Las Vegas, and it seems the boxing world still has plenty to say about it. After some quite astonishing scorecards from the Las Vegas judges, the unbeaten Bradley was awarded the split decision verdict, despite the majority of the boxing world having Pacquiao as the comfortable winner. I personally scored the fight 116-112 in favour of Pacquiao, and having seen the fight since, I still have the same scores.
However, despite Pacquiao being on the wrong end of a robbery, what has escaped attention is the clear decline that Pacquiao has suffered. The Pacquiao that destroyed Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in successive fights is long gone, and now we are left with a fighter who is a shadow of his former self.
I don’t want to sound anti-Pacquiao, because I’m not. As a boxing fan, I have loved watching him fight, he has constantly entertained and has been a breath of fresh air for boxing. He has defied all odds by moving up multiple weight classes and beating the best fighters on offer, as well as winning multiple world titles and claiming the throne of pound for pound king. Although he and Floyd Mayweather have yet to meet, together they have kept boxing alive, drawing in new fans from around the world and keeping audiences entertained. Pacquiao has been the people’s champion and become the most popular man in his native Philippines, cementing his place in the boxing Hall of Fame.
However, in recent contests, it has become clear that Pacquiao is sliding. Against Shane Mosley in May last year, he dominated but failed to entertain in claiming a unanimous point’s verdict, but that was put down to the Pac Man suffering from cramp. However, against long time rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their third meeting last November, Pacquiao was lucky to escape with a victory against the Mexican, walking away with a Majority Decision verdict that was hotly contested. I had Marquez winning the fight, and although not as controversial as the Bradley decision, I believe Pacquiao was lucky to get the win.
The sharpness, the explosiveness and the power that Pacquiao had showcased in the previous 5 or so contests to the Marquez fight was not there against the Mexican warrior. There was something missing from Pacquiao’s performance, he didn’t look his usual self. Some put that down to the opposition, with many pointing out that Manny had struggled against Marquez in their previous two contests, so was bound to struggle again with his ‘bogey fighter’. Marquez’s style had posed Pacquiao problems before, so it was inevitable that the fight was going to be close once again.
However, we were told in the build up that Pacquiao would obliterate Marquez, and judging on recent form, we believed that would happen. Pacquiao had become a different fighter than the one who had drawn against and beaten Marquez in the past, and as Marquez had dropped a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather a few fights prior to the Pacquiao trilogy fight, there was only going to be one winner. I’m not taking anything away from Marquez, but Pacquiao looked sloppy that November night, his skills clearly not what they once were.
But, the Bradley fight was supposed to be redemption for Pacquiao. Despite reported personal problems, Pacquiao had apparently looked back to his best in training, at least according to trainer Freddie Roach. I, and many other fans of the sport believed Pacquiao would prove a point and blow Bradley away, but what we got was quite the opposite.
As I said before, I had Pacquiao winning the fight, but there was a difference in his performance. He fought in the last minute of every round particularly well, but for the first two, he let Bradley dictate. The last minute whirlwind was enough for him to win the round, don’t get me wrong, but the Pacquiao of old would have dominated from start to finish, and probably stopped Bradley. There were times when he looked as if he would get the stoppage, but that ruthless streak wasn’t there. He lacked something yet again, and although he was robbed, the loss on his record could mark the end.
I say that, because I have no idea where he goes from here. The rematch with Bradley is obviously the most likely to happen, and if he destroys him in the rematch, then everything I’ve said will be a load of rubbish. But, I don’t see it happening. There’s something missing from his performances, and it marks his decline.
He could face Marquez again, but that is bound to be another close contest, which will raise even more questions. Or, he could face Floyd Mayweather (I wish), and we could finally see the super fight to end all super fights. But, I can’t see anything other than a Mayweather win should they ever meet; I’ve maintained that from day one. If Pacquiao was to lose to any of those fighters, that would be the end of him, no arguments.
The Bradley defeat, albeit controversial, could have a massive mental impact on Pacquiao. He has had personal troubles recently, and he may want to get out of boxing without suffering another defeat. He has focused on his political career in recent years, and that could be one of the reasons why we have witnessed a Pacquiao decline. The distractions are clearly getting to him, and for that reason, I believe this year or certainly next, will be the last time we see Pacquiao in a boxing ring. He has been a terrific fighter, and has entertained us all, but in my opinion, the Pac Man won’t be around much longer.

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