By John F. McKenna (McJack)
WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KO’s) successfully defended his title Saturday night against WBO/WBA lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KO’s). But Pacquiao’s performance pleased no one. It was expected after the close decision favoring “Pacman” over Marquez at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas that many of the pro Mexican fans would protest. What was not expected was that even in Manny’s homeland there were many boxing fans and Filipino newspapers who were critical of the three judges decision which awarded Manny another controversial win.
Manny boxing insiders in the aftermath of Pacquiao’s disappointing performance against Marquez are questioning what went wrong. Even Manny’s longtime trainer Freddie Roach and strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza are scratching their heads. Both had been very public about predicting an easy win for “Pacman” and went as far as to say that a 1st round KO for Pacquiao was not out of the question.
Both Roach and Ariza are now acknowledging that they were way off base in their predictions. Welcome aboard guys, this writer had predicted a Pacquiao stoppage inside of 8 rounds. I was among those who those who thought that Pacquiao’s youth (32 vs 38), his speed, size and new found ability to use both hands effectively while attacking would be too much for “El Dinamita” to cope with. And let us not forget Manny’s foot speed and the angles he now uses were something he did not have the last time he fought Marquez in 2008.
To coin a phrase it all seemed like a “slam dunk” for Manny. Today team Pacquiao is pretty much in a funk and attempting to dissect what went wrong with the game plan they were so sure was going to produce an easy KO win over Marquez. It’s back to the drawing board again in attempting to figure out the style of Marquez who constantly adapts and readapts to an opponents style. In Pacquiao – Marquez III “El Dinamita” apparently adapted ahead of time to the style Manny would bring into the ring on Saturday night. He was easily able to time and counter Pacquiao’s anticipated attacks and counter them.
A post fight analysis by all the players on Team Pacquiao though painful is needed. It is no time to panic, but it is time to make some corrections. Manny has to greatly curtail his out of the ring activities. The game shows, the cutting of albums at recording studios, the late night TV shows during fight week and Manny’s political career needs to be put on hold. Not even Manny Pacquiao can juggle all those balls in the air at once. There will be plenty of time for those other activities when Manny retires, which is probably only a year or two away.
As long as Pacquiao was winning decisively and in impressive fashion the outside activities were not a major issue. That is no longer the case in lieu of Manny’s victories over Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Lastly, Pacquiao’s greatly admired trainer Freddie Roach and coach Alex Ariza need to keep it real. Predicting a 1st round KO for your fighter is probably not the smartest thing in the world to do. It is the kind of press clipping your opponents coach might want to put up on the wall to motivate him. And for Ariza to make the crack he allegedly made before the fight that even God could not help Marquez against Pacquiao is just a little bit over the top. A comment like that might make God want to show who the boss is. Enough of the arrogance.
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