By Erwin Lastimosa
The three best Filipino boxers in the world have all recently taken losses, the first big blow came when the global boxing icon Manny Pacquiao suffered a huge knockout loss to his long time Mexican counterpart Juan Manuel Marquez, next was Brian Viloria losing his super flyweight belts by decision to Juan Francisco Estrada who fights similar to Juan Manuel Marquez, and now Nonito Donaire losing a tactical fight against crafty Cuban boxer Guillermo Rigondeaux, all of these highly touted Pinoy boxers lost while trying to please the audience.
I think this shows a major flaw within the Filipino boxing community, we tend to look down on fighters who fight defensive and praise those who brawl and go toe to toe like Manny Pacquiao. The Mexican and Filipino fight fans are similar because they have that macho mentality of trading punches and going to war. Boxing is the science of hit and not get hit, it might not be the most exciting for the fans but it is how the sport evolved. In order for Filipino boxing to advance they need to focus on defense and improving their offense and ring control so they know how to cut off the ring and apply constant pressure without wasting punches. Ring intelligence is very important, have more than just one plan, you need a plan B, and plan C at least.
Manny Pacquiao lost because he made several mistakes, sometimes being too aggressive works but it can also backfire on you. He fought Juan Manuel Marquez well in the first few rounds of their fourth match, he was using head movement and timing Marquez, but his big problem is that he lacks patience he always wants to please the crowd, this is why exciting boxers are called showmen they get off on crowd pleasing — hearing the cheers it turns them on and makes them want more adulation. Pacquiao got dropped by Marquez with a looping right hook because he backed out instead of side stepping and while he backed out he dropped his hand and got hit flush. Marquez is very smart, he knows that when you hurt Pacquiao that he just fights back harder so Marquez all through the fight did what he always does back stepping counters, he didn’t jump on Manny after he dropped him early he stayed focused and patient, never swaying from his game plan. The final knockout was one of the most amateurish mistakes in boxing — you never leave your hands down, jump in the air, and lung forward while throwing a punch, that is how Pacquiao got caught flush with a right hand that put him to sleep. Patience is a virtue, this is something that Pacquiao lacks, he can box just watch the David Diaz and Oscar De La Hoya fights but he chooses not too, because he seems to get bored easily and always wants to hear the crowd roar with excitement, and he paid the ultimate price for it.
Brian Viloria who I consider the more technical off the three Pinoy boxers, was just outworked by a younger, faster, and stronger opponent, Juan Francisco Estrada was a Juan Manuel Marquez clone, mixing up his punch combo variety, constantly circling, making it hard for Viloria to defend because he had no clue where those punches were going to land. I think Viloria was trying to push the action too much, and played into Estrada’s game, Viloria as well wanted to impress the viewers since this was his first time fighting on HBO he wanted a knockout badly, but almost got knocked out in the process. The one thing you can say about Viloria is his heart is one of the biggest in boxing, I don’t know how he was still standing after taking so many shots and wobbling in the late rounds like that.
Nonito Donaire lost because he was suffering from the same thing that Manny Pacquiao suffers from, the addiction to crowd pleasing, he wanted to get a knockout because he wanted to become a household name and big superstar. We can’t knock Nonito Donaire for trying to bring the fight, and I wish all boxers had the same mentality as Pacquiao, it would bring more fans to the sport, but it also makes you lose patience and focus in the ring. The interesting thing with Nonito is that he is not an aggressive fighter by nature he is more of a counter puncher, watch his fight with Vic Darchinyan, before the fight Darchinyan was worried that Nonito would run and he didn’t like his style of backing up and countering, but that style is what gave Nonito success in knocking out Darchinyan with his left hook counter. Nonito abandoned that style when he was getting air time on HBO, he was fighting guys who were willing to come at him, but after they saw him knock Fernando Montiel out in brutal fashion, the fighters all resorted to fighting him defensively, either covering up and jabbing or moving backward trying hard not to exchange with the Filipino Flash. Nonito should have made Guillermo Rigondeaux come to him, when you have two counter punchers, the one who goes forward usually loses the fight because one guy will be out of his element while the other stays in his comfortable counter punching mode. I felt Nonito’s big mistake is that he abandoned his technical counter punching style and was focusing on head hunting and trying to get a knockout, he shouldn’t try to focus on knocking guys out, this is boxing and at the top level you have to let the knockout come naturally if it happens it happens the more you look for it the more an intelligent boxer will avoid it because they know you are trying to load up on one shot. I wish Nonito would go back to using more body punches and mixing up his punch variety and use patient counter punching again.
If all three of these Filipino boxers comeback, I would hope they have more patience and abandon the mentality of always trying to please the crowd.
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Erwin Lastimosa is a long time boxing fan and enjoys discussion boxing with his peers.