By Erwin Lastimosa
I remember the Manny Pacquiao of old, the one who would kiss his rosary and do the sign of the cross after his prefight corner prayer. That Manny Pacquiao was a ferocious competitor, relentless in the ring, he was a human with flaws and not a goody two shoes born again preacher/politician trying to create an image. The Pacman of today is a guy who seems to have been far removed from his roots as a ferocious warrior from the barrio that loved fighting.
Pacquiao outboxed Brandon Rios on Saturday night. It was a classy performance that showed the Pacman can actually move and box instead of slug, but it was also a performance that would have Floyd Mayweather Jr. licking his chops to finally fight him next. Pacquiao looked tired and bored in there, he also showed too much compassion against Rios, instead of jumping right on him after a flurry he gave Rios time to stick his tongue out and reset — the old Pacman would have threw another flurry of hard shots right after Rios would stick his tongue out. During the final round Manny was already smiling and touching Rios glove as to tell him I will let you survive this round so you can go the distance with me. Pacman got on his toes and he would throw a combo and wobble Rios and instead of continuing his blistering onslaught he backed to the middle of the ring and signaled Rios to come in. He let him survive, it was quite obvious that Manny carried this fight. Rios was there to be hit all day long, he was much slower than Antonio Margarito a slugger that Pacman blistered with combos, and could have been knocked out multiple times throughout the fight, but Manny backed off similar to how he backed off of Timothy Bradley when they fought. Maybe Manny was scared to get knocked out again and got cold feet? From the looks of it, it seemed more like he showed too much compassion and allowed Rios to go the distance with him.
Roy Jones Jr. made a very truthful observation, he said that he didn’t like the body language of Manny Pacquiao in the ring, he wasn’t enjoying himself in there. That is the same exact thought that ran through my mind as I watched the fight, Pacquiao no longer loves boxing he just does it to earn a check. The Pacman boxing fans remember was the relentless warrior who took a fighters will with a flurry of shots over and over — never giving his opponent time to reset or breath. This present version is an aged legend who has lost a step and along with it the desire to compete in the ring.
His post fight speech is evidence of a man who doesn’t want to hurt anyone anymore, he said “we are all brothers and sisters” and got preachy again. I remember Pacquiao said “If you are scared to get knocked out or lose, boxing is not for you” well if you don’t have the appetite for destruction boxing is not for you. This is the hurt business and if you don’t want to hurt someone you are in the wrong sport, let the ref or the corner show compassion. If I were Manny, I would call it a career. Hang up the gloves and don’t give Floyd Mayweather the satisfaction of beating you up so he can brag about how much better he is than you. You will just be another name on the list of fighters he fought past their prime.