By Steve Lewis
You know you must be damn good if the other candidate for best pound-for-pound fighter is demanding that you take Olympic-style drug testing when previously, no one else has ever had to take one…ever. (Remember, all this happened even before Shane Mosley agreed to bow to Floyd Mayweather’s demands.)
You know you must be damn good when you are a 140-pounder masquerading as a welterweight and you are being called out by middleweights.
You know you must be damn good if you have to eat extra meals before weigh-in just to make it past 144 lbs. and pummel a virtual super middleweight come fight night, who has every single size advantage over you, and critics as a matter-of-factly characterize the massacre as being “expected.”
You know you must be damn good when you can be distracted by the rigors of politics, the demands of showbiz, the scrutiny of the media, the burden of carrying an entire nation on your shoulders, and having to train for a championship fight at the same time, and still dismantle one of the biggest, most avoided welterweights in recent years, who outweighs you by a whopping 17 pounds and is taller by almost 5 inches.
You know you must be damn good when, despite the said 17 pound weight disparity against you, the critics gripe that the heavier guy had to weigh in at 4 pounds below the maximum jr. middleweight limit, when in fact, he is weighing in 3 pounds over what he is accustomed to coming in at (being a long-time welterweight).
People have said it: Antonio Margarito is slow. Big deal.
Oh yeah? A 140-pounder who has to eat extra meals just to make it around 144 lbs fractures the orbital bone of an iron-chinned welterweight freak who comes in the size of a super middleweight, and rearranges his face for good measure, and it is not a big deal?
If it is not a big deal, then find me another 140-pounder who would’ve done the same thing.
Andreas Kotelnik? I don’t think so.
Devon Alexander? After his performance against Kotelnik, I doubt it.
Timothy Bradley? We saw how it went for him moving up in weight against Luis Carlos Abregu. No way.
Amir Khan? Maybe he can out-speed Margarito and possibly outpoint him. But to go toe-to-toe with Margarito and pummel him the way Pacquiao did? Not with Khan’s suspect chin. Unlikely. If a lightweight Breidis Prescott tagged Khan pretty good, then an uppercut to the chin from a 160+ pound Margarito would crumple him as well.
Marcos Maidana? No one even knew about Maidana prior to his fight against Victor Ortiz (who had Maidana tasting the canvas before wilting himself). But other than that, he remains unproven beyond the jr. welterweight ranks.
Juan Urango? Paulie Malignaggi? OK, now we’re just grasping for straws.
Heck, are there any current welterweights that could have done what Pacquiao did? People are complaining about catchweights, but fine. Find me someone else, even with catchweights, who would have done the same thing Pacquiao has done.
Sure, Floyd Mayweather and maybe Andre Berto would have out-finessed Margarito and taken a points victory. But who in the welterweight class could have traded with Margarito and still come out victorious and in one piece? Yes, Mosley did it before in January 2009 in the welterweight ranks, right after Margarito got caught with his hands in the proverbial cookie jar. But I am talking about now, presently. Mosley would not repeat that feat if he were to try it again, especially not at 150. So who else then?
No one. At least, not in the manner that Pacquiao did.
And if you are able to do something that no one else can do, then that sets you apart from everyone else, whether it was expected or not.
Pacquiao, as recent as 2008, was still fighting in the super featherweight division. Find me a super featherweight from back then (or even from the current crop) that would have been able to climb up and pummel the likes of Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Juan Manuel Marquez recently commented that Pacquiao defeated Cotto and Margarito because they were slow and were damaged goods. Could Marquez have destroyed Cotto and Margarito too at 145 and 150 respectively? I highly doubt it.
And find me a professional jr. flyweight, who you think will become a welterweight title holder in 10 years? You probably won’t find any. You probably never will.
Eight championships in eight different weight classes! Big whooptie-whoop!
Oh yeah? Then why has no one else been able to do it? If it is so easy, and despite the increase in the number of weight classes and the number of sanctioning bodies, then why hasn’t anybody else done it?
The closest to Pacquiao in that regard is Oscar De La Hoya, with six. And Oscar only has a title in a 6th weight class because he was given a gift decision by the judges when he took Felix Sturm’s middleweight belt. But even when you disregard that, that is still two less than what Pacquiao has.
Look at it another way. Think of all the great boxers from Mexico who have graced the sport. There are a whole bunch of them! Many great ones and hundreds of good ones. And of all those Mexican fighters who have laced up a pair of gloves, NOT ONE has been able to win titles in 4 different weight classes. Not one. And Pacquiao already has double that!
Even putting aside the alphabet titles, Pacquiao has the most “lineal” championships at 4. When we say “lineal,” we are talking about beating the guy who beat the guy who beat the guy. Not just merely fighting someone else for a vacant trinket. So even under those standards, Pacquiao still leads the pack.
Again, the main point is if you are able to do something that no one else can do and no else has done, then that sets you apart from everyone else.
People can prognosticate all they want about what would happen “on paper.” But fights are not won on paper. They are won inside the squared circle. Those who pick Paul Williams to beat Sergio Martinez can attest to that. So instead of prognosticating and theorizing, let’s just wait and see what would happen if an actual fight takes place.
I guess you know you are damn good when your name is Manny Pacquiao.
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