Fixing Manny-A A +A
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
THE loud boos said it all: it was a “robbery” in Las Vegas -- though it happens all the time in the casinos – as Manny Pacquiao’s winning streak ended in a controversial split decision in his bout against American Timothy Bradley.
It is by far the most questionable conclusion in boxing history, even as experts were too quick to slam the decision, and the two judges who made sure it was indeed the result. Bradley, the badly beaten, beating Pacquiao, the unscathed. Such irony only in boxing can possibly exist.
There was disappointment, which is readily understood, for we got used to seeing Manny on those ropes waving to the crowd in victory. There was anger, which is a given, for we got used to seeing Manny win every fight even by decision; no matter who the judges, no matter who the opponent and no matter who really won.
There was confusion: we didn’t know what hit us, for we got used to seeing Manny overwhelm his opponents with the will of a beast, making sure no doubt can be casted on a win.
But while Manny may have reduced Bradley to miffs that he got so close to getting knocked out, he didn’t knock him out. The People’s Champ may have landed power punches that dented his opponent’s facial architecture, but the beaten and blue came back. In some occasions, Bradley was so dazed he was a motionless -- timber ready for the axe. No, Manny didn’t chop.
Perhaps he was exhausted, or maybe the knock-out punch wasn’t in his arsenal for the night. Or perhaps, again, the adrenalin failed to reach maximum deployment. Maybe he’s getting old, age finally catching up to him. Maybe he’s getting bored with always winning; losing appeals to him this time. Or maybe, just maybe, he never wanted to knock him out really.
No matter the reason, Pacquiao had that chance, many chances even, to make Bradley kiss the canvass goodbye. He did it against much stronger and taller opponents. He just didn’t do it against someone his size, someone his built and someone lesser in power.
Yes, the two judges’ decision may have been totally inaccurate, but it sure was within sanity’s range. Manny’s tenacity obviously diminished in the later rounds and the consequence was far unacceptable to many.
For that is what lures us to watch him fight in the first place: the menacing fists, the ferocious speed and yes, the killer instinct.
Unfortunately, in those final rounds, Pacquiao wasn’t boxing to win; he was boxing not to lose. Over-confident or over-relaxed, he over-protected his fiefdom by not doing his stuff. He wasn’t “Pacquiaoesque”.
The Manny Pacquiao that we know never blinks; throws earth-shaking left hooks, out-of-nowhere power punches and precision-guided jabs; and showers his opponent with unstoppable flurry. The Manny Pacquiao that we know sends opponents to the canvass with or without them knowing it. The Manny Pacquiao that we know is relentless and can take the fight to the last round with the same energy, hunger and ferocity. No rest for the weary, no rest for the champion.
But going into the last rounds, Pacquiao allowed Bradley to show more heart, more aggressiveness and more intensity; he allowed Bradley to get rejuvenated. And under a strong second wind, Bradley showed no respect, much less fear, for Pacquiao’s speed and power, undermining them altogether. As they say, the aggressive always wins.
Perhaps the two judges saw that from their respective angles. Maybe they chose to see it that way. Maybe it was rigged, who knows. But had Pacquiao been overwhelming, the choice wouldn’t be that easy.
Boxing is an inexact science they say, as human factor -- in the form of judges and the referee -- plays a major part. You don’t, as possible as you can, allow that human factor to decide the outcome. Manny, perhaps, made that possible; he gave the judges that chance.
A loss is a loss just like a win is a win; and either way, moving forward is the only option. For surely Manny will make a comeback; this time more prepared both physically and mentally. We all know he can. But he needs to put together the same attributes that made him the People’s Champion. But it is only he who can fix it, no one can.
Let’s all hope he gets back to being Manny Pacquiao.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on June 14, 2012.