PROMOTER Bob Arum was recently in the news expressing his opinion on why Manny Pacquiao has lost his knockout power when he reached his mid 30s. Bellicose Bob opined that Manny was never really a knockout puncher just because of the Ricky Hatton fight and those who insist otherwise, are missing the boat.
Well, there is a modicum of truth to what Arum is saying, despite the fact that he’s a lawyer (sorry, couldn’t resist digging at my own ilk).
FACTORS. Myriad factors interplay in producing a knockout. First and foremost of course, is punching power. There are fighters who are strong, but who do not really possess one-punch knockout power.
These fighters like to wear down opponents through an accumulation of punches, and deliver the coup de grace in the later rounds. Think Antonio Margarito or maybe Brandon Rios.
On the other hand, you have devastating hitters like Mike Tyson, arguably the most feared knockout puncher in history.
Or what about Thomas Hearns who isn’t even possessed with the musculature of a banger, but takes guys out of there with a single blow.
It is said that punching power cannot be taught no matter how many hours you work on it at the gym, and that might indeed be very plausible although it is also commonly accepted that you can improve on it through proper technique and execution.
Another factor which is often overlooked in the knockout equation is the target. The harder and tougher the target, the more difficult for the knockout to be produced.
In his prime, heavyweight contender Ray Mercer took the best punches that Larry Holmes, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield could dish out.
Mercer suffered his first stoppage loss only when he turned 41 at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko.
MANNY. When he was campaigning at the lower weights, Manny was already a tremendous puncher, and he had several first round kayos.
But even back then, his feral style was anchored on a furious all-out assault, featuring blows from all angles.
When he caught the world’s attention by defeating Lehlohono Ledwaba as a last-minute sub, he bloodied and battered the South African with eye-popping combinations before the fight was stopped in round 6.
But Manny’s reputation as a powerful puncher came into prominence when he knocked down Juan Manuel Marquez three times in the first round during their first encounter. He captured the fistic world’s imagination back then, and he continued to do so with stoppage wins over Erik Morales, Miguel Cotto and Oscar de la Hoya.
To date, his highlight reel one- punch knockouts came courtesy of Ricky Hatton and David Diaz.
In the Hatton fight, Manny caught him with a perfectly placed left hook that landed squarely on the Hitman’s jaw, rendering the latter unconscious for several minutes.
BIGGER. One thing that stands out is that Manny’s knockout ratio has indeed dissipated when he started fighting bigger opponents at higher weight classes.
His last stoppage win was against Cotto in 2009, and the knockdowns have come fewer and far between.
So maybe it’s not age afflicting Manny after all, contrary to what Bob says, but the target factor. Indeed, bigger guys can take punches better as the added bulk can probably cushion the torque behind the blows.
It is entirely possible that the capacious strength behind Manny’s blows remain the same, only that the targets have become bigger and tougher.
After all, you are talking about a fighter who started his career as a light flyweight ,unlike his rivals such as Marquez who started out as a featherweight (126 lbs) ,and Floyd Mayweather Jr who made his debut as a super-featherweight.
If any, the fact that Manny still continues to batter and brutalize bigger opponents continues to be an amazing feat in itself, and should not be a cause of concern for his fans.
At this stage of career, Manny doesn’t have to prove to anybody that he’s a knockout puncher. At the end of the day it’s all about winning. One- punch highlight reel knockouts only serve to embellish one’s legacy but not necessarily define it.
LAST ROUND. It’s on my favorite Judge and my better half, Hon. Charina Navarro-Quijano . Happy Birthday and Cheers!
(Follow me on Twitter @thelastround)