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Manny Pacquiao: The Best Fighter of the Era

By Daniel “Tex” Cohen

I have noticed a general pendulum swing in most public debates, first all the way to one side, then back to the other.  The individual person tends to get fed up with one side of the story rather quickly and, in an effort to encourage unnecessary novelty, violently shifts his mindset back to that of his initial opposite.  Pundits call this “balance” and “moderation”, but I call it a sham.  If one side of the story is correct, you should not sacrifice truth for “balance.”

The same can be said in the case of Manny Pacquiao.  Pacquiao is, hands down, the greatest fighter of the era.  Making a different case is difficult at best and delusional at worst.  Yet the internet is full of writers, driven by… well, who knows what… that feel differently.  I have never seen an athlete as successful in his athletic endeavors as has been Manny Pacquiao and yet so fully denigrated for illogical nonsense as Pacquiao has been. 

Consider that:

-Pacquiao has jumped more weight classes with more success than has any other fighter of all-time.  While that idea is somewhat mitigated by the era of an increased amount of weight classes, blaming Pacquiao for circumstances seems silly.  Pacquiao has fought professionally within a weight limit of thirty pounds, something that has been matched (arguably) by only the greatest fighters of all-time:  Sugar Ray Robinson, Roberto Duran, Roy Jones, JR., and Sugar Ray Leonard.  Some will tell you that Pacquiao’s performance is not as impressive as the performance of these pugilists, but I will retort that even receiving mention in the same BREATH as these SPECTACULAR fighters is a testament to the impressive body of work that Pacman has put together. 

-Pacquiao has been treated with a double standard in more than one respect.  First, his knockout losses toward the beginning of his career have been used as proof of weakness by Floyd Mayweather, JR., and others in Mayweather’s corner on the issue of Pacquiao’s dominance.  No matter how many times this crowd hears that Pacquiao was a teenager at the time of such knockout losses, they will point to those moments as brief weaknesses for which he should forever receive punishment.  Pacquiao fought professionally 24 times as a teenager; Mayweather fought a grand total of four times as a teenager.  Pacquiao won his first title belt a few days before his twentieth birthday. 

Notice how none of the positives that Pacquiao accomplished during that time period are mentioned by any of those that wish to detract from Pacquiao.  Instead of focusing on the important matters (such as him wiping the floor with really effective fighters, grabbing a belt, and establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with for a decade to follow), they focus on a pair of knockout losses that are ancient history. 

-Even if Pacquiao’s losses were significant, the following men have been knocked out at least once:  George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, Sugar Ray Robinson, Dick Tiger, Henry Armstrong, Willie Pep, Benny Leonard, Sam Langford, Henry Wills, Joe Louis, Oscar De La Hoya, Jack Johnson, Jack Demspey, Mike Tyson, Ken Norton, Harry Greb, Thomas Hearns, Archie Moore, Bob Foster, Fritzie Zivic, Roberto Duran, Lennox Lewis, and Wladimir Klitschko. 

The bottom line is that fighters that fight other good fighters without ducking people, making excuses, or taking cheap shots, usually get knocked out.  Many of them were knocked out more than once.  Do we downgrade Roberto Duran based on his four KO losses?  No.  Give Manny the same treatment. 

-As if that double standard weren’t bad enough, Pacquiao’s biggest controversy has been entirely manufactured by Mayweather’s PR team.  Pacquiao has been accused of using steroids because of 1) his supposed “hypocrisy” regarding a fear of needles, 2) his amazing performance at different weights, and 3) his refusal to blood-test just to “clear his name.”

Unfortunately, these arguments are all weak sauce.  Pacquiao’s fear of needles have little, if anything, to do with his unwillingness to fight Mayweather or take blood tests. 

Pacquiao has stated time and time again that he didn’t want the tests to come at random points and up to close time proximity within the fight because they create a hassle and a distraction.  Some have said that can’t be true because of the relatively small amount of blood taken in individual tests, but first-hand experiences of the outcomes of blood tests have suggested that some people do indeed bruise easily and feel weaker following a test. 

Pacquiao may be one of those people.  What is a certainty is that Mayweather introduced the testing element as a distraction so he could gain the upper hand in the fight.  He can claim that he wants to “clean up the sport”, or that he “is not suggesting Pacquiao is on steroids”, but his timing is not even “curious” but suspicious. 

Mayweather never called for testing of any of his other opponents.  Now he has decided to claim that his new effort is some sort of high road for future testing.  Of course, if you’ve ever covered the career of Floyd Mayweather and the way that he postures leading into a fight, you will see that it makes more sense that he would try to gain a mental edge on Pacquiao going into the fight.  That’s why Pacquiao turned it down. 
Now the Mayweather camp will come out and tell you that “turning down twenty-five million dollars over a drug test, then fighting for six” is suspicious… But we all know that’s an incredible oversimplification of what actually happened. 

As far as his performance at different weight classes serving as evidence of his steroid use, I can’t help but laugh.  The same people who find his performance at different weights unimpressive can’t help but point out how impressive it is and use that as a reason to doubt his natural abilities.  The fact is that these people are so blinded by hatred for the Filipino that they can’t believe he could achieve such accomplishments.  Therefore, they have decided that he’s on drugs.

To take that a step further, they now demand that Pacquiao prove his innocence.  You might realize y now that if you were Pacquiao, you would tell these folks to get bent; He doesn’t owe them squat.  Is a man responsible for clearing his name of every charge, no matter how ridiculous?  Pacquiao’s one of the toughest men on the planet, right?  Does that mean he’s guilty of unsolved murders?  I mean, he’s tough, so he could have done it, right?  Should we demand an alibi from him?  What is someone accused him of coming from another planet?  Would he have to prove he is biologically human?  When did we start assuming people were guilty and asking them to prove innocence? 

-Some have even gone as far as to say that Pacquiao has been aided by match-making and stylistic advantage.  To this I scoff.  I shouldn’t have to type out his resume, but apparently, people need to see this.  Manny Pacquiao has won two out of three fights from Erik Morales, two out of two from Marco Antonio Barrera, a win and a draw against Juan Manuel Marquez, and knockouts over David Diaz, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, and Oscar De La Hoya.  The Marquez fights were denigrated because he “might have lost.”  The Hatton and De La Hoya victories were downplayed because the two men were “too old.”  Funny how those that downplayed those victories thought that Pacquiao would lose those fights.  After the fact, they made excuses for the losers.  Pacquiao has put together an impressive body of his work against a variety of different fighters with not tune-ups, very little down time, and very little failure. 

In the end, I have said nothing new, and yet I have said what needs to be said:  Manny Pacquiao is the Pound for Pound Champion of the world, the greatest fighter of his era, and a one of a kind fighter that ranks highly on the all-time list.  If you don’t see it for yourself, you have only yourself to blame.

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