It wasn’t that long ago that Manny Pacquiao, 54-5-2, 38 KO’s, was considered the number one threat to Floyd Mayweather, JR., but times has really changed. With back to back losses, the star has dimmed and there are very few that would give the Filipino star any chance to win a round, let alone win the fight, but there is still money to be made, and Bob Arum is going to make it.
Pacquiao is suffering from the same problem that Roy Jones, JR., had. Father time has kicked in and the 34-year-old doesn’t have the reflexes that he once had, which allows fighters like Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez to land with more regularity. He cannot escape the incoming. It cost him dearly in his last match with Marquez, where they had to scrape him off of the floor in the sixth round. Prior to that, he lost a decision to Bradley. The loss can be debated, but what cannot be debated was the sub-par performance by Manny. The old (or younger) Pacquiao would have probably starched Bradley. This one couldn’t find the mark.
When we go back one more fight, we can look at Pacquiao-Marquez III. That was the first fight where we saw Manny not performing in the dominant fashion that he’s always done. He has always had issues with the counter-punching style of Marquez, but he got a lot less done in their third encounter and the fight should have gone to Marquez at the end of the night. The bigger name won, but I think that the word was out. Pacquiao was losing his edge, which is why Bradley was selected.
Bradley was seen as a feather-fisted aggressor…the perfect opponent for the slower Pacquiao. He could find him easier and eventually find the mark, but it didn’t happen. Now, they are running the same game with Brandon Rios, 31-1-1, 23 KO’s, an aggressor with questionable defense that will be there to be hit. Unfortunately for Pacquiao, Rios has a punch and will hit back and will find Manny. This could be the final big fight for Pacquiao.
Over the years, Manny has been a gold mine for Top Rank. His pay per views was huge sellers and the Mayweather JR tease helped keep his name in the headlines. It’s debatable if Manny or Arum ever really wanted that fight. A lot of people in boxing use their hearts instead of their heads, especially those that were picking Pacquiao to somehow starch Floyd, but most knowledgeable boxing fans saw the fight for what it was from jump. It was a mismatch. Arum did the right thing, matching Manny with name opponents that would bring in good numbers and not that much risk.
The slip up came with Marquez, and we got a better window into that fight after Timothy Bradley dominated Marquez recently. Manny was beaten by a shot fighter. He was not only beaten, but he was knocked out cold by him. This tells us that Pacquiao is ripe for the picking and Rios doesn’t have to be perfect to get it done. If he can take a shot, we are for a very interesting night in China.
Even if Manny should win and knock out Rios early and explosively, don’t be fooled. We always hear that the “old fighter” is back, but the literally old fighter is still here. Older fighters like Bernard Hopkins picked the right opponents that would give them the opportunity to win the fights. Hopkins knows a quick fighter with some resolve will beat him, so he picks the plodders. Manny doesn’t have many options outside of the brawlers like Rios. Bradley will beat Pacquiao in a rematch. That is why that fight never happened. They have to deal with Manny’s career at this point gently and I’m not sure that Rios is the right guy for this last hurrah.
The biggest kick in the nuts for the boxing fans is that this fight is a 60 dollar pay per view with nothing extraordinary in the supporting bouts. Floyd Mayweather, JR., fought Canelo Alvarez, both undefeated and atop of the sport, and still had Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse as the supporting bout. This PPV has nothing of note, outside of the name “Pacquiao” that has lost two bouts, arguably three, in a row, facing an unknown that has lost his last fight. This fight could have headlined an HBO card, but Arum wanted to squeeze one last pay per view out of it.
Manny Pacquiao had a great run as a PPV attraction, but his time has come and gone. They may still get a few wins against less than stellar competition and then launch him into a fight with Floyd Mayweather, JR., just to say that it happened and make the biggest bang for the buck, but the force of nature that once plowed over his opposition is long gone. This pay per view is only worth the rent if you want to enjoy what may be Manny’s last fight.