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Manny Pacquiao Vs the 1990s: Felix Trinidad, a Prime Shane Mosley & More take on “The PacMan”

By Eugene Green

The nineties were an exciting time for the welterweight and the light welterweight divisions. Great battles were waged; from the ashes of the old titans new stars were born. The old guard of the eighties held on as long as it could, in the futile struggle against time, eventually plunging into the abyss of forgetfulness. Somewhere in the middle of it, Julio Cesar Chavez’s age finally caught up with him, and the proud legionnaire reluctantly released his throne: it was time for the new blood to fill the void. In the shadows, there teemed young, hungry warriors, ready to jump into the vicious fight for supremacy at a moment’s notice. Their many unforgettable clashes created a legacy that is forever etched into the subconscious core of our memories.

A select few of that decade have been able to secure their spot in history: Tito Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Vernon Forrest and Kostya Tszyu. Each of these fighters had made the best of use of his natural gifts, achieving tremendous feats in the ring. The time-defying Shane Mosley is still a considerable force in the division, not so long ago defeating the likes of Luis Collazo and Antonio Margarito.

Yet, despite their impressive resumes, these accomplishments are eclipsed by the near-blinding light of a relatively new star. It is a star that rose in the East, in the City of General Santos, Philippines. The man in question is, of course, Manny Pacquiao. He is a world champion in 8 different weight classes, and as time goes on, he only seems to get better. Today, we will delve into the realm of theory, by briefly evaluating how each of the prime versions of these boxers would have performed, if pitted against Manny of today?  Keep in mind that these are bare conjectures.

Felix Tito Trinidad:

This is your classic boxer puncher, with a very textbook approach to boxing. I see Pacquiao confusing him with angles, and swarming him with the sheer volume of punching, sweeping him right off those brittle chicken legs of his. He gets up five or six times, before the referee, tired of the Puerto Rican version of Nevalyashka, calls a halt to the action.

Oscar De La Hoya:

This would have been an awesome bout.

Unlike the older, stiff, tight and hesitant version of himself, I see Oscar attempting to control Manny with the Jab, and trying to pressure him against the ropes and, once there, throwing huge shots to the head. Pacquiao responds by overwhelming De La Hoya with speed, and rendering his jab ineffective by lateral movement and superior footwork. Hurts him repeatedly after the fifth, knocks him down, but no knockout comes.

Shane Mosley:

A prime Shane Mosley, who is lightning fast, tireless and hard-punching will attempt to box Manny as well as trade blow for blow, when necessary. I think, in terms of talent, these two are most evenly matched: about the same speed, blazing fast footwork. Manny is clearly superior when it comes to throwing volume punches, especially when he is off-balance, but Shane’s counterpunching ability negates some of it, creating issues for the Filipino in the process. This one is a classic for the ages, with plenty of dangerous moments for both of them. It ends with a split decision for Pacquiao, as he outpoints Mosley with his aggressiveness.

Vernon Forrest: 

Yuck. That’s the first thought that comes to mind. Forrest creates a dogfight, sticking his longer jab in Pacquiao’s face, and tying him up when he gets close. We are talking elbows in the neck, the works. Pacquiao pulls out a very tough, draining decision, as he manages to outpoint the opponent due to his vastly superior work rate.

Kostya Tszyu:

Tszyu has perfected the art of timing his opponents, maximizing the opportunity when it presented itself, as in the case of Judah. Like Manny, Zab was also lightning fast and swarmed and dominated Kostya who was no match for him in terms of speed and power, for the first round and a half.

Tszyu, the ultimate hunter, emotionlessly deposited himself in the bushes, and launched a nuclear bomb the very millisecond he saw an opening. Given Pacquiao’s propensity to get hit (it’s hard to argue that Pacquiao is hard to hit, and even get hurt at times: even the plodding Margarito was able to get to him on more than one occasion), a knockout is a plausible outcome. In all fairness though, Tzsyu, despite his excellent pedigree, never faced anyone the caliber of Pacquiao, not even close. Also, Roach and Pacquiao would have likely prepared for Tszyu’s tricks, and trained to fight a much more careful, controlled fight. I see the Filipino pulling out a 12 round UD in a boring fight, with neither man really hurt or challenged, for that matter.

In short, even though these are all dream match-ups, a thoughtful compartmentalization of these fighters’ and their fighting styles will reveal that Pac-man would have had the ability to defeat, or at the very least, hang in, with the best of them. You do not have to be a Pac-fan, to give credit when it is due. The man does not have a heart of a lion, he IS a lion. And the so-called “lion tamer”, wherever he is at the moment…seems to be more concerned with beating his women, and poking security guards in the eye, than proving to the world he can stick his head into the lion’s maw and come out alive. But the world is watching…

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