Monday, November 16, 2009

The little BIG man of Boxing

Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao’s tactical demolition of Puerto Rican welterweight champ Miguel Cotto this weekend left no doubt as to the 7-division champ’s status as the best fighter of our generation competing with the likes of 70s icon Muhammad Ali and the 80’s Sugar Ray Leonard.

(Left: Cotto asks Bayless, "I object. Why is Buboy inside the ring?")

Traffic came to a halt and crime rate dropped as Filipinos eagerly anticipated PR vs RP. And when the referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight for the running Puerto Rican, Miguel Cotto’s face was a mask of Halloween going trick or treat. Poor Cotto didn’t know what hit him. And so did Hatton, De la Hoya, Diaz, Marquez, Barrera, Morales and many others before him.

Make no mistake, there is still the undefeated Floyd Mayweather, Jr and his trash-talking father out there but who cares? Floyd is a businessman first and a defensive specialist second who relies on smaller opposition (and a bigger paycheck). Manny Pacquiao is a fighter’s champ and a people’s champ. He fights who the people want to see him fight. That is a heart of a champion.

In an era where Mixed Martial Arts is decimating boxing on attendance and PPV buys, Pacquiao’s worldwide appeal to sports fans from all walks of life badly resurrected boxing to its iconic status reminiscent of the time when Ali fought Joe Frazier in the 70s and when Sugar Ray Leonard met Hagler and Hearns in the 80s.

Humble as his roots are despite taking an historic 7th world title, the champ was gracious to his opponents even complimenting Miguel Cotto’s power left hooks which rocked Manny… a bit.

Cotto, ever gracious in defeat proclaimed Pacquiao as the best fighter he ever fought.

What’s next for Manny? Surely you cannot suggest he go after Sugar Shane Mosley? After all, Manny beat the man who beat the man.

And the business of Marquez is over. Sure it’s a fight that could have gone either way after 24 rounds of boxing but if the Mexican fought Pacquaio right now, he will end up like Hatton, knocked out for good, counted out then forgotten.

Which comes to the question of Floyd. Well, let Floyd come to Manny. Manny does not need Floyd to elevate his status. Floyd needs Manny and the pressure is on him to create that fight. If that happens, defensive tactician meets offensive specialist. Speeds kills, as Cotto just found out, which both have. But power is what Manny gives compared to Floyd’s fly flicks and eventually the pressure will be too much (276 power punches against Cotto’s 93). After the fight, Floyd will no longer be “pretty” but the opposite of what he once was.