PACQUIAO WATCH: Failed expectations?
By Edwin G. Espejo
17 Mar 2008
HAS Manny Pacquiao become a victim of his own success?
This might as well be the question that should be answered instead of endlessly and passionately debating whether he won or lost his rematch and overly hyped unfinished business with Juan Manuel Marquez.
Many boxing analysts in the world of boxing are still disagreed with the split decision awarded to Manny to snatch the World Boxing Council diadem from Marquez last Sunday (March 16, Manila time).
Eminent Filipino sports scribes are as polarized as the country’s political landscape.
But majority of them could not categorically claim Manny lost that one.
The trouble with Manny is that he has set the bar of standard so high that anything less than a spectacular knockout or convincing drubbing of an opponent will be viewed as a mediocre performance or even a loss.
In a close fight such as the two he had with Marquez, many doubts were raised and continue to be debated.
But did Marquez also perform well enough to keep his crown and prove that he was the better boxer? That question should also be on the flipside of the argument.
No boxer in the super featherweight division and lighter weights in recent times have been so scrutinized than Manny ever since he shot his way to stardom and phenomenal success.
Barring none, Manny is acknowledged as the most exciting fighter in this part of contact sports. He blazed his way to be at least number three in anyone’s list of pound for pound professional boxer and ambushed along the way two Hall-of-Fame bound Mexican greats in the persons of Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.
Manny just made history by becoming the first boxer to win lineal crowns in the flyweight division and moved up the super featherweight class to crown himself king in that category. Along the way, he also captured the super bantamweight title to become the first and only Asian fighter to hold championship crowns in three weight divisions.
Had Barrera not abdicated his featherweight title for refusing to pay the sanctioning fee of WBC for earlier fighting another opponent, Manny would have also crowned himself king of the featherweight class. And he would have joined the elite class of boxing greats who won legitimate titles in four weight categories.
Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Oscar de la Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavezs…, they are all among the elite boxers who belonged to that hallowed list.
What separates Manny from these boxing greats is that he accomplished his feat in the lower weight classes where no one, and that is NONE ever, has done before.
It is for these reasons that Manny’s deserved victory over Marquez has been clouded with doubt.
He won in a manner that did not lived up to his reputation of knocking out and badly mauling an opponent.
His win over Marquez was indeed a close one. But it was not close enough to go Marquez’ way in the manner that Erik Morales’ win over Pacquiao was convincingly acceptable.
True, Marquez had had his moments, especially in the second and eight rounds when he connected several big shots at Pacquiao that would have put away lesser fighters. But these were not enough to negate the damage inflicted by Pacquiao on him.
That Pacquiao knockdown punch in the third round and another crushing left straight in the tenth round should be measured against those big shots of Marquez mentioned earlier.
Pacquiao was right in saying business is over with Marquez when asked if he would give the Mexican another rematch and a grudge fight.
Manny has outgrown his division and his ever growing body could no longer take the toll of keeping the weight limit. He has to move north of scales and trod a territory that could set another first in boxing and break his own record.
If Marquez wants another shot at him, let him follow Pacquiao in the lightweight class.
But make no mistake about it, Marquez is also one classy fighter and he belonged to the list of elite fighters who donned the mitts in pro boxing. After all, he was the avoided one by Morales and Barrera during the prime of their careers.
It took a Pacquiao to live up to the challenge. It took Pacquiao to strengthen that Marquez reputation.
But it also took a Pacquiao to prove that Marquez is not unbeatable as the Mexican thought he was.
Four knockdowns in two fights. No boxer has ever done that against Marquez.
A total of nine knockdowns scored against the Hall of Fame bound Mexican triumvirate of Morales (three), Barrera (two) and Marquez (four) is a feat that should not be sneezed at considering none of them has ever driven Pacquiao to canvass.
Marquez will just have to live with that.
If some viewed Manny’s victory as questionable, Marquez should also be blamed for failing to live up to his own expectations.
With those above arguments said, we rest our case.
Top photo: Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines trades punches with Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico, left, during the 12th round of their WBC super featherweight boxing match, Saturday March 15, 2008, at The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Pacquiao won by split decision. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
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