PACQUIAO WATCH: Is Manny 'lightweight'?
By Edwin G. Espejo
24 Jun 2008
OUTSIDE of the boxing world parlance, a lightweight means – well – a lightweight. One that is to be taken seriously. Pales in comparison with the biggies.
But when you go by the name of Manny Pacquiao, nobody will take you lightly.
Pacquiao owns one of the meanest left straights in the boxing world today. In fact, he is now atop the list of many scribes' pound for pound list.
On June 28 (Sunday Philippine time) he will gun for the World Boxing Council lightweight crown of David Diaz.
It is a territory Manny have never treaded before, having earned his fearsome reputation by knocking out senseless opponents in the light flyweight, flyweight, bantamweight and featherweight divisions and in the process capturing three world boxing lineal crowns.
On Sunday, he will be up against a champion who used to toil in the welterweight class but had to move down the lightweight division to earn a crack at a title.
On paper, Manny should be the underdog.
But the betting odds in the City of Sins of Las Vegas placed him a prohibitive 4-1 favorite based on Pacquiao's sterling ring record of 46 wins, three losses and a draw with 35 knockout victories in his credit.
Many have conjured scenarios where both fighters could emerge victorious but two lingering questions for Manny Pacquiao will have to be answered during fight night.
One, will Pacquiao be able to absorb punches from a decidedly bigger man and, two, will his vaunted power and speed go along with him when he moves up (again!) in weight.
Reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight king Gerry Peñalosa swore Manny hits like his father, former welterweight boxer Carl Peñalosa.
That was when the two would spar together during their younger days when both were in the lighter divisions.
Gerry grew just a handful of pounds since then but Manny have added up more than 30 pounds since he turned professional.
Manny has never been knocked down since campaigning in the featherweight and super featherweight classes where heavy handed hitters in the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and Oscar Larios tasted at least two knockdowns each from the Filipino southpaw.
But Manny's last two fights, against Barrera and Marquez, all went the distance which led many to believe that his power has also waned in adding up some weight.
On the flipside, it can also be argued that Barrera and Marquez were both tactical fighters who had already met Pacquiao before and were therefore already wary of the Filipino's piston like punches.
The two undoubtedly avoided trading bombs in the middle of the ring against Manny.
But against Diaz, Manny will encounter a bullying fighter who does not know the meaning of retreat and whose punch rate is as voluminous as Manny's but only a tad slower.
Diaz's plodding and swinging styles may be perfect fits to Manny's powerful punches.
But will Manny be able to maintain his excellent lateral movement and tremendous speed to get out of harm's way?
Will Manny be able to establish himself early to bring the message to Diaz that his punches are as heavy as a sledge hammer?
That we are going to see this Sunday.
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