Philippines, 27 Mar 2023
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Pacquiao Watch: The beginning of the end

Many boxing aficionados who watched Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s fight last Sunday are almost in agreement that the Filipino boxing icon has finally met his unbeatable nemesis – Father Time.
Even Manny himself admitted that despite summoning every strength from his 42 year-old legs, he was no longer able to will them to relive the old footwork that made many wonders in the past.

Manny’s nonpareil footspeed was what gave him the kind of leverage that enabled him to throw punches at different angles with incredible accuracy, power and speed.

Those punches were nowhere Sunday because those feet were almost planted on the canvas. The agility that was a marvel to many was simply not there anymore, exacerbated by the long two-year layoff from the ring.

Manny’s ageing process did not simply appear that fateful Sunday of August 22, 2021.

It began more than 10 years ago, in the closing rounds of his brutal annihilation of Antonio Margarito who was 5 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than him.

No, it was not the physical ageing. It was the decline of Pacquiao’s thought process as his generation’s most brutal if not methodical finisher.

In reviewing the fight tape, one will notice it was in the latter rounds when Pacquiao repeatedly glanced at referee Lawrence Cole with a look of a merciful appeal to stop the fight as Margarito’s face was turned into a bloody mess.

Pacquiao just coasted into victory after that fleeting moment that very few gave any significance.

After the Margarito fight, Pacquiao went on to continue boxing, accumulating 15 more bouts.

Unfortunately, it was also during this 15-bout cycle, across 10 years, that he lost 5 times, with losses in succession that included a knockout defeat from Juan Manuel Marquez. In that 15-fight period, Pacquaio won by stoppage only once when Lucas Mathyssee threw in the towel and refused to continue to fight after a 7th round knockdown.

While his loss to Timothy Bradley during the said period was controversial, he was clearly outclassed by PPV-rival Floyd Mayweather Jr, KO’d by Marquez and outboxed by Jeff Horn and Yordenis Ugas.

And while he was still competitive, Pacquiao nevertheless contented himself with workman like victories while pocketing the biggest purses of his career.

Those bouts were another day in the office for him.

Towards the tailend of that 15-bout run, the fights became fewer in between. In his prime, Pacquiao would fight at least 2 times a year.

In contrast, between 2000 to 2010, previous to the Margarito encounter, Pacquiao fought a total of 26 fights, three of them against Erik Morales, two each against Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez, once each versus Ricky Hatton, Juan Diaz, Oscar dela Hoya and Miguel Cotto, among others.

Many of these fights were spirited if not very hard fought. These undoubtedly took many snaps off Pacquiao’s competitive juices.

If I were to look at the beginning of the end, the high mark of Pacquiao’s tailspin career was his vicious beating of Margarito who was the tallest and heaviest he ever fought against.

Those late rounds of methodical administration of legalized torture took away his appetite for the kill.

Those sent signals down his muscle memories and those took their toll to his mindset.

It was the start of the downward spiral.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Edwin G. Espejo.

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