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By Mortz Marcelo Ortigoza

Pacquaio-Larios: Does an Upset Loom?
Sat, 17 Jun 2006

In the Mano-a-Mano between Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Oscar “Chololo” Larios, most Filipino boxing fans will root for the former. However, there are buffs here and abroad who would not discount the possibility of an upset. Like Murphy’s Law this fate happens to elite fighters.

One is Shane Mosley who was defanged by Winkey Wright—whose distinct staggering jabs and impregnable turtle shelled defense made the rapid firing Shane helpless. Wright was a nobody in America when he was selected in that tune-up fight by the matchmaker of Mosley--who was preparing to do his defining battle against the dangerous southpaw Tito Trinidad. Shane-Tito clash didn’t happen. But Winkey’s devastation of the popular Tito ensued. Another upset in boxing history.

Upset happened when Marco Antonio Barrrera trapped and pounced to smithereens the unbeaten and unpredictable Naseer “the Prince” Hameed. Same to Hasim Rahman who knocked out Lennox Lewis on their first fight, unknown Indonesian Chris John who decision Juan Manuel Marquez, Carlos Baldomir who shocked Zab Judah, Joe Calzaghe who dominated Jeff Lacy, these to name a few.

But the latest upset plus its dramatic statement I could not forget was when Zahir Raheem wept after he dismantled last year Erik Morales in a tune-up fight (for the latter’s preparation against his rematch with Pacman ). The former U.S Olympic medalist said: “I prepared and trained very hard for this fight…” knowing how formidable and great as a boxer Morales was.

On the phenomena I mentioned, this is my query: Can Larios heist an upset before the 20,000 zealous Pacquaio fans inside the Araneta Coliseum on July 2, 2006?

Dissecting the boxing background of the Mexican, one would find that the guy is no wimp. If Pacman is a former world title holder, Chololo is also a former world champion. If the General Santos City native has his 41-3-2, with 33 knockouts etched on his record, the Guadalajara denizen has his own 46-4-1, with 36 KOs. If Pac fought and humiliates elite fighters like Barrera, Marquez, and Morales, Chololo has his own version of difficult and tough fighters in the molds of Wayne McCullough, Israel Vasquez, Nedal Hussein and others.

While Chololo has the advantage of his looks, the camp of Pacman is unfazed because during Boxing Day, the former will have the same look with the latter. This because of FUBOR (a U.S Military jargon which means: F---k - Up Beyond Recognition) if he will not be careful about the Hiroshima’s version of an atomic bomb that will hail from the left hand of Manny.

While the Filipino is the favorite based on the recent 4-1 odds, Chololo will be the most motivated. He has nothing to lose but has a lot to gain since he will be paid a jackpot purse of $ 450,000. The biggest amount he will receive in his entire career from his being a lowly carpenter to a herky-jerky brawler. An amount bigger than the $50,000 dangled to him by the World Boxing Council to be a mandatory challenger to Israel Vasquez for a championship bout for the super bantamweight that happened just two weeks ago. He declined it, and instead accepted as an honor to be an opponent of the super featherweight pound-for-pound king Pacquiao.

Aside from being a dangerous mauler, Larios is considered a haymaker with the fastest hand on this trade. If he can shame the Filipino pug, he will not only become a superstar overnight, but will become big time mega bucks fighter in his future matches. Politicians and high rollers in Mexico will ingratiate with him. This is a tremendous power outside the ring. This was what happened after Pacquiao became famous. Every sycophant in the Philippines wanted to be identified with him. Wait after Pacman will triumph against the Mexican. Brace yourself as every political gorilla, chimpanzee, and orangutan will rush like current and climb the dais to be identified with the Filipino champ. These observations are enough for Larios to be hungry.

While Pacquaio was gracing social events and parties, shooting for his countless commercials up to the wee hours, boozing, playing billiard, and gambling as if there would be no tomorrow, Larios was ahead hitting the mitts and the road for the biggest fight of his life. But with all these early preparations, can he be versatile by rhythmically executing a fight plan that will puzzle The Pacman?

A fight plan executed ala Bernard ‘the Executioner” Hopkins who lately fought a classic intellectual fight against a southpaw Antonio “the Magic Man” Tarver. Where in the initial round resorted to hit and clinch. Thus disorienting the Magic Man, by the magic tricks being applied to him by the former felon. After the well executed clinically pr?cised genius mapped by Hopkins and his team, Tarver an Olympic gold medalist quipped: “After the first round, I knew something was wrong on this fight”.

Chinese Philosopher Sun Tzu’s quote from his opus the Art of War was all too fitting on this: ”If you want to keep the upper hand in any situation, you must remain a mystery to your enemies…”

Or, can Larios do what Jose Luis Castillo had done against Diego Corrales on their first two matches where Castillo elected to fight in a phone booth duello where only his hands and elbows as his cover to his chin and abdomen against the killer knockout punches (both hands) of Corrales . A close ranged bloody fight where experts believed lessened the power of the latter since it could not muster enough lethal strength because of space constraint.

Or the fight plan of Raheem against Morales where the former was like a Vietcong in a jungle warfare who hit, duck, and run with gusto as it left innumerable damages to the puzzled Morales. All the three classic tussles are case study for boxer who wants to exploit wit primordially than grit.

So therefore, can the handlers of Chololo unleash a masterpiece for the fight of their lives against the most dangerous boxer this planet presently produced?
We’ll see it next month.

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