Manny and Canelo Could Have Fought Ten Years Ago But...
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Thu, 13 May 2021
Manny Pacquiao was among the very first personalities who greeted Saul Canelo Alvarez in his recent victory over Billy Joe Saunders that put him just one title shy of overall domination of the super middleweight class.
"And still... congrats, Canelo" Manny tweeted minutes after Canelo secured an 8th round TKO win over Saunders that added the Briton's WBO belt to the WBC and WBA titles he won last year from another UK fighter Callum Smith.
Perhaps Manny and his multitudes of fans may be wondering what could have been had Manny and Canelo fought nearly ten years ago at super welterweight.
Actually, Canelo succeeded Manny as WBC super welterweight champion in 2011 when Manny vacated the said title after winning it in September 2010, establishing a still standing eight world boxing championships won in as many weight classes.
Manny outpointed another Mexican, Antonio Margarito, breaking his orbital bone in the process, for the title left vacant by Sergio Martinez when he won the middleweight crown and opted to stay at the new weight. However Manny by February 2011 also opted to move back down to the welterweight, saying the 154 lbs class was too high for him.
Canelo won the vacant title, his first world crown, by outclassing then European welterweight champion Matthew Hatton, also the first of a line of Britons he would face and beat on the way for his current harvest of world boxing titles.
Manny proceeded to further enhance his reputation the same year by taking on and defeating ex welterweight and super welterweight world titlist Shane Mosley and old nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in their third meeting at welterweight.
At around that time, Floyd Mayweather nixed a $65 million offer by a Singaporean group to stage a Mayweather versus Pacquiao fight, one of the serious efforts to realize that fight since initial talks failed in 2010.
Then from out of the blue came the $65 million offer of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim for Manny to fight Canelo in Mexico "for the sake and benefit of millions of Mexican fans who wanted to see Manny fight there."
Slim's offer was made through a phone call to then Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Chavit Singson, a known friend, supporter and confidante of Pacquiao. Most likely, Slim figured that if $65 million was not good enough for Floyd, the amount would be enough to lure Manny to fight in Mexico.
Gov Singson and Manny made known the offer to Bob Arum, owner of the Top Rank Promotions to which Pacquiao was signed up and which had the say to who and where he would fight.
The Slim offer called for a fight most likely against Canelo in Mexico the following year, 2012.
But it appeared that Arum had another plan for Manny for 2012, chief of which was still the pursuit of a more lucrative Mayweather fight. And Arum was also building up another boxing star in light welterweight king Timothy Bradley.
The main thing was even in the face of a sizeable offer, Arum was an incurable control freak, the very issue that prompted Oscar de la Hoya earlier and Floyd Jr later to bolt out of Top Rank. Arum would only be amenable to a fight if he will dictate who to fight and when and where it will be held.
Complicating matters was the fact that Canelo was under Golden Boy Promotions which is owned by Oscar de la Hoya, one of Arum's pet peeves. Any agreement could be reached only after a lot of acrimonious and contentious discussions.
So the long and short of it was nothing happened.
The pursuit of Floyd remained far off the horizon and that being so, Manny was left with no other options in 2012 than fights with Bradley and later, another go against Juan Ma Marquez, both he would uncharacteristically lose, the first by a robbery of a split decision, losing his WBO welterweight title and the second by a huge upset by knockout. It proved to be a bad year with Manny suffering the only back-to-back defeats in his entire career.
Had Manny then had a bigger say, perhaps things would have been different, with possible repercussions to Canelo's career and standing today.
Despite Manny's earlier pronouncements about fighting beyond the welterweights, we know for a fact that Manny especially then still at the height of his strongest prime, did not shun any opponent.
He gave a hellish beating to Margarito who in 2010 remained a popular formidable fighter that the WBC thought of him than Canelo-- who at that time was already a WBC international titlist-- as the fighter to battle Pacquiao for its vacant super welterweight crown.
Really, if one will look at the comparative resumes of Margarito and Canelo between 2008 and 2010, the former had the more impressive credentials. Margarito, although with a loss, had prominent guys as Kermit Cintron, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley in his list as compared to Canelo's Carlos Baldomir and Jose Cotto and Lovemore Ndou.
Had Arum, and perhaps Freddie Roach been receptive and cooperative in 2011 and found the way to realize Carlos Slim dream of having a Pacquiao-Canelo bout in Mexico, what would have happened?
Note that in 2012, Manny was just 32 years old and still in his prime, though arguably his strongest was between 2008-2010. Without doubt, 2012 as it actually turned out was just a freak year for Manny.
By comparison, Canelo was only 20 years old, still far off to his development years, between 2014-2017 after the traumatic defeat to Floyd in 2013.
Manny was still a dervish, known for his speed, awkward angled attack, voluminous two fisted punching, intelligent boxing and most importantly, maturity inside and even outside the ring. Some claim he had mellowed and lost his killer's instinct but he remained a murderous puncher with very solid whiskers. He definitely would have the decided advantage in experience, especially in high pressure championship fight.
Though taller, heavier and stronger physically not necessarily in punching sock, Canelo by 2012 was still raw, a work in progress. He was also more of a plodder still learning how to cut the ring. Then as now, he has problems dealing with stick and move guys. His punching accuracy was also not that good. He was notorious for his stamina issues. I would say that Tony Margarito at comparable age or stage in career was better and deadlier.
Manny by 2012 had gone through the likes of Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Tony Margarito, Shane Mosley and JuanMa Marquez who were better than those Canelo had faced and beaten as Luciano Cuello, Jose Cotto, Baldomir, Ndou, Matthew Hatton and Ryan Rhodes.
Given these, I would say that Manny could have been the first to beat Canelo on points had they actually fought in 2012, perhaps in a compromise place closest to Mexican border.
Arum would not allow the fight to take place in Mexico where hometown advantage would have played a role in the officiating and judges decision, never mind if it would have been an all American set of ring officials.
Floyd was right in choosing the proper time to fight Canelo--- when he was still very young and raw in 2013.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
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