By Trigo Egbegi
BEING too good, in itself, can constitute serious danger. Especially when there’s a marked shortfall in the member of available candidates contending for the prize.
Manny Pacquiao is the superman of professional boxing today. He is the figure in whom every analyst of the sport find a ready sanctuary. And vindication for the most outrageous prognostications.
All pointing to the fact that he is there to deliver expectations that are not in alignment with the game.
Pacquiao is a living phenomenon whose ring exploits will be debated well into the next millennium. In winning 10 titles scanning seven different weight categories, and under no fewer than four global sanctioning organizations, the Filipino marvel has successfully dared and defied the two major cardinal rules that define modern-day pro boxing – size and weight.
Pro boxing stands the danger of becoming polarized on account of this lone pocket-sized warrior who, today, commands a far stronger presence than even the all-conquering Klitschko dynasty that owns the heavyweight division. In the books of the aforementioned analysts, both Vitaly and Wladimir would be underdogs in the event of an unlikely fixture versus Manny Pacquiao.
Today, even the world’s major sanctioning organizations are unable to discourage the otherwise unethical practice of a boxer abandoning weight to seek more lucrative paydays in higher classes.
This, perhaps, explains the feeble attempt to build, arguably, the world’s biggest sporting event in the week ending May 7, in Las Vegas where Pacman just had his latest romance with Shane Mosley. To hardcore followers of the game, Pacman Vrs Mosley turned out to be the no dice it was predicted to be, in terms of competitiveness.
The likes of the Pacquiaos sprout every once in a long while, bringing to mind Roberto Duran, Henry Armstrong and Stanley Ketchel. Each will be remembered eternally for the feature he so effectively branded. Yet, even as great as the three were, today’s Pacman is all three molded into one.
Duran is remembered for being the rough, mean brawler with the killer instinct, who rose through the ranks – beginning as a scrawny superfly in his native Panama, and terminating at 167 pounds – capturing the world lightweight, welter, super welter and middleweight titles, en route.
With sheer irresistible ring ferocity and guile, Duran decimated the entire 135Lb class between 1972 and 1978. But he registered his strongest presence in 1980 when he split a pair of wins with the celebrated Sugar Ray Leonard for the WBC welterweight crown.
And, although he did not carry his punch along with him all the way, Duran was still able to capture titles at super welter and middleweight.
Henry Armstrong was a fearless, forward-marching competitor who overwhelmed opponents by throwing punches without let. Such was his consuming work rate that between 1936 and 1940 Armstrong had won tittles in featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisiona to become boxing first triple title-holder.
He was a human windmill!
Middleweight Stanley Ketchel was a ruthless competitor who loved to settle his fights by knockout in the day’s title bouts went to no-decision rulings.
He had a number of notable mean men as rivals, though.
In October 1909, Ketchel carried his ego and confidence into a heavyweight title contest against the formidable Jack Johnson in Colma, even flooring the Galveston giant early. Such was his arrogance.
Johnson promptly returned the favour with a single right to the mouth that left his foe stretched out in the 12th round. Later two of Ketchel’s teeth were found embedded in Jack’s gloves.
The following year, Ketchel was shot dead by a farm-hand. Outside the ring Manny Pacquiao can pass for an innocent choirboy, who has gone on to earn further national recognition and respect by being elected into congress in his active Philippines.
In 2007, I met Pacman who obliged me with a group photograph of the NBB of C delegation to the WBC Annual Convention in Manila.
Pacquiao is a throw-back to all three heroes combined. In a career that has seen him notch a 53-3-2 slate, the squat Filipino southpaw hunted down most of his victims with the same cold, relentless, forward-marching aggression.
In-as-much as I would fancy his chances against any adversary at 147Lbs and below, I doubt that Pacquiao will have things all his way if and when he takes on Floyd ‘Pretty Boy’ Mayweather.
The accolades poured on Pacman were the same given the slick Pretty Boy when he was freely referred to as Top Pound-For-Pound fighter. Then was he good! Mayweather was truly the toast of the entire fight fraternity. Not a soul was in sight that could touch him.
Will Pacquiao plough through Mayweather same way he has done with all his victims these six years past?
Remember, many asked the same question before Bernard Hopkins went on to dismantle Felix Trinidad in 2002 for the former’s middleweight title.
Against Mayweather, I fear, the Filipino android will be baffled by the many angles he will encounter against a man who can beat his foe throwing punches moving backwards, coming forward or standing still.