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Underdog Overnight?

By Trigo Egbegi
The popular boxing axiom that a fighter is as good as his last outing does not always work out in a champion’s favour. If this is true, Manny Pacquaio sees himself detached and plummeting from his lofty planetary rating to being a beatable earthling.

Until that night of November 12, Pacquiao was an irresistible name that had played an appreciable role in the re-establishment of boxing in the present-day social strata. The pocket-sized Filipino destroyer has come as a welcome candidate to save a sport in a manner not even the heavyweights have done. In an amazing exploit spanning the period 2008 till the fateful Saturday night, he had crammed a chestful of titles through seven weight classifications against the best available opposition.

Pacquiao was the automatic choice for the Pound-For-Pound nomenclature following the exit, temporarily, of Floyd Mayweather at the close of 2007. And he never disappointed. In three years Pacman ploughed through 14 opponents like an articulated truck out of control. It was the most spectacular run compiled by a mortal since the Pound-for-Pound title was created for the great Sugar Ray Robinson six decades ago.

That amazing run came to an unusual, unexpected splutter before million of TV viewers worldwide in Las Vegas against Mexico’s own Juan Manuel Marquez, as Pacquiao squeezed out a tight majority decision after 12 rounds.

Poor Pacquiao now has his hands full contending with all sorts of troubles from his supporters and detractors alike. A close acquaintance and supporter of the raging warrior was among frontline critics of the November 12 event who makes no qualms of his view that in the event of the eagerly awaited Pacman Vs Mayweather fixture holding today, the Filipino would be turned to mincemeat inside eight rounds.

SilverBird TV sports analyst Ladi Egbedire was no less vocal in his displeasure with the official ruling which favoured the champion and enabled him retain his WBO welterweight crown. Egbedire went on to lambaste existing pro boxing’s so-called technical scoring rule which overlooked the effective counterpunching strategy of Marquez in favour of Pacquiao’s direct frontal style.

Probably, William Emoni’s more direct contribution caught my fancy more than the dozen others who believe Marquez was a victim of the grievous injustice that characterizes the boxing sport. The learned gentleman is of the view that the most effective way to forestall a repeat of ring robbery – as demonstrated in Pacquiao Vs Marquez III of November 12 – is accepting only ex-boxers as eligible to be granted licenses as referees and judges. Emoni is equally convinced that only referees/judges with good boxing background stand to save fighters from the alarming rate of ring tragedies that smear the game.

Here again, Yours Truly cannot agree wholesale with the, howbeit excellent, submissions made by the aggrieved multitude of fans not in accord with the majority decision favouring Pacquiao. I’m in agreement that the Filipino (for all his brilliance) is a mere earthling who will meet his own Waterloo at the appointed moment.

But, I’m yet to be fully convinced – even allowing for the fact that I’ll be rooting for Mayweather to prevail – that Pacquiao will be mincemeat for eight rounds the contest will last. Pacman’s swarming, relentless style will provide more than a handful for any fighter of the modern era, Mayweather inclusive.

I do not subscribe to the controversy that greeted the decision. Two of the three ringside judges saw the event the way I did, too. But I concede the event to be such a close affair and would still not have raised a protest if the decision had gone Marquez way. It’s a contest that reminds fans of the unforgettable Marco Antonio Barrera Vs Erik Morales trilogy that remains debatable till this day – after more than a decade.

Of Barrister Williams and his direct submission, I have this to say. Professional boxing – for all its lofty status as one of the key frontline sports the world over – is one that is run and controlled mainly by personnel without the background he has mentioned. More times than once, events handled at the instance of officials with notable boxing backgrounds have flopped at the conclusion.

As for an all ex-boxers panel serving as referee/judges officiating a contest, my fear is that an overdose of heart, macho and survival instinct as against safety and commonsense – may compel such officials to watch fighters duel to the death. Ex-boxers are not in the best position to determine a fighter’s condition and halt the contest.

 


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