Class Warfare

By David Matthew on November 25, 2013
Class Warfare
It wasn't Manny’s class as an elite, upper-echelon fighter that made the biggest impression.

It appears Pacquiao has regained just enough of his pugilistic sorcery such that the prospect of a fight with Mayweather is once again intriguing, if not imperative…

Manny Pacquiao isn’t what a lot of people want him to be. Freddie Roach wants him to be more aggressive and less compassionate in the ring. His wife Jinkee thinks he should be more religious, and retire from boxing. Fighters are often annoyed at his laissez-faire, smile-in-the-face-of-danger approach that festers no animosity towards his opponents. He refuses to talk trash, or to degrade other fighters. His casual, perma-smile approach to the sport has made some question his commitment level to fighting. For all the criticism around him—Manny has always been consistent in one respect: He is all class, all of the time, and while he is an exceptional fighter, he is seemingly an even better person.

After dominating Rios for 12 brutal rounds, Pacquiao was strikingly complimentary of the man he had just methodically destroyed. “This was one of the toughest fights of my career,” explained Manny after the fight. “He (Rios) hit me with some good, solid punches.” Then, in a response to Max Kellerman about the scuffle with Alex Ariza and Freddie Roach, Manny refused to take shots, instead smiling and saying, “Let’s give credit to Alex Ariza. His fighter is a very strong fighter. We are all brothers and sisters after the fight.”

After being knocked out by Marquez in as shocking of a manner as possible, Manny also smiled and gave credit to his rival, saying “Great for him. He caught me.” After the injustice done to him versus Bradley, Manny didn’t complain. He congratulated Bradley as if it was a legitimate win, regardless of the fact that he won that fight and was robbed. That’s just who Manny is, and it may not be the best approach for him as a fighter, but his amenable personality reflects his belief in fighting for something greater than boxing. Further, even though his 2007-2011 glittery dominance of multiple weight-classes is now more recent vintage than current event, Pacquiao is still a dominant force in the sport, and he made it abundantly clear that he has a lot more in the tank than most thought was possible.

Pacquiao entered the ring against Rios in typical fashion, detached from the circus around him, and honing in on some different frequency that allows him to prepare for combat in a calmly focused manner. While some fighters tap into their inner-anger, Pacquiao fights with such a controlled fury that it never seems as if he allows unbridled anger to seep into his skin. That said, Manny is far from pacifist when he enters that ring. This frequency of calm also enables him to cyclone off combinations in the eye of the storm, steering the tornado in heated exchanges with uncanny calm. Indeed, there were moments against Rios where Manny showed flashes of his absolute peak brilliance, finding that place in between utter rage and serenity that few can harness in the heat of the moment. He has found his legs again and is back to flurrying with blinding combos, and deftly turning opponents before they know what hits them. Rios would get blasted with multi-punch combos all night, and then by the time he came up for air, Manny was gone, already setting up another assault with scientific footwork and abstract angling. This version of Manny is markedly better than the stationary, undertrained, leg-cramped Manny who fought Mosley and Bradley in relatively tepid, pedestrian fights. 

While some suspected the 34-year-old might be shot coming into this fight, fresh off of a lights-out knockout at the hands of Marquez, Manny picked up right where he left off in that fight. Before being knocked out, Pacquiao had gone into overdrive, blitzing Marquez and badly hurting him, very close to scoring his own stoppage. In fact, for a few rounds it was the most dominant Pacquiao had ever been against Marquez for a sustained period throughout their four-fight rivalry. Against Rios, one couldn’t help—for at least a few moments—to think that indeed, Manny is back.

It wasn’t Manny’s class as an elite, upper-echelon fighter that made the biggest impression on me Saturday night—it was his class as a human being. While so much was made of the pre-fight theatrics where Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza exhibited low-class behavior, fueling their bitter grudge—it was Manny who calmed the fires, and his golden-rule approach has even warmed up to the usually caustic Rios, who had nothing negative to say about Pacquiao either before or after the fight. During the fight, Rios was taking a relentless beating, round after round. By the 12th, he was spent and his face was barely holding up to the pressure, swollen to Frankenstein-like horror. Early in the final round, Pacquiao landed yet another blistering combination, and Rios was ready to go. His legs wobbly, his face broken down, Rios ate the combination but he was largely defenseless and holding on to nothing but pride at this juncture of the fight. It is in these kinds of fights—when a fighter’s pride and chin won’t allow him to be stopped—where the most lasting neurological damage is often absorbed by a fighter too brave for his own good, fighting for a corner that should’ve already stopped the fight. Referee Genaro Rodriguez was barely present, and it was clear he would not put a halt to the action. The only person who could stop the thudding was Manny—but he didn’t end the fight like most fighters would. Instead of turning on the fires and finishing Rios off, Manny backed off, touched gloves about five times, and smiled at Rios as if to say, “We’re just going to finish the fight like we are sparring, okay?” Manny was still fighting, but he took all of the mustard off his shots, going through the motions as his appetite for destruction had expired, and he simply did not want to continue disfiguring Rios.

“You know, I had entertained the fans by the 12th round. Boxing isn’t about killing each other”, explained Pacquiao after the fight. After the final bell, Pacquiao hugged Rios, walked over to Garcia and Ariza, and paid his respects to what he regarded as a “great team.” He had shown mercy to Rios, a man who vowed to end Pacquiao; a man who wanted nothing more than to decapitate Pacquiao and badly hurt him via brutal knockout. This is what makes Pacquiao’s approach powerful—he had the ability to finish Rios—and likely could have. However, he pulled back—much as he did against Margarito when he basically pleaded for the ref to stop the fight. It is one thing when one talks about peace in an environment where nobody is trying to exert violence unto them. It is something entirely different when a man, fighting for his life in the squared circle, armed with all the power, tools, and craftsmanship to render you knocked out cold decides that he wants to spare a warrior who would not afford him the same compassion. But Manny Pacquiao is an entirely different type of warrior and human being—unlike any other we have seen in boxing. He also is still the best welterweight in the world not named Floyd Mayweather. Now that Mayweather has dispatched virtually all other viable opponents, we are once again faced with the obvious truth: Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao is once again the biggest fight in boxing that can be made—and it appears Pacquiao has regained just enough of his pugilistic sorcery such that the prospect of a fight with Mayweather is once again intriguing, if not imperative.

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Manny Pacquiao vs Brandon Rios Full Fight 2013 Highlights HD

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios full post fight press conference video full HD

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  1. Jack 10:23am, 11/28/2013

    David, a very astute and insightful article!! Good posts by everyone, especially the “Regulars”, Pete, CG, Irish and Irish, Ted and Kid. I haven’t seen the fight in HD yet, but I will try and exhibit the same class as Manny and not comment on where I think he might be in relationship to a fight with Floyd. Enjoy Thanksgiving if you celebrate the holiday.

  2. Pete The Sneak 09:21am, 11/28/2013

    You want Class, I’ll give you class. I remember shortly after Pac Man’s vicious KO of Hatton, back in the locker room Manny’s entourage were celebrating and began derisively mimicking/singing the chants of Hatton’s British fans who would attend all Hatton fights. Manny, seeing that the cameras were about to capture this scene immediately told his people to cease this display. Asked afterwards about this, Manny said it was disrespectful to both Hatton and his countrymen to broadcast this. It’s one thing to do/say things in private, but Pac Man would not publically allow his opponent to be made fun of, particularly by his own team. Class indeed…Peace.

  3. Jeremy Stokes 11:38pm, 11/27/2013

    Very nice article pac man is my favorite fighter, he is not only my favorite because of his skill in the ring but because of the person he is outside of the ring. I think who you are in the ring is just as important as who you are outside the ring!

  4. Rey 05:05am, 11/27/2013

    Great article Mr. David Matthew! You’ve seen something that only a person with a keen eye and a bright mind can see. You are a gifted writer with so much wisdom.

  5. nwo 02:19am, 11/27/2013

    the greatest ambassador the sport had.. manny pacquiao!

    cant believe i would see one.. so ironic..

    a sport where people get killed.. a sport where most are trying to take the heads off their opponent..

    this is something! manny has achieve no one had done in the past and only several did attempt!..

    people’s champ indeed..

    i thought manny running as a politician was a joke..
    cant blame me.. he prove me otherwise..

    goodluck manny!!!

  6. regina 07:09pm, 11/26/2013

    Humanity in the cruel world of boxing.

  7. derick guardiana 05:59pm, 11/26/2013

    I salute the writer of this article. The observation is as clear as crystal the way he described pacquiao’s personality inside and outside the ring. That makes a great fighter even more greater.. I am not a rios’ fan but i also salute him by not talking trash things to pacman. he’s really a tough hombre. As i have seen in an interview with one of the reporters, he can’t help the emotion of being beaten by pacquiao and he cried. but i can see he will bounce back too with more experiences he learned from fighting the pacman.

  8. Mar Berdin 05:18pm, 11/26/2013

    Very nice article!. Thanks David.

  9. guestors 12:28pm, 11/26/2013

    remember when he dropped david diaz? he pulled diaz hand so diaz can get up

  10. kid vegas 11:14am, 11/26/2013

    Well done

  11. Victor Odarve 08:02am, 11/26/2013

    I think the writer is right. Pacman is really what he is.  Boxing is just his way of life. He is compassionate as was shown in his previous fights. That makes him unique to other fighters. This is what a boxer should be.
    I am proud of him being a Pinoy!

  12. Frank Delgado 07:51am, 11/26/2013

    Totally, refreshingly interesting for a boxing article. It’s like storytelling a heroic and a too good to be true action-drama-fantasy fiction character came to life.

  13. Joey 07:36am, 11/26/2013

    That was a moving article Mr.Matthew, it warms the heart. Yeah come to think of it, what other boxer/fighter would show that compassion to his opponent who’s hell bent to hurt and humiliate him. That’s what make Manny Pacquiao special, a rare gem in boxing. We are all blessed to be in his generation. He’s a wonderful human being.

  14. Ezra 07:19am, 11/26/2013


  15. bob 06:54am, 11/26/2013

    It’s refreshing to read an article like this.

  16. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:46am, 11/26/2013

    David Matthew-I really enjoyed this article….which reminds me…...the smile is real….it’s not an affectation and it’s not a snarling, snarky ass, grimace masquerading as a smile like those flashed by Mayweather and Broner. I don’t claim to be prescient but here’s an outcome that my Jagerbombed mind tells me is preordained…..Manny will defeat Mayweather and become President of the Philippines within ten years.

  17. Ted 06:17am, 11/26/2013


  18. Pete The Sneak 05:59am, 11/26/2013

    Dave, what a great write up and spot on assessment of Pac Man as well as the Rios fight. An absolute true warrior fighter and champion who is humble, dignified and respectful of even the most crass and trash talking opponents. Yeah, I too saw that Pac man was holding back at the end of the fight when he could have easily gone all out to finish Rios. Not exactly what you teach your fighters to do, however that’s Manny in a nutshell. He (Manny) reminds me a lot of the Yankees (now retired) great closer Mariano Rivera. A man who merely comes in to do his job without all the theatrics of other closers. He totally blows you away in explosive fashion and then afterwards never a deragatory word about his opponents or anyone. As for Floyd? The Manny we saw boxing a slow footed Rios would have a more difficult time against Mayweather. But honestly? He still demonstrated the speed and skills that I think can frustrate Floyd and I believe it was a Poster named Galvar who said ” Can you imagine how crazy it would be if he and Mayweather actually fought and Manny out boxes Floyd?”...Yes, it would be. But I got a hunch FMJ saw that as well and will find some BS excuse not to make the fight…Peace.

  19. NYIrish 05:55am, 11/26/2013

    Manny can throw em faster than Rios can see em. This was a tune up fight for Pac.

  20. Clarence George 04:51am, 11/26/2013

    Solid observations.  Despite his (perhaps temporary) apostasy, Manny remains a Catholic at heart.  He turns the other cheek…and he’s also pretty good at turning the other guy’s head with his fist.

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