Rise of the Pacquiao Phoenix
A long time ago there were allegations of a barroom brawl, set aside by Manny simply stating it was nothing more than a broken beer bottle…
“My strength is made perfect in weakness.”—Corinthians
About Time, A Bout Time
It will be here in less than month, this Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao vs. “Bam Bam” Rios bout. Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, who will be thirty-five this December, is closing in on his nineteenth year of professional boxing. Is it really five years past that the Pinoy pugilist pounded, pillar to post, into ring retirement, Champion Oscar De La Hoya, who the previous year had lost a very questionable split decision to Floyd Mayweather!
It does seem long ago, this De La Hoya bout, but then in a moment of boxing life five years is a long time unless the boxers name is Manny, in which case boxing is but a moment of life. Boxing moments have never encapsulated or all encompassed Manny Pacquiao’s life and this will serve him well in what most certainly is a must win fight!
Roach Wrong but Ready
I’m sorry Mr. Roach but Manny does not remotely resemble the Manny Pacquiao of yesteryear.
I recall ten years ago picking up the phone to call my brother after the first round of Manny’s first fight with the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera. “Turn on the fight Steve!” I hadn’t seen intensity like that since Duran (nor have I seen such intensity otherwise short of the late Edwin Valero). Round two of the Barrera fight concluded with a bombardment of Manny punches, body and head, to the count of one hundred and most of them were well placed power shots coupled with same time speed. It was a rare combination of power and speed exhibited. In round six Pacquiao was thumping hard shots to the body which could clearly be heard over the TV audio. In round eleven Pacquiao, by way of referee stoppage, finished Barrera on the ropes. When he had Barrera hurt, and on the ropes, there was no let up in the pounding he was providing. He had immense “killer instinct”; not the same this Manny Pacquiao, not the same at all!
It does seem a long time ago, that Barrera era, that a certain segment of Filipino guerrillas were threatening to kidnap Manny, who was constantly surrounded by six bodyguards, and it does seem a long time ago that there were allegations of a barroom brawl, set aside by Manny simply stating it was nothing more than a broken beer bottle! Yes, a long time, but a short time to come now to Bam Bam.
Can’t Come Back!
“The right hands of fellowship, ye are fallen from grace.”—Galatians
Much has been made of the destruction, physically and psychologically, of a fighter who has been knocked completely unconscious in a main event as Manny was against Marquez.
There is the thought that a boxer is not able to come back from such a conclusive concussive event. But that is a thought that, in common, should be taken to not apply in the case of exceptionally uncommon men. Such thoughts set as a rule are nonsense and Manny has publicly been the first to verbally invalidate such boxing mythology. Do we believe him? Absolutely! You should believe that Manny Pacquiao will not let the Marquez knockout affect his performance. Pacquiao has been monitored physically and is primed to fight. From a psychological standpoint he has been stopped previously, twice, albeit not in the Marquez fashion. One has to understand a portion of Manny’s psyche and that is the fact that to Manny’s mind such knockout “is just part of boxing.” The congressman from the Philippines does not let that “part of boxing” consume him like it has many previous pugilistic recipients of face first to the canvas disaster.
Historically speaking, the theory that a boxer does not come back from such knockout loss does not hold value. There is a long list of immediate and successful comebacks not the least of which includes the following:
1. Lennox Lewis being knocked flat by the Rock Rahman, only to return in an immediate engagement to knock the Rock off his block.
2. Joe Louis being flattened in his first fight with Schmeling and going on to have the most successful heavyweight championship reign in history.
3. Duran being put to sleep by a Hearns right hand, only to return to win the middleweight title against Iran Barkley, the same man who, in his previous fight had stretched Thomas Hearns in the third round. And for that matter, Hearns, having been stretched by Barkley, going on to win super middleweight titles and light-heavyweight titles.
4. Floyd Patterson having been dropped seven times in his fight with “Ingo” and coming back to become the first man to regain the Heavyweight Championship with that huge left hook.
I Feel Good
Over at the PhilBoxing.com website the article titles of the past few weeks bode well for a Pacquiao in full swing training: “Pacquiao punishes two sparring partners,” “Pacquiao ahead of schedule,” “Pacquiao feels like he’s twenty-five.” These and various other titles suggest that we will see a very substantial and formidable fighter, one that we have perhaps not seen to the fullest the past few fights.
Life of course works its roadmaps in strange ways. The Ring Magazine reports the following this month that “Sources close to Top Rank, his (Pacquiao’s) promoter, have told the Ring that he (Pacquiao) asked for a two million dollar advance on his undisclosed purse for Rios.” In another boxing cliché, it may not be the best motivation for an older boxer to strictly step into the ring for Dollars only, but one expects that there is a great more than only Dollars involved in this fight. In Pacquiao’s mindset no doubt there is a driving force beyond dollars and what makes sense is redemption from his face first folly last fight.
The boxing business landscape changes course drastically. One only need look the past few weekends ago at the Bradley vs. Marquez fight and where one fighter stands on the bartering table.
Don’t believe that old Roger Whitaker song of “I Don’t Believe in If Anymore.” If Manny looks the destructive force of old, and if Floyd Mayweather runs out of enticing opponent options, for you and I are to be sent a Khan otherwise, then the “If” horizons may open up to a later next year huge fight extravaganza.
There couldn’t be a more cinematic life story than Manny’s; poor kid from the streets, a penny less that to his pocket, comes to America, not only makes financially good, but also becomes an International Icon not only as a boxer but as a public figure and politician. In the cinematic cliché version the hero always ends up on top. Will Manny show victorious against Rios? Is Manny the “hero?” Is there a “hero?” Is there ever a “hero” in this business of boxing?
Ice and Easy
Frank “the Bear” touched base the other day. You may not recall Frank, he is the brick laying boxing “expert” who is now 12-0 in big fights, having picked Bradley over Marquez.
Pick ‘em “Bear” Frank emailed and phoned in at his best: “Counselor,” he said, “let me tell you that Champion Manny is going to rise up from the ashes like that ancient Greek Phoenix bird who keeps regenerating. Hell, given Manny’s whole life background, he’s probably regenerated, and reborn, umpteen times already. That’s probably the way he looks at it.”
Frank carried on as follows: “He’s going to rise up and beat the hell out of ‘Bam Bam.’ Manny will be highly motivated and a part of him is going to be pissed of being hammered from one post to the next, by the way of the various reactions, media wise, to his last loss—lotta people laughing behind his back—lotta fucked up photo comedy imagery of Manny laying face first. Trust me kid, there’s not going to be any Justin Bieber like entry music of ‘One Less Lonely Girl.’ This one will be Manny entering to some smack-assed ‘We Came to Crush’ or some old-fashioned The Who ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’ You like that music stuff eh Kid. Aside from all that Kid (Schmidt) just take a really good hard look at Rios who gets boxing fan love as the warrior that he is. The truth is he’s never been in the ring with the grade of this type of fighter. Rios is substantially slow footed and is fighting a guy in Manny who has exceptionally fast in and out footwork. Lastly, I make this comment surprisingly, given that Rios is trained by a top-notch guy, but the simple fact is that Mr. Brandon, as evidenced in his last fight with Alvarado, does not have a clue how to cut off the ring. There is one hell of a difference Kid (Schmidt) from following a guy around the ring as opposed to horizontally moving with him and then cutting him off. Want to see it done right? Then go watch some George Foreman films. Foreman may have had a lot of deficiencies but working his man, one way or the other, to the ropes was not one of them. Ice and Easy Kid (Schmidt). Manny is going to get hit, he’s going to have his bruising, but fast in and out movement and hand speed…he can make it Ice and Easy if he wants and if he fights smart, and that’s what he wants…Ice and Easy!”
Our Dear “Bear” may suffer his first “one.” Where Brandon Rios is concerned there’s always of Ice and nothing is ever easy. The fights are nice but there’s never anything easy in boxing. Even the “easy” isn’t nice!
Great Champions, like great Artists, have ways of rising up and producing back of memory current “magic.” They believe in themselves, and in their magic, for they have produced such before. There is ingrained confidence of magic born of pre-production many times over. It makes a Champion believe, like yesteryear, in themselves and their ability to make something big happen instantaneously.
Old promoters, like great Artists, take what was yesteryear, something ordinary, and make it something magically extraordinary. There’s an opponent, slow of foot, but hellacious of intent as a warrior. There’s a comeback megastar. There is the excitement and broad expanse of a new untapped promotional country and Venue. There will be “magic.”
The lights will go down in the arena before this big fight, the speakers will be turned up, and a giant TV screen above will come on with Top Rank’s “This Is Boxing – Legends of the Ring” video. I was playing it the other night as Uncle Steve walked down the law office corridor and stuck his head in to watch. “That’s awesome! You know when you watch that and you watch all those legends, boy, when its’ done right it’s still the best sport ever!” That was Uncle Steve’s comments and they speak for themselves. As the video ends Howard Cosell’s voice, in a fit of excitement will exclaim, “Oh that left, it floored him, it came from nowhere, Ali is the winner…” Don’t close your eyes, for good magic, great magic, is something not seen every day and is easily missed. “If” the boxing landscape readjusts late next year, the glory yet of this era’s best magicians, Mayweather and Pacquiao…!