What Does Pacquiao Have To Do to Silence His Critics? Part 1
By Joel Nepomuceno: You can’t please everybody”, and “Not everyone is going to like you”, are key words of wisdom that have been imparted to me since childhood. Truer words have never been spoken. Every one has a critic, and every one is not liked by all. These are the realities of life and they’re the reality of sports. The greatest athletes have all had their share of fans, but all also had their share of critics.
Tiger Woods has them. So did Michael Jordan. Muhammed Ali had more than just few. So it should come as no surprise that the current Pound for Pound King, and boxing’s current biggest star has his. On the surface, Manny Pacquiao is a humble, god-fearing man. Dig a little deeper, and he’s an icon in his country. He has no reservations carrying the weight of his entire country and the hope of his people on his shoulders for every fight. He gives the fans exactly what they come to see in each of his fights. He seems like a genuinely nice guy who fills an arena with excitement every time he fights, but he too, deals with his share of skepticism and critics.
I’m not talking about boxing fans or writers who judge a boxer by his country. I’m not referring to fans who only believe that great boxers can only come from where they, themselves, are from. I consider these groups more nationalists, who happen to be boxing fans. Regardless of what fighters from other nationalities accomplish, they are criticized regardless. Sometimes fairly, most times not. These are the writers and fans, who write that Manny is too one dimensional, or won’t have the game plan, or that he looks horrible in training, or he looks petrified at the weigh in, or that the other fighter is by far the best fighter that Manny Pacquiao has ever faced, then when Manny Pacquiao knocks out the other fighter in stunning fashion, make excuses such as the other fighter was weight drained (although they fought at the other fighter’s natural weight class), or he didn’t come in with the right game plan, or if they had a rematch the other fighter would win, etc. These guys have their minds set that only the boxers that come from their country are the only ones that deserve credit, and their mind is set. There’s no swaying these nationalist fans.
However, there are a few critics of Manny Pacquiao that use logic and reasoning for their skepticism for Manny Pacquiao. It’s not that they don’t think that Manny Pacquiao is an exciting fighter or they don’t enjoy his fights, but they feel that he’s over rated, or a product of the Bob Arum, HBO Hype Machine. These are the fans, that although, they may not agree that Manny Pacquiao is the pound for pound king, or that he’s an all time, great, they are the ones who stimulate intellectual debate. And without intellectual debate, then sports would be boring wouldn’t it?
From the articles I’ve read and the feedback that I’ve seen, the Pacquiao skeptics argue three main points when it comes to the Pac Man. First, they say that the only fighters that Pacquiao faces are either past their prime or they’re shot. Secondly, they get irritated about Pacquiao and Freddie Roach’s catchweight demands, and lastly, will argue until their faces are blue that Juan Manuel Marquez won both fights with Manny Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao has a resume of fighters that are sure Hall of Famers and number of them are on the All-Time Greats list. Marco Antonio Barrera, Eric Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton to name a few. He’s fought and beaten every one, but there is still skepticism in the validity of his wins. They say that both Marco Antonio Barrera and Eric Morales was past their prime. But they fail to recognize that both were rated very highly on most experts pound for pound lists.
Marco Antonio Barrera was past his prime, but they fail to mention that when he fought Manny Pacquiao for the first time in 2003 that he was only 29 and he had numerous exciting meaningful bouts after his initial defeat to Pacquiao. By the time Eric Morales had fought Manny Pacquiao, he had already been in too many wars they may claim, or he was already beaten by Marco Antonio Barrera. But what’s important to understand is that Marco Antonio Barrera is the only fighter that Morales lost to before Pacquiao. Does having too many wars make you a shot boxer? If it does, then does that mean that Manny Pacquiao is also shot because of his battles with Morales? Or his life and death twice with Juan Manuel Marquez? Has Manny Pacquiao been a shot boxer himself for the past five years? If those are the conditions of being a shot boxer, then you logically have to claim that Pacquiao is shot himself then, would you not?
The same case could be stated for his opponent in Ricky Hatton. They claim that Ricky Hatton wasn’t the same after his knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather, but weren’t most experts convinced that Ricky Hatton was back, new and improved, after his demolition of Pauli Malignaggi? Were these not the same critics who said Hatton would be too big for Pacquiao because he’s never been beaten at 140 lbs? Did they not claim that this was Ricky Hatton’s division and he was unbeatable at 140? Or they claim his punch resistance has been down since his knock out loss to Floyd Mayweather, but if knock outs lead to punch resistance declining, then can the same case be made for Manny Pacquiao? Should his punch resistance have gone down after his knock out losses over ten years ago? Has he been fighting all this time with a weak chin? Another claim that critics of Pacquiao make is that Hatton would have won if he would have gone in with the right game plan. If he would not have come in face-first, then the fight would have been different. But is this not the Ricky Hatton of old? Is this not how Ricky has defeated 45 other opponents?
Lastly, they claim that his fight with Oscar De La Hoya was completely over rated. I agree with them for the most part. But not because Oscar De La Hoya was weight drained. I feel he was past his prime and couldn’t pull the trigger any more. If Oscar De La Hoya himself, felt that he was weight drained, then one must ask the question, why retire? If that was the only reason for his loss to Manny Pacquiao, why did De La Hoya not fight again at his comfortable weight of 154? In my opinion, Manny Pacquiao would have also beat a De La Hoya at 154, because by the time Oscar De La Hoya fought Manny Pacquiao, he wasn’t able to pull the trigger. Freddie Roach knew it, and that’s why he took the fight, and Manny was well compensated for fighting a past his prime figher. However, it should be stated that a majority of the boxing world, fans and experts alike, did not give Manny Pacquiao a chance in the fight. They said that Oscar was too big and he would boss Manny around. But Manny accepted the fight none the less, which, in my opinion illustrates his courage. However, I would not count the De La Hoya win as one of his most significant achievements. The biggest name in boxing and the biggest name in Manny Pacquiao’s resume, yes. His most significant achievement, absolutely not.
All in all, there is no current fighter who has the extensive resume and list of future hall of fame fighters they’ve beaten, aside from, maybe, Sugar Shane Mosley, that Manny Pacquiao has. And for that, you have to give at least a little bit of credit where credit is due. Who can Manny Pacquiao fight to ease these skeptics? Floyd Mayweather Jr? Sugar Shane Mosley? Miguel Cotto? Ironically, these are the same fighters who the strongest possible opponents for him. And regardless of whether he ends up fighting these three or not, there will continue to be critics of his choice of opposition. However, looking back at the list of fighters that he’s already fought, is it hard to make a case that he has already had a great career worthy of Hall of Fame consideration?
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