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The Manny Pacquiao Wars Part II: Rise of the Player Haters

cotto29By Steve Lewis: Previously, I had written about the common post-Pacquiao fight phenomenon called “Monday Morning Quarterbacking.” There is also another sister effect to Monday Morning Quarterbacking. It has been part of our landscape since time immemorial. It is what is referred to by the newer generation as “player hating,” which is often defined as the disliking, resenting, or disapproving of a person due to his/her success or coveted assets. The term “player hater” is often associated with those who are jealous or envious of someone else’s achievements.

Whether it is a frivolous and unsubstantiated claim of steroid use, or claims that Manny Pacquiao drains out opponents, or that he avoids fighters of a particular nationality, or that he plain lacks the skills of a true pugilist, people who make such criticisms often have an agenda. And one will be hard-pressed to be objective and unbiased when there is an agenda dictating how they view and perceive things.

It is often baffling why such a nice, humble, yet exciting fighter like Manny Pacquiao would be a target of player haters. He does not have the same self-aggrandizing pomp and brash personality of a Floyd Mayweather, nor the verbal antics of a Ricardo Mayorga, but for some reason, Pacquiao is an easy target. For the fan base of other fighters out there, it is perhaps the product of their disdain for Pacquiao’s rabid fan base and fanatical following, rather than due to Pacquiao himself. Now every major fighter has their legion of followers, but be that as it may, that is no reason to hate on the man himself. One needs to separate the “idol” from the “idolaters.” Those are two separate entities.

But for other fighters, trainers, or promoters who player hate, theirs is due to something much more concrete: the pursuit of the almighty buck! Now money is not the only thing. Reputations and one’s place in the sports landscape and hierarchy factor in.

Nate Campbell: It has already been well documented that Nate Campbell had always desired a match against Pacquiao. Join the long list of those wanting to strike it rich in the Pacquiao sweepstakes. What differentiates Campbell as a Pacquiao player hater from all other would-be challengers is that Campbell does not primarily focus on his own attributes as a challenger, but rather downplays and belittles Pacquiao’s attributes as an opponent instead. It’s a classic “I-don’t-want-you-to-focus-on-my-shortcomings-so-let-me-deflect-the-attention-elsewhere” routine.

Others like Edwin Valero will not say, “Pacquiao sucks.” But rather Valero makes a case for himself by citing his punching power as a possible factor in defeating Pacquiao. The same with Shane Mosley. He does not demean Pacquiao in trying to land a match against him, but rather cites to his size, speed and championship experience to prove his worth.

So Nate Campbell’s grandstanding does not get taken seriously, particularly with the irresponsible use of the race card and claims that Pacquiao does not fight people at their own weight. Well, guess what? Pacquiao does not fight at his own weight either! Who knows what weight class he really belongs in? Is he a junior welter or a welterweight? Or is he just a bulked up lightweight? We’re not sure! So these justifications by Campbell is without much merit. Ivan Calderon can balloon all the way up to cruiserweight and challenge Vitali Klitschko at a catch-weight at the cruiserweight limit, and if Calderon pummels Klitschko to a bloody pulp, Campbell would probably say that Calderon did not beat Klitschko at his natural weight (heavyweight), rather than marvel at the fact that a way smaller guy went up in weight and beat a bigger man. That is what is referred to as a “lack of perspective.”

And as a side note, as I see this constantly out there, 147 pounds is the welterweight MAXIMUM LIMIT. It does not mean that you have to weigh in at 147 to be a welterweight! All that is required for one to be a welterweight is to weight above 140 pounds, and no more than 147. So many people cannot grasp this concept of a weight ceiling. 147 is max, not a minimum. If the argument was “Allow a welterweight to max out at the limit if he wants to,” then fine. But get the concepts straight.

And arguments about weight drain are overly exaggerated anyway. If Miguel Cotto were asked to fight at lightweight or even at jr. welter, then yes. There may be some merit there. But remember, Pacquiao did not have to do anything for Cotto. Pacquiao could have easily said, “Hey, Miguel. Want in on the Pacquiao sweepstakes? You come down to my division at 140.” But he didn’t. Instead, Pacquiao decided that he would be the one to climb up to welterweight, with the concession that Cotto come in one pound under what he previously came in at (which was 146 for the Joshua Clottey fight). Was that an unreasonable request? It was probably unnecessary, but was it unreasonable? If that extra one pound was make-or-break for Cotto, then that’s an indication of bigger problems. As I have said in football, if you can’t get a 1st down on 4th and inches, you probably don’t deserve to win anyway.

Paulie Malignaggi: Another example of a fighter who is proven wrong one too many times, and has to find a reason as to why he gets debunked constantly. Malignaggi predicted a Pacquiao loss in both the Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto fight. Both predictions missed their mark. But to rationalize and justify his gross miscalculation, he implicitly attributes it to something sinister instead: steroids (and then cowers behind a disclaimer that he’ll “leave it at that”). And you can lump in the Mayweathers among this group. How could they be so wrong in their assessment of Pacquiao? “Well, it must be something like steroids because I can’t possibly be that off, can I?”

It should be noted that Malignaggi lost to both Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton. And for him to witness the spectacular dismantling of those two by Pacquiao leaves Malignaggi in quandary, because where does that put him in relation to Pacquiao? Afraid perhaps to realize that Pacquiao is light years ahead of him, it is easier to dismiss it by alleging steroid use as a way to explain the unpalatable (which the Nevada State Athletic Commission has already confirmed that Pacquiao is clean). Malignaggi goes the extra mile in belittling the NSAC’s testing procedures, stating how it’s easy to beat the tests. Now that’s really grasping for straws. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

All other boxers who still think that Pacquiao’s achievements are not all that special: let us see you do better. One would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the current top-10 super featherweight or lightweight division who can legitimately beat Miguel Cotto, even at a 145 lb catch-weight. Find me a flyweight champion or contender who you think has a legitimate shot at a world welterweight title a decade down the line.

Just last calendar year, 2008, Pacquiao was fighting in the super featherweight division before his ascent up the ranks. So it’s not like Pacquiao has had much time to settle above 130. In 2009, he captures the WBO welterweight title. Can Humberto Soto or Robert Guerrero take out Cotto at 145 lbs? How about Juan Manuel Marquez? We saw how ineffective he was above 140. Or how about Nate Campbell himself? The same guy who has twice lost to Robbie Peden, fell short against Isaac Hlatswayo, lost to Francisco Lorenzo, and battled Edelmiro Martinez to a draw in 2003 (so he can’t say he was a skinny teenager back then).

In other words, only a rare specimen like Pacquiao can do what he achieved. The guy debuted as a straw-weight and is now a welterweight champion, for goodness sake. And he didn’t squeak points-wins against De La Hoya, Hatton, and Cotto either. He knocked those guys around and scored TKO wins against all three! And it’s too bad that a good number of people lack the perspective to appreciate such a feat. Of course, some have to in order to protect their claim as the better fighter (Mayweather), or for strictly financial reasons (Campbell), or simply because they can’t explain and accept that someone could be that good (Malignaggi). Then there are those, who, in today’s age of pseudo journalists/internet bloggers, just like to stir up the pot and see people become hot and bothered (S & P?).

But such is the business. As they often retort, “Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.”

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