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Boxing Bandwagons and the Broken Ankle Brigade

By Ryan Dunn: This past Saturday the world watched as Manny Pacquiao easily handled aging veteran and future Hall of Fame fighter Shane Mosley. I was never much of an advocate of this match because of how lackluster Shane had looked in his previous two fights. I’m a big believer in earning your shot against the very best.

After eking out a draw against Sergio Mora, Shane should have hung up his gloves or built his image back up with some of the lesser-knowns. Instead, the shady promoters took the safe route and paired Manny against Mosley, a man who made a modern name by losing unanimously to Floyd Mayweather. There were and still are better opponents for Pacquiao, and this wasn’t one of them.

It was a cash grab, and any fan who didn’t see it is lying to their self. And to go further with the honesty, it was a cash grab when Mayweather took the fight as well, a contract of convenience borne of uncontrollable circumstance. And it wasn’t even the fight Floyd was looking for. Mosley was set to fight Andre Berto in a match more appropriate for Sugar Shane and a better measure of where he stood amongst the Welterweight ranks. But Haiti shook, the Berto fight fell through, and here we are, a year and change later, with Mosley still getting his shot at infamy… again.

As it stood, however, the Mosley/Pacquiao fight STILL had the potential for fireworks; two come-forward fighters with explosive power. Shane demonstrated his oomph against Mayweather with a near-knockdown just a year ago, and Manny has been putting top pedigree pugilists on the canvas with regularity since the early 2000’s.

But not only did Manny handle Mosley with ease, he did it for twelve consecutive rounds with nary a scratch upon his face. He still threw 80 punches in the late rounds and showed that while he may not have shown the angles we’re accustomed to, he still dazzled with an endless supply of stamina.

Not only did he dominate for the entire fight, he also scored perhaps the most legitimate knockdown of Sugar Shane since the man went pro (sorry Vernon, R.I.P.). And not only did he knock Shane down, he also left Mosley afraid to engage, and more than willing to admit he “had never been hit like that before in his career”. Sounds like the pound-for-pound king had a great night, right?

Well, if the fairweather fans are any indication, the answer is an unsurprising, resounding “No!” Buy why? Let’s investigate, shall we?

In my opinion, the reason why naysayers and borderline fans rushed to criticize Pacquiao is so obvious it borders on the ridiculous. The truth is that Shane refused to fight toe-to-toe, and Pacquiao appeared less mobile than he had in his previous four or five fights. During the post-fight interviews, Pacquiao claimed he was suffering tightness in his legs, which fans took to mean he had cramps.

Okay, let’s say we buy that, though I’m not a big proponent of fighters whining about pain after a fight. I give Manny a pass because he still won convincingly, and I believe he was simply disappointed he didn’t give the fans a knockout. If people want to knock Pacquiao for anything, then blame it on the lack of movement as a result of his legs.

But please, fans (and haters alike), just realize that by criticizing Pacquiao’s performance last Saturday — by saying he is now a fighter on the decline, or Floyd Mayweather did better against a common opponent — you are basically admitting to something you don’t even realize. You are, in essence, holding the Filipino to such a high standard that even when he scores a twelve round unanimous decision, a third round knockdown, and runs a boxing clinic on an aging but seasoned Hall of Famer, it still isn’t enough. People wanted the KO, the TKO, the thrown towel, the “No Mas!” ending we’ve grown so spoiled by. It’s an admission of greatness masked as beneath the guile of false critique.

In short, it’s a compliment. Nevermind the fact that Pacquiao hit Mosley more times than number two pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather, nevermind that Mosley hit Floyd more times than he was able to hit Manny, and never mind that Shane nearly knocked Money May down in their battle. The point is that if you don’t see those facts when presented right under your noses, you probably never will.

Look, nobody is telling anyone who to root for, who to hate, or who to claim apathy toward, but just check your ankles, because it can get dangerous jumping on and off bandwagons with such haste. Pacquiao did not have his best night on May 7, we can agree on that, but he proved that even with alleged leg pains, and a shop-worn opponent, he still put on a display every ounce as convincing as the man he SHOULD have been fighting (read: “Pretty Boy”) was able to muster.

In a nutshell, you can’t claim one of these guys as the greatest, and one as a fraud. Both men fought the same opponent, both fared equally well, and the man who holds the crown for best defensive fighter of our era was, in fact, tagged more times by Mosley than Dr. No-Defense himself: Manny Pacquiao.

So spread the wealth or take my recommendation and keep your baseless musings inside your head; for engaging with misrepresented rants is in all actuality an expression of your willing denial of the facts. I remember someone profound (aka some Anonymous commenter on some unnamed boxing website) once say… “Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t lie.”

It ain’t always pretty, but the future is still bright for the fighting pride of the Philippines. Now if we can only get the two best fighters of the decade to sign on the dotted line, wouldn’t THAT be something?

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