For Manny Pacquiao, grizzled veteran and survivor of 64 pro fights since he was a pimpled-faced, 16 year old, the warmup bouts are over.
The defining moments of his glorious ring career are nice enough in retrospect–particularly his total destruction of Oscar De la Hoya and Ricky Hatton, his and his former status as “the Mexicutioner” who mostly knocked off that country’s major stars. (Let’s call Manny’s KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez what it was a bicycle getting hit head on by a truck when the smaller vehicle was dominating.) Oh, lest we forget, how he pounded Hall Of Famer Miguel Cotto.
Yes, Pacquiao does not have the shiny, glittering 47-0 resume that Floyd Mayweather Jr. possesses.
Look under the hood on Manny’s 57-5-2, 38 KOs body of work and you quickly see the dents and dings he accumulated in what Mike Tyson calls “the hurt business.”
But, Saturday night in Las Vegas with the world watching he and Mayweather like never before, Pacman has the opportunity to fulfill his greatest destiny.
Getting flattened with one shot by Juan Ma. Losing a bogus, split decision to Tim Bradley. The points loss to Hall Of Famer Erik Morales. And, in the smaller type, the technical draw with roughneck Agapito Sanchez and the early on third round KO defeats as a scrawny kid in Thailand and the Philippines.
Those results will suddenly be written in invisible ink if Pacquiao can deliver a victory over the Unconquerable, Mister Perfect, Mister 47 Have Tried And Failed…
But the question remains, is Pacquiao, whose odomoter has more hard miles on it than does the older Mayweather, up to the Herculean task.
It says here that Pacquiao is. It says here nobody will get knocked down. It says here that nobody will get knocked down.
It says here that, while Mayweather will be peckin’ and pokin’ trying to pour water on Pacquiao’s smokin’, hyper aggressive attack, it won’t be enough to preserve the Material Guy’s most prized possession, bigger than any of his pricey Bugatti’s, the 47-0 bottom line.
But, to shock the world, Pacquiao will have to fight better, to do a bit more, than he did in all those 64 prior fights. He may not have to be perfect to beat perfection but he will have to as imperfect as all get out over 36 minutes.
That means he cannot get those pesky leg crams.
That means he cannot let Mayweather dance on his feet like Juan Ma liked to do.
That means he must throw four more punches after he misses three times. That means he has to concentrate on the taller, bigger man’s exposed body when Floyd is in the Shoulder Roll stance.
That means he must, above all, not leave his chin open to the “check hook” or to a short, straight hand which is generally a southpaw’s worst weakness when facing a right handed fighter.
That means he must, as Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali did so emphatically so often, “steal” some rounds by “shoeshining” Mayweather in the waning seconds of each three minute recital.
As good as Coach Freddie Roach is, as attuned to Manny as he is, the trainer will not have any neat tricks to offer Pacman once the opening bell rings. Mayweather will be solely Pacquiao’s burden and the pugilistic puzzle cannot be solved by one fighter’s trainer.
(Roach used up his Mayweather trick bag when he jockeyed Oscar, who lost a spirited bout 7-5 in rounds to Floyd. Surely you recall “The Fight To Save Boxing.”)
I see the first three rounds as uneventful, with the first to Mayweather, the second to a flurrying Pacman and then a third round in which the judges will be hard pressed not to scribble down 10-10. They won’t and Mayweather will be ahead, 2-1, going into round four.
Then the wild scramble begins. Then Pacquiao will have to go into overdrive, hit the petrol pedal like never before.
Pacquiao will need to virtually sweep rounds four, five, six and seven.
If he can, he can come out for round eight ahead, perhaps not 5-2 on the scorecards but, more likely, 4-3.
That leaves us the Final Four, rounds eight through 12, the so called “Championship Rounds.”
The Pinoy Idol must clearly win two rounds over the final 12 minutes and he will need one judge to mark him as the winner of three of four.
It says here this miracle transpires, that the underdog captures a majority decision victory.
Yes, one judge, likely Burt Clements from Reno, will call it a draw but Glenn Feldman and Dave Moretti will have Pacquiao nipping Mister Now 47 And One by a hair.
The warmup bouts are long over. Now Pacquiao, Child Of Destiny, has to win the fight he was born to win.
And he will…
See you in September for the rematch.