Friday, May 07, 2010

Why Manny Pacquiao shouldn't duck Floyd Mayweather

He produces albums, stars in films and sitcoms, runs for public office and above all, wins seven world titles in seven different weight divisions. He's none other than Manny 'Pacman' Pacquiao.

After beating Joshua Clottey, the Filipino boxing phenom is currently devoting his time roaming around Sanggani Province to win the hearts of the locals, and ultimately their votes, as the Pacman tries his hand at politics by running for a seat in the House of Representatives.

On the other side of the globe, Floyd 'Pretty Boy' Mayweather is celebrating his victory over Shane Mosley. In addition, he remains undefeated at 41-25-0.

Both fighters are welterweights. Both are fresh off victories. Both have earned their place in the Boxing Hall of Fame and with a lot of gas left in their tanks, they are both on top of the boxing food chain. Question is who is on top of the other?

As you know by now, these two guys can take down any fighter their respective promoters places in front of them. Their latest bouts resulted into convincing wins in dismal fashion.

For all the hype, 'The Event' wasn't much of a slugfest. It was just Pacman throwing a barrage of lightning quick punches while Clottey simply covered his face and walked off to the sunset with a pot of gold.

Mayweather's latest outing wasn't any better. Being the defensive genius he is you've got to expect any fight involving the Pretty Boy ain't pretty fun to watch at all. Often labeled as someone who refuses to fight natural welterweights, Pretty Boy stepped out of his comfort zone and gave Mosley a beating. I suggest Pacman to do the same.

In the eyes of this writer, Pacman is like the Michael Jordan of boxing to the Filipino people. Sure, you could argue that we have greater athletes before Pacquiao, but aside from the fact that I never had the opportunity to lay my eyes upon all of them, we have to admit that there wasn't a Pinoy athlete that made it big as Manny Pacquiao had. And in a country that hasn't even won a single gold medal in the Olympics, Pacquiao is like National Treasure. Product endorsements, a ceremonial baseball pitch and an appearance in an American late night show just proves what a global icon Pacman turned into. Not to mention the media, both local and foreign, are always hot on his heels. Boxing related or not, every step this guy takes seems newsworthy. So if you're going to tell me that the incumbent pound-for-pound king refuses to take a swing at Mayweather all because of some drug-testing condition, you can't blame me for crying foul.

Pacman should realize that though shying away from Mayweather won’t taint he's career, taking on him will give a new meaning to winning it all. And that's why he should drop his demands and face Pretty Boy. I'm not taking anything away from Pacquiao here. I know he made history by winning titles in seven different weight classes, and as a champ, he has every right to make the rules. But could you imagine how our successors would feel when they take up Boxing 101 and see that Floyd, who shared an era and weight class with Manny, retires undefeated?

You can take a shot at Mayweather for demanding an Olympic-style drug testing which he himself doesn't even find necessary. You can also call him all the insulting names you want but he will still remain undefeated – undefeated and a nine time champion to boot. And he did it in five different weight classes too; only two classes short of what Pacman achieved. And unlike before, you can't call him a paper champ anymore because he took down a natural welterweight in Mosley, ranked as the no. 3 best fighter in the world and is the reigning WBA Welterweight Champion.

Before Mayweather retired, he was boxing's poster boy. The defensive genius was at the top of his game, and in the eyes of this writer, is boxing's Magic Johnson (Johnson's passing = Mayweather's defense). And when he hung his gloves, Pacman took over courtesy of a win streak stretching from Hector Velasquez to Clottey. Mayweather then felt an itch to come out of retirement. He's return resulted into losses for Juan Manuel Marquez and Mosley.

The question still remains though: Who is the better fighter between these two giants? Sadly, we just might never see that happening, and I partly feel bad for saying this but Pacman is to blame.
As stated by Dan Wetzel in his recent column in, Pacquiao's resistance to the Olympic-style drug testing is absolutely ridiculous. Firstly, his claim that such procedure weakens him is unfounded. And second, Mayweather made a compromise regarding the arrangements for the bout (see Wetzel's column for more details). That leaves Pacman to do his share to make this fight a reality.

Loyal supporters of Pacquiao, who are mostly blinded by his greatness, can always defend Pacman's stand and connect it to superstition. True enough, Jordan and Dallas Mavericks' shooting guard Jason Terry think they won't play well like they usually do if they were forced out of their habits. And you'll always find Efren 'Bata' Reyes toothless whenever he's holding a cue stick under the limelight.

Nonetheless, I always thought Pacquiao wasn't about superstitions and excuses. I always believed he was cut from a different cloth and that his story is that of sheer determination, ambition and hard work. Zero to hero, rags to riches, etc. And that's why I miss the Pacman of old. He ain't the People's Champ no more. He's not an underdog anymore. When Pacman steps into the ring, he's the favorite. So for this fight to take place, for us to see who the best boxer is, Manny has to give in to Floyd's demands and become an underdog once more. Go ahead Pacman. Play right into his game. Walk into his trap. Obey his every whim. And I promise you this, if you are a lot quicker than Mosley (who shook Mayweather in the first two rounds with an array of fists) like most of us think, you'll conquer Pretty Boy and further cement your place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame as one of the Greatest Fighters of All-time.

Sadly, Pacman is calling the shots. What can we do, he's the king of ring? Unless he's willing to give Floyd a handicap, I don't see this fight happening. But I'm still hoping Manny gives in. After all the people wants the fight and the sport needs it. Like when Jordan defeated Johnson, Pacquiao must defeat Mayweather to achieve boxing godhood. –Marlone Viardo

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