Manny Pacquiao didn't win a great fight
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-12-18

This discussion is not intended to wreck the chair of Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao.

In fact, this Chair Wrecker postponed writing this column to allow Manny Pacquiao to savor his victory and hero’s welcome. The postponement is also intended to allow the euphoria to settle — a euphoria that was created more by media hype than actual ferocious ring combat.

This discussion is not even intended to diminish the achievement of Manny Pacquiao. Manny manhandled Oscar “Golden Boy” de la Hoya the way his handlers correctly planned his fight strategy.

However, it takes two to tango just as it takes two great ring combatants to make a classic boxing fight that could match the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fights, the greatest of which culminated in the unforgettable Ali-Frazier III — the “Thrilla in Manila.”

Ali-Frazier III was a great fight because both combatants were capable of knocking out each other. If Frazier didn’t quit before the final round — Ali might have done it. Ali was so exhausted that he collapsed after being declared the winner by TKO.

When Pacman answered the opening bell, he fought his best fight but the Golden Boy did not compliment his effort. Oscar de la Hoya cheated the public and the Pacman by just going into the ring to collect a big paycheck without displaying the form that everybody expected to see that night in Las Vegas. The Pacman came to fight a bigger, stronger opponent who turned out to be nothing more than a shadow of his past greatness.

It is immaterial if de la Hoya’s lackluster performance was due to rapid loss of weight, wrong training or a left shoulder injury that prevented the use of his feared left jab. The point is de la Hoya did not provide Pacquiao the necessary counter force that would have made their encounter a truly great fight.

The fight was hyped as a battle between the Biblical David and Goliath. But at least in the David and Goliath story — Goliath tried to obliterate David. The Oscar de la Hoya that fought Manny Pacquiao did not even appear to have the desire to win.

Some folks I know, including two ladies, even suspected that de la Hoya threw the fight after betting that Pacquiao will win. A $1,000,000 bet on Pacquiao would have won $1,350,000; a $5,000,000 bet would have won $6,750,000! Stranger things have happened in boxing.

One person told me: “You see de la Hoya is also a promoter of Pacquiao fights and so he could be protecting his investment by keeping the Pacman legend alive for bigger paydays ahead.”

True enough, the Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather Jr. prospective fights with Pacquiao are now being floated and these are promising to be bigger paydays than the de la Hoya fight. Had de la Hoya beaten Pacquiao, the Hatton and Mayweather fights will not be generating the same excitement and potential revenues.

It’s true that the fight turned out to be a mismatch. But a great fight it never was. To herald that bout as one of boxing’s finest encounters is to further promote the lies and illusions that victimize this nation.

The Pacquiao-de la Hoya fight was no different from the Joe Louis-Rocky Marciano fight. Joe Louis, like Muhammad Ali, was one of the greatest heavyweight champs. But the Joe Louis that entered the ring against Marciano was way past his prime and got knocked out. The Pacquiao-de la Hoya fight was also no different from the Muhammad Ali-Larry Holmes fight.

In those fights, Louis and Ali represented the over-the-hill fighters who did not know when to hang up their gloves and got massacred. No boxing expert rates that Louis-Marciano fight as one of boxing’s finest moments, not even as Marciano’s best fight. In like manner, no boxing expert rates the Ali-Holmes fight as one of the most unforgettable ring encounters.

And yet, Joe Louis, at age 37, did put up a much better fight against Marciano than de la Hoya ever did against Pacquiao.

Our STAR sports columnist Quinito Henson gave very good insights as to what happened in that Pacman-Golden Boy fight during the Solar TV coverage. I noted Quinito describing the mismatch as “unbelievable…how come de la Hoya is not using his vaunted left jab…it is not like the de la Hoya we know in the ring right now…how come de la Hoya is allowing himself to be punched without fighting back” and so forth.

The other understandably pro-Pacquiao Filipino commentators heightened the hype of a momentous ring encounter. I do share their enthusiasm to see a Filipino achiever recognized internationally as this somewhat improves the image of what is otherwise known as the most corrupt people in Asia.

But, clearly, it was not the great Oscar de la Hoya that a great Manny Pacquiao fought. It was a poor facsimile of the great Oscar de la Hoya. That ring encounter was not and should not be rated as a great fight.

I dared to venture into this discussion not so much to dampen the national euphoria over Manny Pacquiao’s victory. I am aware that any effort to spoil the national celebration will be unpopular. But I felt obligated to increase public awareness of how we Filipinos are so easily led to accept illusion for reality, even lies for truth.

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All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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