When judge Jerry Roth told HBO's Jim Lampley that he judged Manny Pacquiao's performance versus Timothy Bradley against what vintage Pacquiao might have done to Bradley as the reason why he scored the fight so closely in Manny's favor, every fan with a scintilla of common sense admonished him. And rightly so. But if nothing else, Ford highlighted one thing that's been lost in the controversy, and that is Pacquiao has declined dramatically as a fighter. In his last two fights he was out-boxed and should've lost the decision against Juan Manuel Marquez. And according to two of the only three people that count, he lost to Bradley.
To think that Pacquiao could win a decision against Floyd Mayweather who recently beat Miguel Cotto convincingly in his last fight is almost in-comprehensible. Manny is not the same fighter he was when he fought Miguel Cotto in 2009. Mayweather has said repeatedly that Pacquiao can be out-boxed and nullified by fighters who give him different looks and a little foot movement, something both Marquez and Bradley fed Pacquiao. Notice that not only did Marquez and Bradley go the distance, they were never down or on the verge of going down against Pacquiao. In fact, neither were ever in trouble during the fight.
Floyd out lasted Manny in the sense that when they finally meet, he'll hold every advantage in and out of the ring. He knew the fight would be there for him whenever he wanted it. The horrific decision that went against Pacquiao in his last fight won't hurt the gate for a Mayweather-Pacquiao bout in 2013. The fact that the boxing media has pushed a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao as if it's the only fight that matters insures it will be a monster gate and attraction when it does happen as long as Pacquiao wins the next time out. Yes, the fight will happen well past it's sell by date, but it won't matter.
Have even the keenest boxing observers noticed how much Pacquiao has eroded? And whether it was against Mosley, Marquez or Bradley, Manny can't fight all out for three minutes a round anymore. And now when punches are coming at him with a little movement mixed in, he's no longer the instinctive attacker he used to be. Marquez forced Manny to think his way in, which helped stymie his runs and Bradley didn't change up much, other than he grew more confident once he weathered Manny's best between rounds three and nine. What's the common link? Pacquiao's aggression was blunted and re-directed by both fighters. Marquez isn't nearly as big or strong as Mayweather and Bradley isn't nearly as good. In fact, I don't think that Pacquiao was stronger than Marquez in their most recent fight, which came as a shock to everyone involved. I've actually heard Manny say that he was surprised to find that Marquez was stronger than he was.
Even at his best, Manny would've been life and death to beat Mayweather because of the style clash and Floyd's advantage in size and strength. Once you factor in the size and strength difference (which, in this instance actually is a factor) and it spells disaster for Pacquiao. To hear some mention how Pacquiao attacks in angles sounds great in conversation and looks good in print. However, what is overlooked is that Manny is much more stationary and predictable once he gets cracked a few times. And when he's more upright, you can see him trying to think his way through the fight instead of being the ferocious attacker he once was. Mayweather no doubt sees this and realizes that once he straightens Pacquiao up with a few direct lefts and rights, he'll start thinking his way in opposed to moving in reactive and instinctively. And once Floyd reduces him to that, game over.
Make no mistake, I think that Manny would leave nothing of himself in the ring that night, and he'd fight beyond his current capabilities. But that's not enough to win him the fight, or even put him close. Granted, he didn't bring his A-game for Bradley, but he tried to against Marquez. Freddie Roach beat that to death in the run up to the fight, yet Manny was clearly out-fought and should've lost the fight. No doubt, Pacquiao will do better against Mayweather than Marquez did, which in all likelihood will equate to him winning two rounds, three at the most.
The unjust decision that went against Pacquiao in the Bradley fight has quelled the stench of just how bad Pacquiao has looked in his last two bouts. The interest in a proposed fight with with Mayweather is no longer compelling. How can it be when there's little doubt as to who the winner will be? Floyd is too big, too strong and too versatile. It's doubtful that Mayweather's three month jail sentence will ruin him. Notice how all of the sudden he's quiet and just doing his time. He will probably be a little more humbled when he gets out, something that will likely make him an even more focused fighter.
In summation, Manny Pacquiao beat Timothy Bradley and was hosed out of the decision. However, the outrage over the decision has driven the conversation towards the scoring of fights and corruption. It's totally taken the light off of just how so-so Pacquiao has looked in his last two fights. He's no longer the Super-nova of 2008-2010 and that version of him is gone forever. Add to that his confidence isn't what it was, something that Mayweather has no doubt picked up on, and his chances of beating Floyd are slim.
If you're a big Pacquiao fan, relish how much fun he's been to watch over the last eight years. He's no doubt one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of the last 25 years and is a certain all-time great. But he will not be the fighter to finally knock Floyd Mayweather off his high perch.
For two years it's been said in this space that Manny Pacquiao can't and won't beat Floyd Mayweather if and when they fight. Nothing has changed and I further endorse that opinion.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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