Reactions were mixed on Manny Pacquiao's performance on Saturday (US) in Macao, in that the vast majority decided that either the old Pacman is back, or, if not quite at the level of "vintage" Manny, that he's close enough to restart the salivating at the prospect of a Pacquiao-Mayweather clash.
I am not going into that rabbit hole, believing that the impediments which prevented that fight from being made in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 are still present, and I don't detect even a hint of change in that realm. So, I figure, speculating about fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao (seen celebrating in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) is pretty much a masturbatory exercise, and best left to others so inclined.
Two days later, if asked to offer a single element of Manny's effort that stands out for me, I have to choose from a few, not being able to cordon off just one. His stamina was marvelous, and continual. There weren't but a few parts of several rounds when it looked like he was conserving energy. I attribute that to some extra oomph in training, derived from his wounded pride; Manny said he wanted to come back and show the world that the KO at the hands of Marquez was truly an aberration, and not the new normal for him.
His battle plan was exemplary. The left to the gut the great work with the right hand, which allowed him to slither and slide out to his right, and keep Rios from winging left hooks and/or cutting off his path of escape, the discipline in sticking with it, the resistance of temptation to start loading up more, seeking a KO, and therefore leaving himself open to a counter which could spur a flashback to that Marquez moment...Manny gets an A for tactics and strategy.
Trainer Freddie Roach has to get an A, as well, for superior game-planning. He tried to tell us that Rios was a mere "tough guy" and doesn't possess enough grounding in the arts and the scientific elements of pugilism to hang on the same playing field as Manny...and he was right. Public opinion has swung from Roach as the 'It Trainer,' to Robert Garcia, and now its swung back again, with the anti-Garcia crew now noting they didn't hear or see what they'd hope to hear in the corner in between rounds to attempt to goad Rios into a re-set of tactics to switch the momentum in the Macao clash.
As always, the superlative Forum crew at TheSweetScience.com exhibited the keen eye and knack for communicating their insights post-fight. Let me share some of the feedback from our Forum faithful now:
Pacman fan Amayseng dug Manny's effort as much as I did, it seems, maybe more.
"Manny peppered Rios and boxed his ears off in a boxing lesson. Manny fought smart and controlled," he wrote. "Rios is a walking punching bag when fighting an elite athlete and boxer like Pacman. I hope Rios didn't take so much punishment that he STUTTERS the rest of his life like he was doing in that video making fun of another individual who is disabled and handicapped to certain extents due to a disease...or DONT I??"
Clearly, that gym meltdown featuring embrassing behavior by ex Team Pacquiao member Alex Ariza and Roach won't soon be forgotten by Amayseng...
The inimitable Radam weighed in, in his patented fashion:
"Bam Bam was full of fright, instead of fear. From the first time that he got clocked, his noggin he couldn't clear. He couldn't handle the big-fight atmosphere. He definitely didn't have "The Eye of the Tiger," but the eye of a-struck-in-the-path-of-a-headlight deer. To himself, he and Team Rios, told a lot of lies. Just before the start of the bout, he had dragonflies, instead of butterflies. With condition coach Alex Ariza, he ought to cut ties. Or to elite boxing, say his goodbyes. Holla!"
Reader Jzzy also came down hard on Rios and company:
"Manny exposed Rios for what he is, a loser with limited intelligence, class and zero boxing ability. Garcia provided no help whatsoever from the corner, where was their plan B? This was reminiscent of the Pac/Clottey fight, another lopsided paint job by Manny. Rios absorbed a frightful amount of punishment and yes he is a punching bag well on the way to Palookaville."
Mortcola too had a stinging assessment of Rios:
"No sign of decline in Pacquiao," he said. "Pac was destroying Marquez before he walked into that punch. And Saturday night he showed more speed and stamina than in years. Maybe the new god-fearing version really doesn't like to hurt people. But more likely is that he hits hard enough to bust the big welters' faces and bodies up, and KO some of them, but the size difference shows in whether he gets the KO. But still, that was a prime, quick, focused fighter in there. And Rios is already slurring."
A sweet review came from our guy Brown Sugar:
"Even though the uncompromising non-stop aggressive style of Paq's youth is gone, he still fought a masterful fight against an opponent who was as made to order as a pepperoni pizza. Manny floats like a dragonfly and stings like a hornet. Rios was being out-classed in every department and had no chance to win while suffering the most lopsided loss of his career. I was surprised he sounded offended when Max asked him if felt like a punching bag. Manny looked sharp last night, putting on a performance that would have made Mayweather proud. Speaking of Mayweather ....it's time to make that fight."
Sug also offered up a roster of possibilities for Manny's next:
"Provnikov is a friend and won't fight. Broner is unproven at the weight. Thurman is an Al Haymon fighter. Cotto is too big. Garcia is on Showtime. Marquez is chasing a rematch with Bradley. Bradley can't sell tickets but Paq can...so we'll see. Matthysse has been eliminated. I wouldn't mind seeing Alexander getting the call...but it's unlikely. Khan needs to prove he can compete at the top level again. That leaves Mayweather."
By the way, I have no problem with fight fans and consumers calling for That Fight to be made. They need to speak up and demand the fights they want to see, be it Mayweather-Manny, or fights that "can't" be made because of The Cold War.
Ultimo Shogun brought up a nice point, that of Manny's class. Rios could absorb some of that, as it says something about a person in how they react in both good times and bad. Manny acts the same after winning and losing: with class and dignity. He's a role model, after all.
"Manny's a class act...the way he hugged Rios and then his corner (including Ariza) after the fight was surprising to me," US said. "Always good to see great sportsmanship like that despite all the ugly things that were said between the two camps."
Feel free, friends, to continue the high-level of discourse in the Forum, and riffing off some of the points made here!
Who's the best Mexican boxer today?