Timothy Bradley has accused Manny Pacquiao, who hasn't registered a stoppage win since 2009, against Miguel Cotto, of having lost his killer instinct.
That has struck a chord in fans and analysts, who note that Pacquiao didn't seek to put a finishing touch on his last foe, Brandon Rios, even though he had the matter well in hand and could have at least ramped up the pressure in order to get a conclusive finish. He got stopped in the bout before that, and against Bradley, he boxed smartly but without a hint of savagery, and that helped give two judges the ammo needed to hand Bradley a SD win in June 2012. Manny couldn't stop Marquez in their third fight, or a faded Shane Mosley in 2011, or a faded Antonio Margarito before that. Joshua Clottey was able to hear the bell to end the 12th when they tangled in Texas in 2010. Yep, Pacman last dropped the hardcore hammer against Cotto, in November 20011 in Vegas, in round 12.
He looked super aggressive in his leadup scrap, when he blitzed Ricky Hatton (KO2) in May 2009. But that style of fighting seems way in the rear view for Manny to many of us.
Now, fight fans are wondering if Bradley has awakened a beastly instinct in Manny, helped usher a closer mindset out of the Congressman that has been, for whatever reason(s), mothballed.
Manny himself thanked Bradley for making that commentary, and trainer Freddie Roach told me Bradley did him a favor, by lighting some fire of fury under Manny. But promoter Bob Arum offered up some contrary wisdom when I talked about the "killer instinct" issue with him during a Thursday press conference in NYC.
Can Manny get the killer instinct back, Bob, or has age, or too much worship of a benevolent God, removed that element from Manny's game forevermore, I wondered.
"All this talk about killer instinct is nonsense," the promoter told me. "What is Manny's best fight plan? His best fight plan is to use his speed, get in, land his punches, and disappear before the guy can answer back."
Hmm, provocative. One might expect the promoter, who knows what fans crave, to play up the "mean Manny is coming back" angle, yet Arum chose to not indulge. No, he noted that the Pacquiao who darted and lanced, as he did against Brandon Rios, and, Arum recalled, Oscar De La Hoya in 2008, was skilled and hard to beat.
"I think Manny realizes that's his best style," Arum continued. "The worst thing that ever happened to Manny was not getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez, but it was knocking out Ricky Hatton. Because then he imagined himself to be this super knockout guy."
Thoughts, boxing fans? Arum makes a good point, and not coincidentally, talks up a fight style that could leave his top boxer with a better chance to elongate his career, and thus, prolong his status as a bottom line booster of Top Rank's profit margin. Could Manny re-find his "killer instinct?" If yes, should he employ it, or should be try to be the slicker boxer than Bradley? You'll recall Bradley had more dark moments against Ruslan Provodnikov, when he was "Rumbling Tim" than he did against Marquez, when he was "Ring General Tim."
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