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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Passing through : Pacquiao’s mistake

As a part-time boxing judge myself I would have without doubt ceded the match to Yordenis Ugas.

It was not one hell of a fight but time and again, Pacquiao showed he can contend. Only this time, we were looking at a different Pacquiao.  Nowhere was Ugas in trouble during the entirety of the match and while he was not entirely unmarked, it was the Cuban that delivered the more convincing blows. One look at Pacquiao’s face that were cut in several places left no doubt about the verdict.

But my respect for Pacquiao as a professional boxer remains undiminished. He is a formidable fighter despite his age at 42.  The eight division titles tucked under his belt has been unmatched to this day, and has cemented his place in the galaxy of boxing legends as one of the greatest southpaws of all time.

But against Ugas, Pacquiao’s explosive style that has time and again laid open defenses and paved the way for spectacular victories in the past, deserted him.

In a loss to Floyd Mayweather in 2015, the culprit was a “torn shoulder.” Against Ugas in 2021, Pacquiao fought supposedly with stiff legs, limiting his speed and blunting the explosiveness that were vintage Pacquiao.

Has Father Time finally caught up with him as a lady reporter asked after the fight? Pacquiao did not say it but it was clear that he has clearly lost a step or two.  Perhaps it has to do with his other position as a Philippine senator that took up much of his time. Perhaps it has to do with inactivity, having fought his previous match in July 20, 2019 against Keith Thurman.

Perhaps his mistake was that like a chess grandmaster who slumped into inactivity, he thought his skill can be stored in a glass case and summoned in tip-top shape when the occasion demanded.

Against the open and aggressive styles of Juan Manuel Marquez and Ricky Hatton, Pacquiao ranked high up there in a pedestal. He was something to behold, so much that even criminals go on moratorium just to watch him fight. But against the defensive-minded Mayweather, Pacquiao clearly had no answer.  Timothy Bradley essayed the style in 2012 and eked out a win against Pacquiao. Mayweather must have studied this fight thoroughly and came up with an impenetrable fortress that Pacquiao tried but failed to overcome. Worse, Mayweather was not giving him a rematch.

Ugas’ crowding but defensive style reminded me in part of Mayweather. While Ugas failed to knock him out, his double jabs found their marks on the Filipino icon’s face.  It was enough to convince the judges. In the end, Pacquiao could only apologize for a disappointing performance.

I think the beginning of a trail of uneven results for Pacquiao first showed in his fourth and last fight with Marquez in 2012 when the Mexican recovered from a knockdown to knock out Pacquiao in the sixth round.

Marquez showed he could take Pacquiao’s haymaker punch and still came out on top. In my opinion, the result gave Pacquiao’s future and past opponents the hint that if they can take his best shot, they stood a chance of winning.

In 2017, the Australian Jeff Thorn fought aggressively and was continually on the attack. Pacquiao rallied in the 9th round by pummeling Thorn against the ropes but failed to knock him out, allowing the Australian to ride out the storm. If this was one unguarded moment, his loss to Ugas underscored what for many is the beginning of the end for Pacquiao.

(By: Jimmy Laking)

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