Anatomy of a Pinoy ring legend | Inquirer Sports

Anatomy of a Pinoy ring legend

10:58 AM November 13, 2010

MANILA—Manny Pacquiaois regarded as today’s best pound-for-pound boxer not only for the number of championship belts he has amassed, but more so because he has challenged and disproved long-standing boxing norms and beliefs.

Pacquiao has moved from the flyweight rank to the welterweight level with ease. By itself, this feat dumbfounded many boxing experts. Moving up in weight divisions four to five times is already seen next to impossible, which is why going for an eighth title in as many weight categories is remarkable and unprecedented.

The jump in weight coupled with how he has beaten the best boxers out there made the Pacquiao legend grow over time. There are, however, a handful of fights which can be categorized as step-up fights for the 31-year-old Filipino superstar.

STEP-UP FIGHTS
LEHLO LEDWABA—If all doors are closed, kick one in.

FEATURED STORIES

The first one brings us back to the opportunity that opened up all doors for Pacquiao.

Stepping into the shoes of a challenger for the IBF super bantamweight belt back in 2001 was his first defining moment. He was a last-minute replacement against the then champion Lehlo Ledwaba.

Pacquiao’s sixth-round TKO of the champion placed the left-handed slugger in the radar of international boxing.

MARCO ANTONIO BARRERA—The making of a star.

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Four knockout wins after that, Pacquiao’s next major win came at the expense of Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera at the featherweight division.

Still in his prime in 2003, the mighty Barrera and the world were caught flatfooted by the barrage of punches Pacquiao threw. The fight ended with Barrera’s corner throwing in the towel at the end of the 11th round to save him from further punishment.

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ERIK MORALES PART II—Getting stronger and faster.

A year and a half after Pacquiao’s Barrera demolition, the stage was set for his trilogy against another Mexican great Erik Morales.

The second meeting of these two gladiators set the stage for yet another step-up performance for the Filipino boxer. Fighting at the super featherweight division, Pacquiao showed the world that he continues to get stronger as he moves up in weight.

Moreover, he showed that he, too, had the heart to bounce back after losing to Morales in their first encounter by demolishing him via a TKO in the tenth round.

OSCAR DE LA HOYA—Starting to do the impossible.

Pacquiao’s leap into the 145-pound category was both a gamble and a show of force. Facing one of boxing’s greats, Oscar De La Hoya, in a weight division the Mexican-American has dominated, Pacquiao brilliantly schooled the Hall of Famer and catapulted himself on top of the boxing totem pole.

In this fight, he showed that his speed can eradicate any advantage of size, strength even at a weight division 10 lb over his last fight. De La Hoya gave up in the eighth.

RICKY HATTON—Just as strong and as fast but heavier.
A true light welterweight, Ricky Hatton has never been beaten in the 140-lb category prior to facing Pacquiao. Hatton had power, strength and a fighting style many thought was perfect to slow down the rampaging Pacquiao.

Power generated through speed finished off the heralded Hatton via a devastating second-round knockout.

These fights build the stories that have fueled the legend of the Filipino superstar. Pacquiao’s performance and eventual wins in these encounters continued to surprise the boxing world as they saw a man who simply continued to improve by getting faster, stronger, and is now fighting with more heart.

Today, Pacquiao again will challenge history. He will be facing his biggest and, arguably, toughest opponent to date, Antonio Margarito.

TALE OF THE TAPE
AGE / EXPERIENCE / RECORD
Margarito is only one year older than Pacquiao. Age therefore should not be a factor in this fight. However, based on their records, boxing experience will be.

Pacquiao has had a total of 56 fights over the 45 outings of the Mexican. He has dominated in fights at this level and this magnitude. He is used to the pressures of an activity such as this.

Margarito on the other hand, will have to work hard on his mental preparedness to maintain the needed focus to win this bout.

Pacquiao boasts a 51-3-2 win-loss-draw record with a knockout-to-win ratio of 68 percent.

Margarito comes in with a 38-6 win-loss card boasting of a 60 percent KO-to-win ratio.

These numbers reflect a seemingly perfect match up for a main event. Of course, looking closer, Pacquiao will always have the more interesting record as shown by his move up the seven divisions.

WEIGHT

The weight issue has always been raised way back when Pacquiao started fighting beyond the 118-lb category. It is more pronounced in this fight.

The 150 lb catchweight is alien to Pacquiao, but is normal for Margarito. This is one reason why it again becomes a step-up fight for the smaller fighter.

It is expected that Margarito’s power within this weight category will remain intact and, therefore, need not be an issue in preparation.

Manny, however, will have to focus on keeping all his skills, speed and power as he moves up in weight.

The weight issue becomes now more pronounced as we add on the height and reach numbers.

HEIGHT

Margarito stands five inches over the 5-foot-6  Pacquiao. This is the tallest fighter that Pacquiao has ever faced.

In this fight, he will be forced to punch upward to get to the head of Margarito—a feat all boxers know is difficult to execute and will take its toll on one’s stamina.

 REACH

One must understand that height and reach are two factors that need to be analyzed simultaneously. The additional 6-inch reach difference further underscores the call for Pacquiao to be able to reach out to Margarito if he wants to score points.

On the other hand, if he wants just a win on points, Margarito can opt to settle down by maximizing his reach advantage and keep the Filipino away while scoring as Pacquiao darts in and out.

POWER AND STRENGTH
Power is generated by weight and speed.

Margarito generates his power from the former, Pacquiao from the latter.

As everyone expects, this fight will boil down to size versus movement. The fighter who has the strength and stamina to work out his fight plan will win this fight.

FIGHTING STYLES
Compared to the last few boxers who fought Pacquiao, Margarito is the one who uses his jab a lot. In fact, aside from the jab, Margarito is the busiest boxer Pacquiao will be facing.

The Tijuana Tornado once held the compubox record for most punches (1,675) thrown in a 12-round fight.

Margarito loves to throw his left hand to prepare his right straight. He knows how to use his height by staying away when needed, but also is ready to mix it up when the situation calls for it.

He is orthodox but uses his left hook almost as much as his right straight.

Given his size and style of punching, Margarito has a tendency to stay in front of his opponent and push forward. At first glance this would seem to be a weakness, but against a naturally smaller fighter like Pacquiao, pressing on continuously may not be a bad thing.

Pacquiao has evolved into a complete boxer. He uses his right wisely to set up his left or, in some instances, uses his left to set up his right hook. 

Leveraging on his speed, Pacquiao is always a dangerous opponent.

However, like any other boxer, Pacquiao also has habits that, if identified and worked on by the Margarito camp, may give the Filipino icon problems.

One such habit is when he drops his right when he unloads with his left power shot. A taller Margarito has the time to let go of a left jab once he sees Pacquiao moving forward. He has the distance and the arm length to actually connect first.

Pacquiao also, as part of his skill set, readily darts in and out. Margarito can exploit this rhythmic movement and hope to be able to tag him once in a while.

On the way out, a right straight can follow the retreating Pacquiao and tag him.

FIGHTING HEART


There is no question that Pacquiao will come into this fight ready to rumble, no matter what his motivations are. He will not give Margarito a chance to rest and, as always, he will move forward, and throw three- to six-punch combinations.

Pacquiao knows that to beat a bigger and heavier man, he has to throw, hit and hurt him several times to score a knockout.

Margarito, on the other hand, has everything to gain. Aside from the possible bragging rights that he beat the best fighter in the world, Margarito is also out there to vindicate himself.

After the “plaster of paris” issue, he needs to show the world that his rise to stardom is authentic.

FORECAST


Since the De La Hoya encounter, Pacquiao will always come in as the favorite.

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But in step-up fights such as this, the odds become smaller, the outcome much harder to determine. The fight will surely be very interesting to watch.

TAGS: Antonio Margarito, Boxing, Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao, Robert Garcia

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