Age stealing Pacquiao’s old power–Merchant
MACAU—The “Pacific Storm” the legendary boxing analyst Larry Merchant liked to call has eased up, his brute power of old slowly being diminished by the termite of age.
For Merchant, nothing, not even a knockout win in the latter rounds, could have swept the age factor under the rug for Manny Pacquiao as the Filipino boxing hero announced his return with what pundits here, like the grizzled American, said was an unremarkable decision victory over Brandon Rios.
“I would have loved to see him win by stoppage, but you can’t expect an old bull to kick harder than it used to,” said Merchant after the fight.
The grizzled American boxing guru had told the Inquirer on the eve of the fight that “it’s a fair assessment” to assume that Pacquiao, who will turn 35 next month, may have lost his aura of invincibility due to his advancing age.
“This is his 19th year as a professional and he hasn’t had a knockout in four years,” said Merchant. “So (there are) questions about how vulnerable he is, and if he is, then questions about how Rios can expose that.”
For all his loathsome antics against Pacquiao, Rios indeed helped bare for all the world to see how boxing’s only eight-division champion has lost a step or two in the ring.
“Pacquiao is not as quick and as ferocious as before, say four or five years ago,” said Rios’ chief trainer Robert Garcia as he headed for the postfight conference. “Happens to all of them.”
Merchant thinks that Pacquiao, more than his phantom opponent Floyd Mayweather Jr. is “a little bit past his prime” and that his disquieting knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez almost a year ago unraveled a “certain decline.”
“Usually, when (fighters) get beaten up or stopped when they’re older it’s a reflection of certain decline,” said the 81-year-old former reporter and television broadcaster,
“They don’t see the punches coming in as quickly as before.”
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