by John A. Bardelli
November 14, 2009
Some great fights took place in the soon to be completed first decade of the Twenty First Century. Too, not being satisfied with its position within the world scene, the United States has launched yet another series of war at the commencement of the decade when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq, for the second time, in 2003, to sadly add to the United States' reputation as a bellicose nation which, in analysis, rightfully draws the ire and condemnation of the vast majority of nations and people within the world community as a consequence.
One wonders, with its penchant for attacking non-white countries with little or no standing armies to mass a defense, when and if the United States might launch warfare against Mexico in an endeavor to stem the tide of what it professes to be illegal immigration coupled with the professed claim that it must stop the importation of drugs into the United States --- while the Republicans in Congress, all the while, profess righteous indignation at the state of affairs, pretense and disdain for all that is Mexican.
Ironically, however, those same Republicans are silent with respect to the massive shedding of lives and blood by Latinos, blacks and other minorities, who adorn Army green in this all-volunteer military while "spreading democracy" for the United States territorial aspirations throughout the world.
Too, those same Republicans have long ignored the contributions of the Latinos in their keeping alive the strong work ethic once so prevalent in this country as the very term "Latino," in a word, has become synonymous with "labor" --- indeed back breaking and suffocating labor at that.
To select the greatest fight which has taken place, thus far within the decade, let alone trying to decide who was the greatest fighter during this same period of time, is an awesome task under any circumstance. Clearly, as far as the selection of the fighter of the decade, the Pinoy, Manny Pacquiao, has to be strongly considered for the honor of the single greatest fighter of the decade and one or more of his fights will undoubtedly come up for nomination as fight of the decade as well.
In fact, Pacquiao's dominance in the ring has been so great that should the United States ever decide to turn its military muscle southward with its sights on Mexico, it might consider engaging Pacquiao for the task at hand as he became a wrecking ball, as far as deflating talented Mexican fighters, who entered the ring with him, were concerned, literally destroying the creme de la creme which Mexico has had to offer as sacrificial lambs. Latino personages inclusive of Marcos Antonio Berrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Hector Velazquez, David Diaz, and Oscar De La Hoya all shed blood and were swept up in cyclonic fashion by Pacquiao despite engaging the Pinoy southpaw in some interesting and challenging contests.
When the English clamored --- we've seen enough of Mexican fighters try to bring the reign of Pacquiao to an end ---- and that it had the real McCoy to engage Pacquiao, enter one Ricky Hatton --- Pacquiao teamed with John Barleycorn working overtime behind the scenes, keeping fast company with Hatton to do a number on the best England had to offer when Great Britain gifted to the tigerish Pacquiao, another lamb who, before the bout was 60 seconds old was on the receiving end of some vicious right hooks --- and before the fight was three minutes old, received a left hand which rendered him totally unconscious and literally dead on the canvas as an strange silence swept over half of England which had trekked to Las Vegas for the occasion.
Yes, indeed, Frank Churchill and Joe Waterman, who brought many a great fighter from the Philippines to the United States, culminating in the great Pancho Villa, would be in seventh heaven witnessing this southpaw, heralding from General Santos City, Cotabato del Sur, Philippines, born Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, and known world wide as Pac Man or Manny --- going through the lighter divisions like a scourge while remaining totally within himself as a person, as a man, as a fighter, and in his spiritual walk with God.
Pancho Villa, too, would understand and approve of Pacquiao becoming the heir apparent to Villa's own legacy as the greatest Pinoy fighter of them all. For the record, Villa amassed within the span of but 6 years in the ring, 82 victories within 90 recorded fights and destroyed England's Jimmy Wilde to annex the world's flyweight championship before succumbing to the ravages of a tooth infection which lead to his death following an ill advised fight with Jimmy McClarnin. Ill advised because Villa went into the fight with the infection spreading but he did not want to disappoint his fans by having the fight canceled.
Trained by Freddie Roach throughout the decade, from 2001 to the present, Manny Pacquiao has a collision course with destiny and the bestowal of boxing immortality upon his head as the two Boxing Hall of Fames, --- the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame, --- already have him within their respective scopes to pounce the minute Pacquiao becomes eligible for induction within the rules governing each entity.
But Pacquiao has business to attend to first, and is on a virtual collision course come Saturday, November 14, 2009, with Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto, a gifted and bullish strong welterweight who will offer Pacquiao his sternest test this far in Pacquiao's career. My reflective thought: Pacquiao will certainly take a hard long look at retirement when this fight is decided, however it should end.
In a rugged and vicious display of fighting by both fighters, Manny Pacquiao will be stopped in the 9th or 10th round if, after slicing Cotto to ribbons and bits within the earlier rounds, this fight has not been stopped and awarded to Pacquiao because of Cotto's cuts, by the sixth round. After the sixth round, the end will be sudden with Pacquiao unable to continue and he will be counted out as only Manny Pacquiao would have it were he given the alternative to retire in his corner rather than to go down fighting.
The speed and accurate punching of Pacquiao will rip and tear Cotto's countenance, having him bleeding from cuts around both eyes, his nose and mouth, to the point that the fight will be on the verge of being stopped before the bell for the sixth round rings. However, if not stopped by that time, the tide of battle will turn and the continual strength, punching power and numbing bombardment presented by Cotto will begin to reveal itself as Cotto, having absorbed and survived Pacquiao's right hooks, uppercuts, and combination punching, makes use of his ability to shift to his natural southpaw fighting style to his advantage and belabors a bewildered Pacquiao, --- who has to wonder what has kept Cotto upright for six rounds --- in a manner with punches to Pacquiao's body, hips, kidneys, head, where it becomes impossible for Pacquiao to keep up his own spirited pace as he tires due to the infliction and accumulation of punches he has to absorb from the non-stop pressure applied by Miguel Cotto. The single biggest factor in this fight is the ability of Miguel Cotto to counter Pacquiao's southpaw stance by, himself, shifting to his natural southpaw stance and landing viciously numbing left leads and left hooks from his natural fighting style --- punches which have the capacity to and which will eventually drop Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao will drop and be counted out while the nation of the Philippines rightfully descends into prolonged mourning and shock. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, will celebrate for weeks on end in token of the victory as it seizes its own moment in the sun and gives thanks to one of the great number of Puerto Rican fighters, indeed, athletes, --- who have risen from the ranks of squalor and deprivation to become well known athletes and, in the case of Miguel Cotto, to the pinnacle of his profession.
The pundits will cry for a rematch but Manny Pacquiao, having gone out on his shield like the warrior he is, was, and ever will be, will never fight again and the Philippines, in shock as a nation, never believing what transpired could be within the realm of reality, let alone fancy, will take years to regain the proudness of a people and nation given to them by their redeemer of this ensuing decade, the great Manny Pacquiao.
This is all gut stuff. It comes from a feeling --- a reaction, and a fear that Manny Pacquiao is going to the well one time too often. The boxing greats who moved up within divisions, --- down through the history of this gamest of all sports, --- with rare exception, were successful for a time but none knew when to call it a day and bit off more than each could chew in some particular fight. Boxing writers who put their reputations on the line in making predictions about the outcome of fights --- have to scope the unfolding scenario and ask but one compound question: Is this the hour and is this the consuming fight?
The rise in rank comes with age --- comes with the putting on of weight --- and comes with a slowing of reflexes --- all of which adds up to the incessant gamble engaged in by fighters who perceive that they are invulnerable to ravages brought through the passage of time and the toll that comes with an aging process which is a different process by degrees within all humans. Stepping up in weight is fraught with danger, the type of danger which will become manifest on November 14th.
As I was told when yet a youngster by Young Firpo, nee Guido Bardelli, during a general boxing discussion: "A fighter thinks he is tough --- you think you're tough? Remember this! There is always someone out there who is tougher than you and he'll show you what toughness is if you stay around too long."
The amazing run of victories over the elite from Mexico --- the demolition of Oscar De La Hoya, and the near decapitation of Ricky Hatton, have all served to generate an aura of invincibility when assessing where Manny Pacquiao fits in among the elite of boxiana. The outcome of those fights were predictable and, as a fighter, lend little to gauge Pacquiao's greatness.
For the record, this writer predicted the round in which Pacquiao stopped De La Hoya and also predicted Pacquiao to knock out Hatton --- but thought it would occur later in the fight. De La Hoya, physically, looked horrible the week before the fight and was a shell upon entering the ring to engage Pacquiao. Hatton's own career record was built on beating up fighters with losing records. Not facing tough opposition, he thought he could lead two lives. The dissipation caught up to him and he paid the eventual price --- thanks must go to John Barleycorn as much as to Manny Pacquiao for the apparent ease and dispatch which creates the confusion.
Frankly, I hope that this assessment, on the eve of battle, is awash with a fear that his magnified beyond all reality. I hope, too, that the warning given by a fighter from a different era, --- through the listening to the voice of experience, especially the experience of a fighter who was in that same ring over 100 times in his own career, always should be heeded, --- is a warning which will not be realized in the ring on November 14, 2009, despite the fact that, realistically, we all should know that the time is near. My sentiments are with Manny Pacquiao but if this fight is not over by a sixth round stoppage on cuts, look for Pacman to be counted out in the 9th or 10th round.