‘Lefties’ vs ‘Jessies’

Conrad M. Cariño

Conrad M. Cariño

On November 5, two of the Philippines’ finest boxers, Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, will square off with opponents whose first name is Jessie: Jessie Vargas and Jessie Magdaleno.

Although Pacquiao and Donaire have different stances and distinctive ring styles, both are actually left-handed, with Pacquiao opting to be a southpaw and Donaire choosing to be a “converted southpaw.” And guess what their money punches are?

Pacquiao is one of the few southpaw boxers; lead with the right hand, which the weaker hand, and place the stronger left hand at the rear for it to do more damage. Besides, no one would dare question the power of the cross (delivered by the rear hand). I can even hypothesize more than 75 percent of boxers count on the cross as their money punch.

There is also an advantage of being a southpaw; since most boxers are right handed and lead with their left, southpaws are rare and can be hard to handle. Even Floyd Mayweather Jr. had difficulties with southpaws.

The advantage of a natural southpaw is an orthodox (right-handed stance) fighter will have a hard time jabbing because the southpaw’s right lead hand can effectively block the punch. And many boxers rely on the jab to get openings or keep their opponent off-balance. An orthodox fighter will also have a hard time landing the left hook, which the second most popular money punch (in the case of southpaws, it is the right hook).

Pacquiao’s being a southpaw has carried him very far, also counting his ring savvy, speed and power.

But there is another group of left-handed boxers who have chosen to be “converted” to fight orthodox style to be more proficient with the left hook. Donaire, Joe Frazier and Oscar Dela Hoya are among them.

The left hook has some advantages over the cross: it is nearer the target; an opponent will always be guessing whether his opponent will throw the jab or hook; and a lot of power can be generated from the left hook.

Donaire has been recognized as possessing one of the best left hooks in the business. However, relying on the left hook against a southpaw can have tragic consequences. Just look at how Guillermo Rigondeaux, a southpaw, defeated Donaire.

Come fight night, Pacquiao and Donaire will be entering in different circumstances.

Pacquiao will be facing a taller (5’11”) and bigger Vargas who, however, does not have punching power; his record of 27-1 with 10 knockouts clearly shows that. And since Pacquiao is a southpaw, expect Vargas to be perplexed by the Filipino.

On the other hand, the 5’6” Donaire will be entering the ring the bigger man against 5’4” Magdaleno who has a 23-0 with 17 KOs record and is only 24 years old.

The bad news is Magdaleno is a southpaw who can do very well against orthodox-stance fighters whose money punch is the left hook. Magdaleno, however, should not discount the fact that Donaire is a converted southpaw who is more proficient and accurate with the left hook.

Also, Magdaleno is no Rigondeaux who also perplexed Donaire with his counterpunching style.

Clearly, Pacquiao and Donaire are trying to extend their already prolific careers and both of them fighting in one card can be truly a treat.

So don’t miss the bouts when the Filipino lefties take on the Jessies.


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