SOME local boxing analysts and observers say Manny Pacquiao’s old fire is gone but the people’s champion remains a boxer to watch for, perhaps, a few more big fights.
After Pacquiao’s convincing 12-round unanimous decision win over American Timothy Bradley on Sunday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, fans are most likely asking if Pacquiao (56-5-2 win-loss-draw slate with 38 knockouts) could still deliver a knockout “killer punch.”
Sports Illustrated international columnist Greg Bishop said in his blog on Monday that Pacquiao, 35, failed to duplicate his performance when his “killer left fist” annihilated the likes of Ricky Hatton, Oscar Dela Hoya and Miguel Cotto, among others.
“This is where Pacquiao is at now: not at the end of his career, but near it,” Bishop wrote in his Sports Illustrated column.
“He is still an elite boxer, one of the two best of his generation, still very, very good. But the old Pacquiao, the guy whose left hand dizzied and dismantled foes, the guy who knocked out Ricky Hatton and stopped Miguel Cotto? He’s gone. Has been for a while now.”
“The old Pacquiao has been replaced by an older one,” he added. “That happens. That’s boxing, perhaps the sport where the aging process is most pronounced. No one is immune, not even a transcendent talent like Pacquiao.”
Even Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach agreed that the Filipino champ became a little bit slower in the rematch against the younger Bradley, 30, who absorbed his first loss in 32 fights (12 knockouts). Bradley still couldn’t catch Pacquiao, though.
“I thought he had the killer instinct. He would open up when he got him against the ropes. I thought he opened pretty well,” Roach told Boxingscene reporter Rick Reeno.
“He was a little bit slower than I’ve seen in the past. I don’t really know why, because when he was in the dressing room working out, he was on fire but maybe Bradley has something to do with it.”
For international boxing judge and referee Attorney Danrex Tapdasan, Pacquiao adjusted to the fight so well and proved himself the better fighter than Bradley.
“He proved that he is intelligent, well-conditioned and still the same ring warrior that became the best fighter in the planet between 2008 and 2011,” Tapdasan explained to The Manila Times. “Bradley just had the physical prowess and the heart to survive that brutal beating that he absorbed. The better fighter won tonight and there was no controversy this time.”
Some people in the southern part of the Philippines said it was not the same Pacquiao who won against Bradley although the Filipino boxer’s victory that recaptured the World Boxing Organization welterweight belt from Bradley was absolutely convincing.
“He is not like before because of his age but his performance is convincing,” said Yolly Alfante, president of the Mindanao Professional Boxing Association and the Buhay Kamao Boxing Foundation, to philboxing.com.
Pacquiao is 35 years old.
Boxing manager-promoter and retired police officer Willie Neri also told philboxing.com: “Manny is no longer the same Manny. He is down by 30 percent in performance.”