How many times have I said in my past columns that Manny Pacquiao can become a “stepping stone” for the younger fighters in boxing’s middle divisions (junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight)?
How many times have I said that he should retire and just enjoy his millions, and keep his impressive legacy intact?
Maybe I should have also said in my past columns Floyd Mayweather Jr. made a wise decision to retire after beating Pacquiao because the American knows very well he can also become a stepping-stone for younger fighters?
Looking back at boxing’s rich history, there are numerous fighters who had built up their legacy but stayed in the game too long and got beaten by younger fighters.
Two fighters come into my mind: Julio Cesar Chavez and Sugar Ray Leonard.
After losing a second time to a young Oscar De La Hoya in September 1998 also via a stoppage, Chavez must have thought he still had a lot left in his tank after beating a number of no-name fighters via decision or knockout. But he lost to a then promising Kosta Tzyu also by stoppage in September 2000 and to journeyman Gover Wiley in September 2005.
On the part of Leonard, he should have retired for good after beating Marvin Hagler in a marquee fight in April 1987. But after a victory over Danny Lalonde in November 1988 for the first-ever world super middleweight championship, Leonard plowed on and lost the last two outings in his career: to an up-and-coming Terry Norris in February 1999 by decision; and to a then formidable Hector Camacho in March 1997 by stoppage.
So at what point is an accomplished boxer overstretching himself or stepping into dangerous ground where he can become a stepping-stone?
In the case of Chavez, it was after he suffered the second stoppage loss at the championship level, or to De La Hoya in September 1998. But in the case of Leonard, all looked quite well before he fought Norris, because he drew a rematch with Thomas Hearns in June 1989 and even decisioned archrival Roberto Duran six months later.
So the decline of Chavez was obvious and predictable, while that of Leonard was not.
In the case of Pacquiao, there could be two schools of thinking: with the knockdowns he registered on Chris Algieri and Timothy Bradley, the Filipino can still be regarded as competitive against young fighters; or Pacquiao is undergoing a natural decline and his being knocked out by archrival Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 had an effect on him physically and psychologically.
Whatever school of thinking you choose, one thing is for sure – let’s not push Pacquiao into dangerous ground only to see him lose badly to any of the promising young contenders today.
His possibly facing the 28-year old Terence Crawford, whose current record is 29-0 with 20 knockouts, also scares me. Over the weekend, Crawford knocked down twice an erstwhile undefeated Viktor Postol to add the World Boxing Council junior welterweight title to the World Boxing Organization title he has held since February this year.
I never expected the 5’11” Postol to be dominated by the 5’8” Crawford but the American showed he is becoming one of the more outstanding fighters in boxing’s middle divisions. Crawford was ranked No. 2 in The Ring junior welterweight rankings behind Postol before their fight over the weekend.
While Pacquiao knocked down Bradley and Algieri, do you honestly believe he can do the same thing against Crawford? Bradley and Algieri could not keep Pacquiao at bay because they never had consistent power in their punches, which allowed the Filipino to land power punches on them. Bradley and Algieri both have low knockout percentages or below 50 percent.
Against Crawford, I do not see Pacquiao landing the way he did against Bradley and Algieri because the lanky undefeated American proved he has knockdown power in the Postol fight.
I’m not saying Pacquiao will get knocked out by Crawford (I don’t want that to happen) but expecting the Filipino to win in the same fashion against Algieri and Bradley is foolish thinking.
So let’s not push Pacquiao into dangerous ground.