Sunday, November 13, 2011

What's Next for Manny Pacquiao?

Last night's fight could have gone either way.
Juan Manuel Marquez's corner shouldn't have told him that he was winning, which led to conservative fighting in the late rounds.
Floyd Mayweather should be licking his chops to make a deal with Manny Pacquiao.

All three statements are being repeated ad nauseam by the boxing media. I'll take aim at the last one.

Pacquiao-Marquez III was highlighted by Pacquiao's inability to land effective combinations on Marquez. Marquez employed a patient counterattack style to neutralize Pacquiao's speed and power. It almost seemed as if Marquez was willing to take Pacquiao's first punch, and counterpunch before Pacquiao could unload the rest of the combo.

Manny survived this fight. His fans and his country survived this fight. And so now, the media is arguing that there is no better time for Pretty Boy Floyd to sign the dotted line. They reason that if Pacman cannot handle a counterpuncher like JMM, how can he realistically expect to defeat Floyd, the greatest counterpuncher in boxing history?

This makes us. But it might not make sense to Mayweather.

For as long as we can remember, Mayweather has been ducking Pacquiao. The common assumption is that Floyd does not want to blemish his perfect record against the pound-for-pound king. If Floyd only now decides to make the biggest fight of all-time, he would be implicitly admitting that he was scared to meet Pacquiao in the first place. Floyd is too aware of his legacy (and more importantly, his ego) to do this. Before last night, he could bank on somewhat legitimate reasons for not fighting: disagreements over the payout structure of the fight, and Manny's refusal to submit to more rigorous blood testing than the Nevada State Athletic Commission requires. Now? Well if Floyd continues to run from Manny, can we really say that Floyd is scared? Why would he be scared when Marquez discovered and exploited a weakness in Manny's fighting style?

To everybody but Floyd, fighting Manny last year would have made sense. Make a huge payday, fight the best fighter in the world, and definitively prove that he is the greatest -- ever. To everybody but Floyd, fighting Manny now makes even less sense. Floyd Mayweather will not fight Manny Pacquiao...yet. Manny will have to go back to the drawing board. He will have to do Pacquiao-Marquez IV and score a knockout victory.

I wouldn't go so far as to label Floyd Mayweather as Sidney Deane. Sidney would rather look good and lose than look bad and win. Floyd must win at all costs, but looking good is extremely important to him. Normal people wouldn't care whether the media would label him as "scared before, opportunistic now." Floyd? History has taught us that Floyd isn't normal. Floyd will look good whenever possible, so we'll have to wait a little longer for the fight we all want.

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