Manny Pacquiao: Do Training Issues Mean Game Over For Pac Man?
As Manny Pacquiao prepares for his November 13 fight with Antonio Margarito, the word leaking out of his training camp are a little more troubling than inspiring. A quick read of the press shows the Pac Man has an injured foot, has blown off some morning runs in favor of playing hoops, and has not exactly lit it up in sparring, causing trainer Freddie Roach to want to close it off to the viewing public.
Time to panic? Maybe not, as all this info is second hand and in the boxing world, so who knows what you can believe. But there are some troubling items that I think could spell doom for the Pac Man.
Motivation has never been an issue with Pac Man, but let’s face it—this is not the fight he wanted. He wants Floyd Mayweather, period. Psychologically, this is going to be an issue. He might think he is giving it his all, but somewhere in the depths of his mind and in his heart, the fact that he is not fighting Floyd has got to be a distraction.
It is similar to when a powerhouse team in any sport lines up against a team they are supposed to beat. Sometimes, those powerhouses lose focus, and then they end up losing much more. While Pacquiao has demonstrated his tremendous focus in all his fights to date, one has to wonder how into this fight Pacquiao really is.
Looking at Pacquiao’s most recent fights, he has always been against a bigger guy.
Against Ricky Hatton, Pacquiao made such quick work of him that the size was never an issue.
In the Oscar de la Hoya fight, Pacquiao’s signature speed was too much for de la Hoya, who was obviously shot in that fight.
The Miguel Cotto fight pushed Pacquiao and was probably among Pacquiao’s greatest performances.
Recently, Alex Ariza, his head trainer, said that the Cotto fight was the best training camp Pacquiao ever had and was the best shape he has ever been in. One could then conclude that Pacquiao did not train as hard for the Joshua Clottey fight.
While Clottey was in a shell most of the fight, when he did throw—which was rare—he made a mark, which was apparent looking at Pacquiao’s face after the fight.
Margarito, who is five to six inches taller than Pacquiao and may be 10-15 lbs heavier on fight night, will not go into a shell and will be the most physically imposing fighter Pacquiao has faced.
Pacquiao needs to get back to the intensity of the Cotto fight camp to make sure his signature speed and stamina move up with him with his weight.
Nothing To Lose
Margarito has been given a free pass after his reprehensible act of packing his gloves and then pretty much lying about it in hearings in front of state commissions when trying to get his license back. Now he has hit the lotto—a fight against the Pac-Man, pound for pound king.
You can bet that Margarito is salivating at this chance as the rewards for him are far greater with a win than they are for Pacquiao.
If Margarito loses, who will give him another fight? If he wins, his career will be resurrected.
This is do or die time for Margarito. Margarito has shown he is willing to do anything to win, even break rules.
I look for Margarito to lean on Pacquiao and use timely elbows and head butts as much as possible to attempt to rough up Pacquiao.
Obviously Pacquiao is now a Congressman for his native Phillipines. With that comes a lot of responsibility. In addition to that, Pacquiao is also a full fledged global icon, an aspiring singer, actor, semi-pro basketball player, businessman, husband, and father.
I do not begrudge him any of that, as he is taking full advantage of the opportunities boxing has provided and in all reality, I think he has a much higher calling than boxing.
However, it is only human nature that these items add up to being distractions to him for this fight. We have all ready seen a day here and there missed in training camp. While the night of the fight Pacquiao might be locked in, the distractions on the days leading up to the fight might prove to be too much to overcome.
While I am not ready to make a prediction yet in this fight, I do see Margarito as a bigger threat than many people out there. Not just his sheer size, but also how much Margarito has to gain by winning this fight really makes it tough for me to see Pacquiao as a shoo-in.
Training camp is still relatively early and there is plenty of time for Pacquiao to get into tip top shape. I think will need to regain his focus and intensity in training camp and on fight night to ensure he stays the pound for pound king.