I think Manny Pacquiao’s loss to Timothy Bradley is a clear indication that he is on the decline. He is now 33, so age-wise he is on that bracket where he is past his peak, and where you can expect him to slowly go down in terms of his athletic capability.
‘First Two Signs’
The first sign was in his fight against Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley. After a spectacular 12th round knock out of Miguel Cotto, he was unable to knockout his next three opponents. Although he did look impressive against Margarito and Mosley, he was unable to knock both of them out, and had to settle for just a dominating performance.
At that time, I thought his opponents were just getting too big for him. Punches that would’ve been enough to bring down lighter and smaller opponents now only sting these bigger and heavier opponents, not enough to bring them down for the count.
The next sign was his third fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. It was a fight that I felt JMM clearly won, and Manny was just so lucky to come away with a win. Manny himself looked surprised when his name was announced as having won that fight. And it was a very POLARIZING fight, with people ending up clearly around both ends of the opinion of who won. Manny himself even said something like, “If you are Filipino, you would not put me down”, or something to that effect in response to the criticism that he did not deserve the win.
Many Filipino fans themselves say JMM clearly should’ve been awarded the win, while Pacquiao Fanboys and Nuthuggers insist it was Manny who won. The cite the Compu Box stats as showing that Manny landed more “heavier” shots. But I disagree, as despite Manny landing those supposed heavier shots, it did not slow Marquez down and keep him from fighting back. In fact, none of those “heavy” shots were enough to knock Marquez out.
‘The Third Sign, the Bradley Fight’
Coming into this match, both Alex Ariza and Freddie Roach were telling the media how fit Manny was, how fast he was, how he was going to knock out Bradley, blah-blah-blah. But they said the same thing before the Marquez fight, saying things like, “Manny is now too heavy and powerful for Marquez”, and look how that turned out.
In this fight against Bradley, I felt Manny again came up with an unimpressive performance. While he may have landed the heavier shots, again as per the Compu Box stats, they were not enough to slow Bradley down, or even mark his face. None of his eyes were close to closing out after the fight, and definitely Bradley remained active and fighting back until the end of the fight.
In fact, the TV Commentators on local TV, who you expect to be more biased for Manny, even cited how Manny seemed to have slowed down starting from the 6th Round. They speculated on whether he was cramping up again, or something. On the other hand, the Top Rank Commentators were more objective, even pointing out the possibility of an upset when the later rounds started. One commentator even said Bradley was ahead, and deserved a win.
In my view, Manny lost this fight because the American Boxing Judges did not see it fit to award him the win for another mediocre performance. They were not willing anymore to support Manny of an undeserved win like they did with the Marquez fight.
‘What’s Next for Manny’
First, if he is going to fight against Bradley, I think it will have to be done at 145 lbs. maximum instead of the 147 lbs. maximum they set for this fight. It seems 147 lbs. is too heavy for Manny to carry already for all 12 rounds.
Next, they have to find a way to light that fire or hunger inside Manny Pacquiao. It seems no matter how hard he tries, he just finds it difficult to stay away from the lure of a good life. His wealth is making him soft, knowing that whether he wins or loses, he is set for an ultra comfortable way of life for the rest of his life. And it seems no amount of Bible-Study is able to keep him away from that lure.
His wealth makes him just a little bit more lazy, cutting small corners here and there just to make himself more comfortable. He is getting spoiled, and has to keep dragging himself to prepare for these fights. Sacrifices that he used to do before, he now sees as a burden as his focus is not necessarily on wining anymore.
I feel Bradley-Pacquiao 2 is a make or break for Manny Pacquiao. If he is unable to come up and knock out Bradley in their 2nd fight, then I feel it means officially Manny will be over-the-hill already, or a has-been. Deep inside, I doubt if he will care if he is a has-been, as he is just so rich already.
Freddie Roach said something that he will be the first to tell Manny to retire, but I doubt that, judging by the way he strongly defended Manny’s mediocre performance against Bradley. If Freddie himself cannot admit Manny is on the decline, then who else can tell Manny? Nobody, and he will just have to find out about it the hard way inside the ring.