Post-Fight Thoughts: Pacquiao forges through the Desert Storm

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In a fight card that was embarrassingly weighted towards the main event, Pacquiao pulls out a win, showing no fear against repeated rights to the face. I winced every round, fearing another knockout, but slowly gained confidence as the 8-time world champ settled into a rhythm that he was determined to reach in the middle of the fight. On the surface, it was one-sided in that “ring aggression” but despite HBO commentators obvious bias, Bradley was hitting Manny very well, making every round a true risk. After 3 hours of boring undercards, the main event felt like all of 15 minutes of electric action.

It was clear that Bradley did his homework and came in to win. His footwork, upper body movement, and reflexes frustrated Pacquiao to no end. I even felt that Manny might have sweated how he looked in the beginning rounds as his furious combinations were either hitting air or glancing blows. The crowd roared regardless, and HBO commentators still swooned at their filipino cash cow. However, as the sometimes-astute Max Kellerman interjected, Bradley’s 200% focus slowly wore off in the middle rounds and external pressures (Dionisia Pacquiao‘s curses/calf injury) pulled away that winning focus and Bradley started to lose rounds. If you were watching last night, it was really Bradley’s fight to lose, and that’s exactly what happened in the ring. Manny was in superb condition, and approached every round rushing at Bradley. Slowly, Manny’s tree-chopping bore fruit.

Last night’s fight also showed me was how a future hall of famer wanted to tell his story.  Manny was built by the machinations of the modern boxing industry. Arguably, you could also say his popularity heavily influenced the past 10+ years of boxing, where suddenly judges were easily swayed by “activity” and “punch volume”.  What was hidden in Manny’s frequent comparisons to “hurricanes” or “flurries” was Manny’s eyes. His targeting skills and reflexes were just as important as what his arms and punches were actually doing. I was really hoping for a response to the vulnerabilities that Marquez revealed and it seems like Manny was trying too, but Bradley, Diaz, and his team obsessively prepared to turn Manny’s offense to a liability, and almost executed their game plan to a T. Do you know another certain undefeated boxer probably wanting to orchestrate a finale to an undefeated career?

 

As a fight fan and a Manny Pacquiao fan, I appreciate the talents displayed in the main event, especially the homework Timothy “Desert Storm” demonstrated. Those first 3 rounds were the result of 2 years of miles, tears, and obsessive focus that Timothy wanted to demonstrate to the world after that fateful fight in 2012. I was very impressed, and so should every welterweight in the world.

As for Manny, I wish him some well deserved rest and family time. I hope he doesn’t feel like he has to be boxing martyr to entertain fight fans around the world, because I feel like he wants to shoulder that responsibility every time he gets into the ring. It’s that core feeling of stewardship he’s always harbored that makes him want to pursue leadership in politics, and I totally understand. But I also don’t want him to fall on his sword if a future opponent exploits his vulnerabilities that are out there for the world to see. On the day he decides to retire from boxing, I want him to walk out of his last fight on his own accord, and with all the mind and heart that he walked into it in the first place, nothing less.

Congratulations Manny, God speed.

 

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