At this point, it's become an all-time dream fight. Jim Amato shares his feelings on what would happen if prime Manny Pacquiao met prime Roberto Duran.
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With all due credit, Manny Pacquiao is on top of today's boxing world. He is the "Man." His destruction of Oscar de la Hoya drove the "Golden Boy" into temporary retirement and put Manny as the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world today. His hammer job on the formidable Ricky Hatton put an exclamation point on his current status. Add in his outstanding performance against Miguel Cotto and only Floyd Mayweather Jr. can challenge Manny's #1 status. Hopefully they will meet in 2010 to settle the issue.
What if there was a fighter named Roberto Duran roaming the boxing landscape today? I'm talking about a lean, fit and motivated Duran. The Duran who defeated the talented Esteban DeJesus in their rubber match at 135 pounds. The Duran that practically shut out the gritty Carlos Palomino and handed the gifted Sugar Ray Leonard his first loss at 147 pounds. How would Manny match up with THAT Duran?
As good as Manny is and by God he is good, a top shelf Duran would have defeated him. Why? Because Roberto would have a trump card for everything Pacquiao would try to do. Manny has fast hands but Leonard's hands were faster. Manny is strong but Palomino and Leonard were stronger. Pacquiao has power but not the firepower that Leonard brought to the table. Manny is durable but no way he matches Palomino's whiskers. Manny can be slick but he comes up short next to Leonard and DeJesus in that catagory. Even the fact that Manny is a southpaw would have no bearing on this match up. In Duran's first bout with Hector Camacho he did exactly what you should do against a southpaw. Duran beat Camacho all night long with right leads and counter rights over the jab. He would employ the same tactics against Pacquiao.
As much as I like and respect Manny Pacquiao, there is no way I can convince myself that on his best day he could have defeated a prime Roberto "El Cholo" Duran.
Sports Illustrated cover courtesy the SI Vault.