Photo © Chris Cozzone / AFP
Given that Manny was so highly praised for being in sensational shape at the weigh-in, coming in at 129 pounds with his upper body looking really big, it was moderately surprising that he fired 16 pounds up for fight night -- the same amount of gain that doomed Diosdado Gabi on the undercard against Abner Mares, as Gabi looked out of shape and slow. The point of Gabi was not lost on Lampley and Co. on the HBO broadcast, but they never quite questioned Manny's gain the same way. Why?
He probably needs to go to 135 for weight issues, I suppose. Making 130 has reportedly not been easy for him the last few fights. But can he really make it at lightweight?
He will beat David Diaz, I am quite confident in that. It's not that Diaz is a bad fighter, but he's not world class or close to it. Tough guy, solid in most areas, but doesn't have the power to back Manny down, nor the speed to keep up with him.
After that, who does Manny fight? Nate Campbell has been talked about. If the Nate Campbell that beat Juan Diaz fights Pacquiao, the weight is going to be an issue. Nate is quick, hits hard, and has great stamina.
Pacquiao, I think, should do OK at 135. But he's not going to be the world-beater he has been at 130.
2. "The Mexecutioner" never got Marquez's number
Again, I scored this one for Marquez, very slightly. I don't disagree with the official decision. The books say Pacquiao won, and it's easy to make that argument a good one.
But unlike Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, plus all the others that fell, Manny Pacquiao's win over Marquez was not a "Mexecution." Marquez tasted Pacquiao's power, even went down early in the fight, yet came back to fight tooth-and-nail with Pacquiao the entire night. He has been the toughest test of Pacquiao's career in some ways. Yeah, Morales beat him the first time, but Pacquiao got that one back, and hard. Marquez's first fight rally was legendary, and his performance in the second bout was excellent. No one has ever pushed Pacquiao so hard in two fights.
I'm sure on many levels, Marquez feels as though he let the Mexican fight fans down. He didn't, and I'm not talking about just the mindless droves that will insult Pacquiao and blather on in loud tones about Marquez being "robbed," which is a foolish way to go about this. I mean even the fans that think he lost a tight one. How can you be disappointed? He fought beautifully, looked as good as ever, and can still, with Pacquiao leaving, claim his spot at the top of the 130-pound ranks. He's a great, great fighter.
3. PPV undercards remain a waste of time
This was the second straight undercard that wasn't quite boring (with the Pavlik-Taylor II fights), but what did it tell us about much of anything? What was memorable? What truly mattered? The only important fight of the six between the two shows was Fernando Montiel's win over Martin Castillo in February. This has gotten really old, but it's another one of those things that just will not change. Don't expect anything special on the undercard of Mosley-Judah, either.
4. No shakeup in P4P
Does the win make Pacquiao No. 1? No, not really. But I'll accept the argument easier than I have before. It's not about overall records. It's about how good you are right now. And safe or not, he beat Barrera convincingly. He just beat a game Marquez in a tight one. He's got his claims as the best right now. But he's about to move up, too, which is something to think about.
Does the loss move Marquez out of the top 5/6? Nah. Why should it? He fought great against another great fighter.
In short, nothing really changes. If Joe Calzaghe were to dominate Bernard Hopkins, then maybe you have another guy who could have an argument as No. 1 instead of Floyd. Maybe.
5. Fight of the Year?
Nah. It wasn't quite as good as Vazquez-Marquez III, and I don't think it's even all that close. As great as this fight was, it couldn't steal the thunder. But expecting both to still be top five at the end of the year is nothing crazy. It was a fantastic fight. Actually, it could be a great year at the fights and these could still be 1-2, as they sit right now.
6. Maybe not P4P -- how about biggest star?
This is a mild trick question. Who's the biggest mainstream name? Oscar is still the best-known, and then there's Mayweather, because he works on that. But worldwide, the biggest star in boxing is probably Manny Pacquiao at this point, though still behind Oscar, as de la Hoya is sort of a ringer, a global sensation for over a decade now.
But the three biggest attractions in the sport are Oscar and Floyd (two welterweights), and Pacquiao, who is moving to 135. The biggest heavyweight star (Wlad Klitschko) might sneak into the top ten attractions at this point. Miguel Cotto is a bona fide draw, Ricky Hatton remains a huge star, and Kelly Pavlik is fast moving up the chain.
7. What's next for Marquez?
He'll have options, but here's hoping he'll take on Joan Guzman after Guzman is done with Alex Arthur in Scotland. They're a pair of magnificently skilled, intelligent fighters, and both have the ability to bring good action, too. It would be an extraordinary chess match. Plus, Nacho against Floyd, Sr., for the gameplans? That's fun.
8. Those darned featherweights
After he dominated tough but still-raw Terdsak Jandaeng last night, Steven Luevano remained one of the top feathers in the game. Those clamoring for Guerrero-Luevano are a little weird, though. Who really wants to see Luevano fight? He's a good boxer and knows how to ply his trade, but Jesus, he is far from exciting. He has no real power, knows exactly when and for how long to back off, and is content to pepper his jab.
He's so content to jab and nothing else that if given the chance, he'll set CompuBox records. Luevano landed 240 jabs on Jandaeng last night -- the most ever in a CompuBox-tracked featherweight bout.
I get the feeling that were they to meet, Luevano would be overcome by Guerrero's intensity and power. Guerrero, unlike Jandaeng, can box well enough to force Luevano into a fight, and that's not the WBO titleholder's territory. When pressed into a fight against Jandaeng, he got floored. He never really went back into the danger zone again. Wisely.
9. Mares remains untested
As noted before, little-known Filipino Diosdado Gabi showed up in poor shape for his sacrificial lamb loss to top prospect Abner Mares, who dusted him out in two rounds without breaking a sweat. But it proved nothing more than we already knew about Mares.
Our own Kevin Gonzalez noted that he was yet to be truly impressed with Mares, or at least as impressed as comments from the likes of Oscar de la Hoya would lead you to believe he should be. I kind of feel the same way. He always looks good, but this isn't a Jorge Linares situation where it's pretty obvious to anyone with eyes that you're seeing the birth of a very special fighter that could be on the P4P list for the next decade, starting soon.
In fact, let's forget about Luevano-Guerrero. How abouut Guerrero-Linares instead?
10. The case of David Diaz
After watching Diaz never really hurt light-punching, highly-regarded sparring partner Ramon Montano in his easy ten-round unanimous decision (non-title fight), Kevin said that Erik Morales definitely should have retired and should not fight again, since a prime Morales would have killed Diaz.
No doubt about it. Diaz is a nice guy, an OK fighter. We've said that. But come on. Any champion worth their salt should get Montano out of there in five or six rounds. He's a sparring partner and nothing more. The man cannot punch (one knockout on his record), isn't notably good at anything, and even with a good chin, Diaz hit him enough that it should've mattered at SOME point. It was an entertaining if pointless scrap, but you're trying to sell me on the fact that Diaz, who couldn't get Montano out before 10 rounds (or even close to it), is worthy competition for Manny Pacquiao? Title or no title, Diaz-Pacquiao is about as intriguing on paper as Pacquiao-Solis was.
Oh, what's two more?
11. Love those Mexican-Filipino crowds
The passion of the crowd in Vegas was wonderful. They stood, shouted, cheered and chanted. Both fighters were shown great respect after the fight. The fans that booed Pacquiao during the fight largely cheered his effort. Same goes for Marquez, who was the crowd favorite. It was a great testament to the fight, the fighters, and their effort. And it still remains the greatest cultural rivalry in boxing at the moment, though much of it is centered on Pacquiao. Can't we get a Nonito Donaire a good Mexican challenge? He smoked Luis Maldonado. Maybe Juan Rosas? That could be a good one.
12. Close to the end
At 34, we have to realize that Juan Manuel Marquez doesn't have too many fights left, most likely. Should Marquez step down any time soon, he will have most likely come up just short in his quest to replace Morales and Barrera, at least in the eyes of most. But if you ask me, he's already done that, along with brother Rafael and Rafael's great rival, Israel Vazquez. The Mexican fight fans were left in great hands with those three, and there are plenty of guys up and coming that will fill the gaps.
Despite the lack of "El Terrible" and "The Baby-Faced Assassin," the Mexican fight game isn't really losing any steam. Along with what I'd call the big three, they Mijares, Arce, Montiel, Ponce de Leon, and many others. Not a bad group.