I was thinking last night of Naazim Richardson's quote back in May where he said something to the effect of, "The only thing Shane Mosley did tonight was give everyone a blueprint on how to beat Manny Pacquiao."
I was going to write something about that this morning, and then I read that Richardson had offered his thoughts on Saturday's Pacquiao vs Marquez fight to Chris Robinson of the Examiner, so here's what the man himself had to say:
"Taking nothing away from Pacquiao, he’s a phenomenal fighter, and probably the most dangerous cat in the game, especially in any of those weights lower than Klitschko, but Marquez is another level of boxing. Marquez is Alexi Arguello, Marquez is Ricardo Lopez. He’s the little professor, Azumah Nelson. ... You can easily go back and watch Shane Mosley box Pacquiao and you see him get hurt and you wonder why he never gets hurt again. And if you just watch the fight and once you see that, every fighter is going to apply that method. Marquez did it in this fight and everybody else is going to do it. And once that’s revealed, eventually it’s just a matter of a timeline. It’s whether Freddie is going to make adjustments to the guy because it’s hard because the defect he has, he’s had since he’s been boxing."
I think it's fair to say that Naazim, who is a tactical genius of a trainer just like Roach or Nacho Beristain, was on to something in May.
Though it may have been running, since Mosley didn't do much throwing back, Shane did show that Pacquiao isn't so amazing when faced with someone who can move around the ring. When an opponent can limit his punch output, Manny doesn't look so totally invincible. CompuBox totals for Manny's fights since going up to welterweight:
|Oscar De La Hoya
|Juan Manuel Marquez
* This is only counting the first 11 rounds. Pacquiao also threw 26 punches in 55 seconds in round 12 before the referee stopped the fight.
I think we can say fairly that Pacquiao was at his most physically dominant -- his fastest, his sharpest, his most powerful -- in the Oscar, Hatton, and Cotto fights.
After that, you have two different Mannys, and they rely on the opponents' strategies. Neither Clotty nor Margarito were movers. Clottey chose to make himself a wall, standing still and allowing Pacquiao to bang! bang! bang! away at his forearms, while Margarito chose to make his face a wall. Margarito moved a bit more than Clottey, stalking and trying to trap Manny on the ropes, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that Antonio's performance in that fight isn't remembered for his footwork.
Mosley, on the other hand, used his feet. Yes, it was largely in avoidance of further contact, but he did it, and Pacquiao got a much publicized leg cramp. However it came about, either through age or the inability to move as well as he used to, Manny was slowed down, and as his output dropped, so did the explosive nature of his offense when it's firing on all cylinders, when he has an opponent who obliges and lets him work away with rat-tat-tat combinations.
Marquez upped the ante by actually adding his own offense. He made Pacquiao chase, which Mosley did, but also threw punches and didn't shy away from actually being in a fight, unlike Mosley. In the end, I think Naazim Richardson had tried to work off of some of the things that Marquez did with Pacquiao in their first two fights, but Mosley couldn't execute it properly. It sounds insane now, but I think Richardson felt on fight night that Mosley could have won -- felt so during the fight. But Shane was too old, trigger shy, and worn out to make it happen.
Marquez and Beristain used their own familiar game plan, new evidence, and maybe a little bit of the Richardson/Mosley plan, if not its failure to launch, in what they did on Saturday.
The "secret" is now out, though, and as Richardson says, it's up to Pacquiao's team to try to find some way to fix the flaw, or else fighters are going to be working off of this game plan for as long as Pacquiao continues to fight. Whether Manny Pacquiao can be changed at age 32 is another story.