Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Manny Pacquiao: From Famous to Infamous In One Fell Swoop
Hey, he’s one up on Floyd Mayweather Jr. and has a higher KO percentage. Am I saying Chavez Jr. is as good as Mayweather? Of course not, but I think you get my point. An undefeated record doesn’t make a fighter the greatest thing to ever step between the ropes. In contrast, Pacquiao has taken on all comers. He has convincingly KOd future hall of famers— Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto. Many great fighters have been felled or outclassed by his relentless, non-stop ring brutality. He was knocking out the toughest available adversaries in early rounds long before the world ever heard his name. His reputation as one of the great gentlemen of sport has rivaled the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman. He becomes friends with his opponents during the press tours. He smiles during the promotional stare-downs. Recent photos of him squaring off with Joshua Clottey show Clottey smiling back. Clottey recently stated that he likes Manny and that he’s his favorite boxer. Manny Pacquiao’s legacy was sealed as one of the greatest sportsmen and best fighters in the history of boxing. Enter Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the PED accusations. Reputations are fragile. Words can easily destroy them. Legacies can be brought down buy any hint, insinuation, allegation, or accusation of foul play. I don’t think Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever wanted to fight Manny Pacquiao. (That’s speculation.) Mayweather has exhibited behavior that has an extremely strong semblance of insane jealousy. (That’s a fact.) What would the self proclaimed “greatest fighter ever” have to be jealous about? Maybe it was Pacquiao’s accomplishments and favorable public profile. Maybe he’s a little envious of that pound for pound title—the title that used to be his. So did Mayweather really set out to destroy Pacquiao’s good guy persona? Was he determined to discredit all of his accomplishments in the sport? Or was he really just trying to ensure a “level playing field”. Could it be all of the above? Regardless of intent, the allegations have been made, and to many this means there is a cloud of doubt hanging over Pacquiao’s achievements. Boxing writer, George Kimball recently compared the situation to a particular exchange that occurred between former House Representative, Richard Kleberg and his young congressional aide, and future president, Lyndon B Johnson. Upon facing a rival politician while running for re-election, Kleberg was desperate to come up with a strategy to discredit his rival. He suggested that they start a rumor that his opponent often engaged in bestiality. Johnson told Kleberg that they both knew that wasn’t true. “Yeah,” replied the congressman, “but watch what happens when the [%*&] has to stand up and deny it!” Mayweather has engaged in similar, dispicible tactics and although there is absolutely no evidence that Pacquiao is a cheat; the allegations linger in the minds of many fans. Even in the midst of the promotions for his fight with Clottey, Pacquiao has to deal with constant questioning from the media. What will become of the legacy of Manny Pacquiao? Will all of this finally just blow over? Not a chance. If Pacquiao defeats Clottey, boxing fans will once again be screaming that familiar chant—“We want Floyd! We want Floyd…” Pacquiao has stated that he still wants to fight Mayweather. When new negotiations begin, the same old arguments concerning random blood testing and cut-off dates will begin anew. Pacquiao is a man of principle and pride. He doesn’t want to obey Mayweather’s commands and that’s completely understandable. After all, Olympic style drug testing is completely outside the realm of what fight negotiations have ever consisted of in the past. However, the proposal has been made and it’s going away. People can say what they want about the potential matchup. “It’s overhyped”; “it would be a boring fight”, etc. The fact remains that boxing fans will continue to cry out for a contest between the top two pound for pound fighters on the planet—and rightfully so. For the sake of the legacies of both fighters and for the good of the sport, this fight needs to happen. I believe that Manny Pacquiao is innocent of using PEDs. I also believe that he is under absolutely no obligation as a boxer or as a human being to subject himself to anything that he chooses not to. However, there comes times when a man has to weigh things in the balances and make a decision based on the lesser evil. Let’s be honest. What is the most logical solution to this dilemma? Should Manny allow his record to remain so thoroughly tarnished, or should he take some random tests with a reasonable cut-off date? Let’s hope that the fight can be made some time in the future. Due to the tremendous public demand, I tend to believe that it will. If and when it’s made, I don’t think Manny will be smiling during the promotional stare-down, and I don’t think Floyd will be smiling at the end of the fight.