Saturday, March 13, 2010
A Welterwiehgt Fighter Ready for Welterweight Fight
It is for that reason that I'm glad that Manny Pacquiao is defending his welterweight title at the limit of 147 pounds. This time, there is no need for a catchweight as Pacquiao has proven to be a legitimate welterweight. I have never been critical of Manny Pacquiao's lone use of a catchweight in his previous high-profile fight against Cotto as the circumstance proved the catchweight to be within reason. When Manny Pacquiao faced Oscar de la Hoya, there was no catchweight. Pacquiao was coming up two full weight classes to face the sport's biggest draw. It was a big risk for the then lightweight champion, but the reward far outweighed that risk. Many were looking to crucify Oscar before ink was put to paper for that fight, simply because of his willingness to look for a challenge so many pounds below him despite his original promise to fight the winner of the Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto bout. It was Oscar's return to the welterweight division, a weight he hadn't fought at in nearly 7 years. Unfortunately for the Golden Boy, his future plans were spoiled on that night in Vegas and, with the victory, Pacquiao went from Filipino icon to international phenom. Manny was still that phenom, and moreso, following his move back down to the 140-pound division and a short destruction of Ricky Hatton. He would quickly move back up in weight to face his first "true welterweight" in Miguel Cotto. Questions remained, however, regarding Manny's ability to take a "real welterweight" punch, due to the fact that De La Hoya had to melt away those extra pounds just to make 147. Some felt that the weight loss may have weakened him. As such, perhaps being cognizant of the fact that he had yet to face a natural welterweight still in his prime, Pacquiao required Cotto to defend his welterweight title at a catchweight of 145 pounds. It was the first and only time that Pacquiao had ever requested a catchweight for a bout and given his quick jump up in weight, the request was justified as there were still questions as to whether or not he really belonged at welterweight. During the course of 11 brutal and memorable rounds with Cotto though, and in the immediate aftermath, all questions were answered. Clottey is a welterweight, not a 145-pounder. Miguel Cotto was the guinea pig and the public was able to find out what Manny Pacquiao can do in the vicinity of 147. Now it's time for the Bobfather and International Player Freddie Roach to prove the hypothesis is correct. No more lab experiments. As spectacular of a victory over a weight-drained Joshua Clottey would be, nobody would have wanted to see the heavily muscled Ghanaian coming into the fight looking like he's on an Ethiopian "Feed The Children" commercial. The last thing boxing needs is another Pacquiao victory called into question. This time, his bout with Joshua Clottey is no scouting mission into the 147-pound division. This is a man [Pacquiao] who holds the WBO World Welterweight Championship and, as such, his opponent will not be required to cut additional weight below the limit that championship bouts are normally contested at. Earlier this month, I was quick to agree with Team Pacquiao's argument that all drug testing should be done under the existing rules for a championship fight governed by the existing authorities. As such, this battle will also rightfully occur at the weight mandated by the rules that are already in place, for the integrity of the title and the integrity of the event itself. As we begin 2010, it would be an understatement to say that Manny Pacquiao has created quite a place for himself in the sport. For the sake of boxing, I hope the place that he is occupying isn't too big for him to legitimately fill. One must wonder if too much is being expected of Pacquiao and if his team, at least some of them anyway, might feel that way as well. If Pacquiao were to face Clottey, a man known for struggling to make weight, at a catchweight, it would be a travesty and his team knows it. I, along with a lot of other fans, have no interest in watching the best version of Manny Pacquiao do battle with the worst version of Joshua Clottey. If Pacquiao is going to face Clottey, he will face the best possible Joshua Clottey, not one that was defeated at the negotiating table long before bell time. Yes, Manny Pacquiao is now a real welterweight champion, defending his title at 147 pounds.