Not only is Manny Pacquiao the best pound for pound fighter of his generation he is also in my opinion one of the very best pound for pound boxers of all time. In fact, I don’t think that anyone since the great Roberto Duran could claim to have achieved anything like what Pacquiao has. This little Filipino with the big heart has been involved in some of the best fights of the last decade, is now the first eight division champion and has been voted ring Magazines fighter of the year 3 times in the last five years. So what gives Pacquiao the edge over fighters like Ricky Hatton and Antonio Margarito
Speed kills and in the ring it can be devastating which is why there have been very few champions who didn’t have it in abundance. The reason why speed is such an important attribute is because if you are faster that your opponent you can control the fight by breaking his rhythm and forcing him to defend rather than attack. It is also true that regardless of how powerful your opponent is, his power becomes irrelevant if you are too fast to get hit. A classic example of this can be seen with the best boxer of all time Muhammad Ali who was never a big puncher but still managed to beat some of the best heavyweights in history by dazzling them with lightning fast jabs and lying back to avoid their counters. Therefore, when you have the dazzling speed of Manny Pacquiao you do have an advantage over slower opponents and a look at how he destroyed David Diaz to win the WBC World Lightweight Championship in 2008 is a classic example of how a boxer who possesses the hand speed of Pacquiao can leave his opponent confused, dazed and in a trance like state as his brain freezes under the onslaught. This was also what David Diaz concluded as he was quoted as saying after the fight “It was his speed, I could see the punches perfectly, but he was just to fast”.
No one could have won World Championships at eight different weights without having almost superhuman punching power. In fact what has let most great fighters down when they have tried to emulate a similar feat to that of the little Filipino is that they have lost their power when they have gone up in weight and fought naturally bigger opponents. This was the case with Roberto Duran when he fought Marvin Hagler for the WBA Light Middleweight Championship. Although it was a great effort and Duran became the first fighter to last the full 15 rounds against Hagler the power in his famous “Hands of stone” was not there. Manny Pacquiao is the exception to this rule as many of his opponents will testify and so amazing is his power that unlike any other fighter he seems to get more powerful the bigger he gets.
All great boxers need amazing reserves of stamina that can be called on when their opponent is tough and durable and this quality alone can be the thing that separates the winner from the loser. Have a look at round 13 of the Thriller in Manila to see what I mean because in this classic fight both Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali gave everything they had to give but it was Ali who had the better stamina which is why after one of the bravest rounds of boxing ever the Corner of Joe Frazier had no option but to throw in the towel to prevent him from suffering serious injury. In the case of Manny Pacquiao it is a level of stamina that few other boxers have that separates him from the rest.
No matter how fast, powerful, or fit a boxer is he will eventually be hit with a punch that puts mere mortals out for the count so a solid chin is essential to become an all time great. One of the best chins in boxing was that of British Middleweight champion Chris Eubank who was hit with devastating punches in fights with Nigel Benn and Michael Watson but seemed to shrug the blows off as if they hadn’t landed. Although Pacquiao has suffered two knockouts in his 58 professional fights it is obvious that he still possesses the same type of durability as Eubank which has enabled him to take the punches of far bigger Champions and still keep fighting.
All fighters are tested at some point and most of us will find reserves of courage to come out for one more round even when things are not going our way. However, to have had the fights that Manny Pacquiao has had and to have been tested as he has is something that us mere mortals could not associate with or emulate if we wanted to. Such courage is given to very few in life or boxing but the ones who have it become legends.
Although Manny Pacquiao has the gifts mentioned it is not one single attribute that separates him from the rest but the combination of speed, power, stamina, durability and heart. The fact that he is trained by the best in the business “Freddie Roach” is a great advantage which has helped him improve dramatically over the years but ultimately Manny Pacquiao is the rare breed of fighter who comes around only once in a generation as I am sure has crossed the mind of the reluctant Floyd Mayweather Jr.
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