Irony knows many forms. For Manny Pacquiao, it couldn't possibly be more evident than his last performance on December 8, 2012.
The entire boxing world knows what happened.
The thing is, he looked in every way like the offensive virtuouso we've come to know and the world's best fighter, right up until the moment he walked into the equivalent of a land mine.
Perhaps it was pride, or the intensity of his rivalry with fellow all-time great Juan Manual Marquez that brought out the best in him a few months ago.
But what I am certain of, is that there a was a fight a few years back that forever took away a fighter of remarkable resolve that we'll never see again.
That fighter's name is also- Manny Pacquiao.
Recently, Floyd Mayweather decided to venture into the territory of Andre Ward with what anyone would deem fighting words. The problem is, the cowardly Mayweather has no intentions of backing up his tough talk in the ring with Ward, who would kill him.
I mention this because Pacquiao issued an edict to Antonio Margarito, a man Mayweather never wanted to face, who had disgraced boxing and was in many ways challenging Mayweather by confronting Margarito.
Pacquiao weighed approximately 144lbs at the weigh in, and according to Freddie Roach, was no more than 147lbs on fight night. Contrast this with Margarito, who came into the ring at 168lbs and was every bit a solid super-middleweight when he stood opposite Pacquiao in November of 2010.
Pacquiao turned in a masterful performance for the ages.
His footwork and movement was reminiscent of beautiful poetry. The offensive fireworks he displayed that night was better than anything you'd ever see on any 4th of July. The technical skills he had spent years refining were now at their peak, and he was as close to a complete fighting machine that I've ever seen.
But lost in the brilliance of that night were some subtleties that were delivered to him in the process. Antonio Margarito, cement in his hands or not, is one of the most heavy-handed fighters in the history of the 147lb division.
And during the 12 rounds he spent being chopped up by the Pacquiao artillery, he delivered some bombs of his own.
As fans watch fights on television, its hard to understand the impact of punches that don't "seem like" they're doing that much damage. Punches blocked on the gloves, arms or shoulders hurt too, regardless of who's throwing them.
But when you are being hit full force by a man who outweighs you by 20lbs, the results can be catastrophic.
Margarito had moments in that bout where he mauled Pacquiao to the body. He bounced enough super-middleweight shots off the head of Pacquiao to cause lasting damage, and chipped away at his granite chin and resolve of steel.
In subsequent performances since November 2010, we saw workman-like performances from Pacquiao in wins over Mosley and Marquez in 2011, and then the true manifestation of time in 2012.
The Pacquiao prior to Margarito would have dispatched Timothy Bradley with ease, and would've knocked out arch-nemesis Marquez.
Time will tell, if the time Manny Pacquiao takes to recover from the cruelest reality of the sport will reveal a reasonable facsimile of himself.
Because he's great- he can.
But what Antonio Margarito took from him that night during his butchery of the same man will never be replaced.
Size- does indeed matter.