SUPERFIGHT RISING: Pacquiao named WBC's #1 contender
This is absolutely huge, and a major indicator that the superfight with "you-know-who" is imminent. The awaited dream match may now be the next bout for them both. In a shocker, the WBC has installed Pacquiao as its top contender of the welterweight division in its latest rankings, dumping previous No. 1 Luis Abregu of Argentina. And guess who the current WBC welterweight champion is?
What's crazy about this is Pacquiao wasn’t even rated in the last rankings that were released during the boxing body’s annual convention in Bangkok just last month.
It is "very possible" that Golden Boy Promotions, who promote all of "you-know-who's" fights, may have had a hand in the rankings since it works so closely with the WBC. Showtime, who knows of Pacquiao's TV contract with HBO, may also be working behind the scenes to make this mega-fight possible. In my view, the onus is clearly now on Bob Arum to come to terms and allow this fight to happen, as it has never been closer to reality.
All of us know a great athlete when we see one.
May not be your favorite, but you know that this person is undeniably great. They make headlines and turn heads everywhere they go. Not so much for who they are – because we don’t really know – but for what they’ve done, and what we know they’re capable of doing.
Manny Pacquiao is an all-time great and one of the greatest fighters’s to have ever lived. Once you are universally regarded as great, you now face the greatest challenge of all.
You must compete against yourself.
To say that Pacquiao was fighting against himself, in addition to Brandon Rios on November 23rd, is an understatement. To say that he defeated both- is not. Part of human evolution involves age and its nuances that effect us physically. It’s at once subtle, but soon becomes glaring.
Especially for a prizefighter.
To be fair it’s really no different for most of us, as we all fight to live amid changes. And because we’ve seen the beginnings of many great fighters’ careers, we’re reminded of our own frailty when we see them coming to an end.
Pacquiao, once a devout Catholic, is in the midst of changes subtle that will soon become glaring. His legendary ring wars and bravery, and fierce commitment to offense while becoming a technical masterpiece, has surpassed its apex from attrition.
Manny was masterful against Rios. His marvelous footwork, ring generalship, hand speed and dynamic power punching variety were on clear display against a formidable opponent. The caveat, however, is that Brandon Rios is a solid one-dimensional “B” fighter.
Pacquiao now faces the prospect of an evil trinity. Of those three, none of them are named "you-know-who". He will either face Timothy Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez, or Ruslan Provodnikov on April 12 of next year.
All of them are daunting tasks for different reasons for Pacquiao.
The Rios performance was actually impressive for reasons not discussed often in its wake. You may not think so, but that was a grueling fight that required an unbelievable amount of energy and stamina. That he was essentially a super lightweight beating up an ever advancing bigger bull was impressive. Which brings me to Provodnikov.
Ruslan is another solid “B” fighter who would present Pacquiao with problems Rios did not. He doesn’t apply a constant, plodding type of pressure like Rios, but he strikes in fierce waves with very heavy hands. Pacquiao’s speed and quickness would allow him to prevail in a pitched battle- he would probably stop Provodnikov – but it would ruin him. “Provo” and Manny more than likely won’t fight, as I don’t see Manny having essentially another non-title fight against a friend and stablemate. Which brings me to Marquez.
This is a very good match-up for Pacquiao as he would relish a 5th chance with his arch-nemesis. The very real animosity he has for Juan Manuel, to go along with what I see in palpable speed and agility reduction in Marquez, would doom the proud Mexican. Using a more cautious – but quick, measured aggression- while systematically stalking a less mobile Marquez, Pacquiao would bludgeon his "old" rival. In getting as dramatic a victory over Marquez to avenge the one he got over him, Pacquiao would then seem to be on a clear course to “you-know-who”. But the curse of Marquez could never be ignored, as Pacquiao sees him every time he opens his closet.
Which brings me to Bradley.
In some ways, this could be the ultimate test for Pacquiao, and serve as a serious litmus test of his remaining greatness. Bradley is a stout warrior, a true survivor with savvy, and one of the best conditioned athletes in the world. He’s in his absolute prime and would probably have an ax to grind with Pacquiao. The thing is, it’s not heavy enough to chop down Pacquiao, whose own history suggests he’s better when he see’s you a 2nd time. This would also be the 3rd time Roach would game plan for Bradley, and upon seeing what worked for Provodnikov, Pacquiao would probably exacerbate what gave Tim issues in that fight, which means a dramatic KO is not out of the question.
But any such bout carries the possibility of moving him further away from the great fighter we all knew, prior to facing “you-know-who”. This has always been the desire of “you-know-who”, even as he thinks he’s frozen in time.
For Pacquiao, getting to that 3rd - and most likely- final fight of his major motion picture-like saga, will be a test of faith in atoning for demons past.
If only he can survive the ravages of the future.