The esteemed Larry Merchant on HBO echoed what must have been in the minds of others who just witness MannyPacquiao win his seventh world championship in seven weight classes: “We thought he was great, but he was better than we thought.”
That statement at the end of the fight offically ends the period we shall call “The Under-estimation of Manny Pacquiao.” No matter what, Pacquiao keeps proving the doubters wrong with his lethal combination of spirit, charm, and boxing brilliance.
It’s easy to see how dismissive people can be of Manny. When I first met him, I was frankly stunned by his size. I was taller than he was. But who would put a dollar on me going 30 seconds with Manny?
He’s the guy who walks down the street you don’t figure him to be much more than the parking valet. But given the chance to prove himself, he wows you with a determination and skill far greater than his size.
Last night was a real milestone. For all of boxing’s cruelty, the weight class divisions are intended to make things fair so that a big guy can’t bully a little guy. It levels the playing field. So what does it say, when a guy keeps rising in rank, seven weight classes, and not just performs but excels at the highest level?
We’ve really got something special here. Far greater than anyone would have imagined. Pacquiao proved it in the ring last night.
Going up in class? No problem. Here’s a guy whose fists are affirmative action.
Pacquiao took Miguel Cotto’s savage punches like he was a “Rock’em-Sock’em robot.” When Manny’s head would snap back, I gasped. Cotto was bigger and more powerful than any of Manny’s previous opponents. So I admit I was concerned, especially by Cotto’s size. But then, Manny would come back and counter, as he did in the 4th round. Throughout the fight, Manny revealed his version of Ali’s “rope-a-dope.” Call it the “ropeless-rope-a dope,” out in the middle, fist-up, elbows together fortress style. It was there to let Cotto punch himself out. Then Manny would uncover and find a crevice in Cotto’s defense. A right hand then a left hook caught Cotto in the 4th for the second knockdown of the fight. It was the beginning of the end.
Cotto, as he was inthe Clottey fight, was badly cut and bleeding. So much vaseline and swabbing of blood. I said it would go TKO in the 10th. The fight should have been stopped after 9. Only the macho pride of Cotto would keep it until the 12th.
Now the talk is of the next fight. Everyone says Mayweather. Who is to doubt Pacquiao? The “Understimaton of Manny” has officially ended.