Glad to be here alone
With a lover unlike no other
Sad to see a new horizon
Slowly comin’ into view, yeah
The Isley Brothers, “For the Love Of You”
For Manny Pacquiao, his love affair with the people of the Phillipines is unique in the sport of Boxing. Not really of the tradition of Mexico, it is the way the small impoverished nation has embraced its native son and turned him into a national treasure that reverberated the world over that has been astounding.
Even more enthralling, was the way Pacquiao so captivated them- and us along the way, with a daring style that saw him evolve into the most complete and diversely destructive southpaw of all-time. While overcoming searing poverty as one of millions of non-descript people in General Santos City, his unlikely journey to superstardom and place among the pantheon of boxing greats has made him immortal.
But love can be as fleeting as the ocean sea and its accompanied cool breeze in clear weather. If it turns unrequited, the immensity of the sea becomes apparent and its waves angry, forcing you to hold on in uncertainty against its shifting tide. But for what we know about true captains, is that a smooth sea has never produced a skillful mariner, and that there is nothing more valiant than overcoming the forces of nature.
Will Manny Pacquiao summon the greatness to control and sail through the storm that is Brandon Rios?
It’s not only a question that compels his nation, but ours as well, particularly the nation of fans in fervent support of his arch-rival Floyd Mayweather. Rios believes he will capsize Pacquiao and sink his achievements into an even deeper memory. While Pacquiao’s rise to prominence was fueled by poverty and then public adulation, Rios seems to possess an engine that runs more on extreme pride than anything else, from the very beginning.
The one thing that now seems apparent to me after watching their “Face-Off” on HBO is how this fight will unfold. I have every reason to believe the 1st round will rival Hagler vs. Hearns and that we are about to witness an epic war. Pacquiao clearly views himself as a King removed from a throne he wants to reclaim, while Rios would be a commoner who wants to slay this King. Not so much for the throne- but for respect. I decided to match them opposite personality replicas of what they’ll face on November 23rd in the form of Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan.
Let the games begin.
Brandon Rios vs. Miguel Cotto
Freddie Roach has a new “old” toy in Miguel Cotto and showed him off in front of the world’s playground about a month ago. He was a stalking, relentless version of his former 140lb. menacing self, and made mince-meat out of what seemed to be a terrified Delvin Rodriguez. As Robert Garcia said, “Delvin fought like a little bitch!”, and he was right. I know Brandon wouldn’t- and you know that too. In the build up for a fight between these two, Cotto would conduct himself much in the same way that Pacquiao is now, only Rios would probably afford him a little more respect. That said, he’d irritate Miguel in a way that he’d keep to himself- like Manny is now. Cotto is a vastly skilled and versatile boxer in many ways and is very tough. He’s also one of the most mentally unbreakable fighters there is, with pride that might exceed that of Rios. Cotto is an “A-” fighter, meaning he’s elite- but not “super elite”. He can be bothered with the exceptional speed and power of such a fighter, who has the experience, intelligence and ring acumen to leave him undone. This doesn’t fit the criteria of Rios, I don’t think he’d be able to deal with Cotto’s more sophisticated skills and weaponry. This is a terrific fight for maybe 6 or 7 rounds, but then Cotto’s more polished overall game starts to assault Rios into near submission. After 9 rounds of action, Robert Garcia would mercifully halt things to protect his fighter from the systematic abuse at the hands of the Puerto Rican star. Miguel Cotto stops an unbelievably tough Brandon Rios via 9th rd TKO.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Amir Khan
Yeah, yeah they would say all of the right things, but eventually Khan’s mouth would reveal the underlying bad blood between these two. Did Khan really get the best of Pacquiao during those epic sparring sessions? Why did he flat out lie about flooring Pacquiao via Twitter (that was like, really dumb)? From what I saw- Khan got the better of Manny in sparring sessions. But that doesn’t necessarily tell us a whole lot. When you’re sparring with someone you “like” that’s a part of your camp, you aren’t really going as full throttle as you would under the brightest lights on a world stage. But my ‘o my can things change. Roach has utter disdain for Amir Khan now- and I don’t think Pacquiao is that far behind.
I believe this would be a great fight that would please Pacquiao’s legion of fans and exult an entire nation.
Khan is a gifted athlete and fighter. He has the size, the length and the speed to more than hold his own with Manny. Its an intense action fight, and I can see Khan having some moments in the initial 3 or 4 rounds. But gradually it’d get ugly; as Pacquiao would start to pull rank on Khan, and unveil notes about him he kept in his pocket. Khan, whose chin might’ve been made in the very arena where Pacquiao and Rios will fight in China, would find it getting severely tested in the middle rounds, getting chipped up from beautiful shots he wouldn’t see. As evidenced in his fights with Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia, Marcos Maidana and even some of his more recent outings, Khan can’t help getting into a back n forth dual. But once Pacquiao got him to go “back”, there would be no more coming “forth”. Dominating the last stanza of a truly great fight, Manny Pacquiao would conclusively grind his way to a thrilling 11th round KO of Amir Khan.