This weekend a huge fight is happening and I don’t think it’s been adequately hyped. It could be the type of fight that puts a charge into a rather average year for boxing. But any time Manny Pacquiao steps into the ring, the potential for that type of explosion is always there. Pacquiao will be facing WBC Lightweight Champion “Dangerous” David Diaz and is seeking to win a title in a fourth weight class.
Meet Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao. He’s a 29-year-old Filipino boxer who has been most accurately described by HBO boxing analyst Jim Lampley as “a storm.” That’s exactly what you get when you watch him fight. A storm of hype, a storm of flash and, most importantly, a storm of powerful, accurate punches. Though he’ll be moving up to lightweight for the first time to face Diaz, Pacquiao is widely regarded as being the sport’s hardest puncher (pound-for-pound, of course). His knockout ability has been compared to legendary fighters. And frankly, I haven’t seen a harder puncher since Mike Tyson’s early years. What’s great about Pacquiao though is that despite his enormous power, he throws tons of punches. He’s an action fighter and will brawl with anyone. Though his boxing skills have improved considerably – thanks to the diligent tutelage of long-time trainer Freddie Roach – Manny is a warrior at heart and will trade in close with anybody. If there was one boxer I would shell out $50 to watch, it’s Manny Pacquiao because he always puts on a great show and always gives you your money’s worth.
This will be Manny’s first fight since he inherited the title of “Best Pound-for-Pound” fighter in the world from Floyd Mayweather (following Mayweather’s retirement). Though that crown is purely symbolic, The Ring Magazine’s rankings are taken as gospel in the sport and Pacquiao has certainly earned the distinction. Not only is the flashy Filipino a talented showman, he’s also not afraid to fight anyone. His career record stands at 46-3-2 with 35 KOs. But two of those losses came very early in his career and the other was a defeat at the hands of Mexican legend Erik Morales in their epic battle on March 19, 2005 (I’ve posted video of the 12th round of that fight a ton of times on here but I can’t get over how great it was). Pacquiao avenged that night’s defeat by knocking Morales out in two follow-up fights. He also bested Marco Antonio Barrera twice and had a controversial draw and a win over Juan Manuel Marquez. So he’s gone 5-1-1 (with 3 KOs) against the three best fighters of his era at his weight.
What Pacquiao brings to boxing is unrivaled right now. He is exciting, powerful, skillful, fast and furious. He’s not scared of blood, and certainly not afraid to brawl. He’s everything you want a fighter to be. You simply can’t look away when he’s fighting because you may miss something spectacular. He is everything that’s right with boxing and I can’t beg you enough to give him a chance to dazzle you.
After all that buildup, you’d think there was nothing I could say that would give David Diaz a chance in this fight. That’s where you’re wrong. The 32-year-old Diaz will be in the battle of his life, and that’s exactly how he wants it. It is a dream fight for him and he’s earned it the hard way. The former U.S. Olympian from Chicago has battled all the way to the top of the lightweight division despite leaving the sport for two years in 2000. He’s 34-1-1, with 17 KOs and those numbers may not blow you over, but his technical skill and command of the ring make him incredibly difficult to fight. And despite his pedestrian 50 percent knockout rate, Diaz comes forward while constantly pressuring his opponents and he has a great chin to boot. The guy can take a punch with the best of them. Basically, he’s the perfect opponent for Pacquiao – a guy willing to come forward who won’t go down easily. Plus, it might be difficult for Pacquiao to maintain his power while moving up in weight.
Diaz has nothing to lose and that makes him dangerous. Pacquiao must maintain his focus and not gaze ahead at the potential blockbuster match up with Ricky Hatton that (likely) awaits him with a victory. Freddie Roach has always warned Pacquiao that his activities outside of boxing would eventually come back to haunt him. Manny has a reputation for partying hard, he’s also been in movies, made records, run for political office and he’s a world-class Nine-ball player. But something is different about him now. Lately he seems to realize that boxing is what has made him who he is. He has a different focus that hasn’t existed before. But, then again, anything can happen at any time in boxing and that’s what makes the sport so entertaining.
What do I see happening in this fight? I think it will end up going all 12 rounds. But it won’t be the type of 12-rounder that pisses you off. It will be a war. We all know Pacquiao will hold up his end of the bargain, the question will be how Diaz does. If he stands toe-to-toe and can take Manny’s straight lefts and right hooks (his two main weapons) without wilting, then we may have a daisy of a fight on our hands. I can’t wait to see what happens and I urge you to come along for the ride. You’ll be glad you did.