CAN PACQUIAO CARRY THE WEIGHT?

MANILA
, September 7, 2005 
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson - Manny Pacquiao is expected to beat Hector Velazquez in their scheduled 12-round bout for the World Boxing Council (WBC) International superfeatherweight title at the Staples Center in Los Angeles this morning (Manila time) but the question is: Will he get the job done convincingly?

Last March, Pacquiao ventured into the 130-pound class and found Erik Morales too tough a nut to crack because the Mexican was much bigger. While Morales’ physique had naturally matured to fit a superfeatherweight frame, it appeared that Pacquiao forced the issue in his case.

As a featherweight, Pacquiao was devastating. He proved it by knocking out Marco Antonio Barrera two years ago. But against Morales, Pacquiao was reduced to a mere mortal. He wasn’t quite like Superman anymore because Morales, who was more physically imposing, could take his punches.

Velazquez will be a big test for Pacquiao because he’s a natural superfeatherweight. Throughout his career, Velazquez has campaigned in the 130-pound division. In contrast, Pacquiao turned pro as a 106-pounder and gradually moved up to 112, 122, 126 and now, 130 pounds.

Whether Pacquiao has metamorphosed into a full-fledged superfeatherweight or not is a question mark. It will show when he battles Velazquez.

The key is to grow naturally bigger without bloating the body. That way, a fighter is able to pack the same power from his previous weight. If the body isn’t prepared to carry the added weight, it will wear down fast in a war of attrition.

Now that Pacquiao is fighting as a superfeatherweight, his power must be commensurate to the division. A featherweight’s power just won’t create a stir among natural super-featherweights.

Pacquiao would like nothing better than to get another crack at Morales not only because the paycheck will set him up for life but also because it’s a pride thing.

Still, Pacquiao is not looking past Velazquez.

Here are the 15 factors that could determine the outcome of the fight.

• Power. Both are big punchers with frightening knockout records. Pacquiao’s KO rate (of his wins) is 79.5 percent while Velazquez’ is 73.8. Pacquiao has six first round KOs and Velazquez, three. Pacquiao has scored 27 of his 30 KOs inside six rounds. Velazquez finished off 26 of his 31 KO victims within six. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Experience. Velazquez has figured in 11 more fights and turned pro two years before Pacquiao. He has fought five world titlists. Edge: Velazquez.

• Arsenal. Pacquiao has a wider variety of punches. He has power in both hands and likes to confuse opponents with a mixture of hooks, crosses and uppercuts. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Hunger. This is a stepping stone for Pacquiao to clinch the Morales rematch but the fight has a much bigger impact for Velazquez who has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Edge: Velazquez.

• Corner. Freddie Roach has gained legendary status as a trainer. His presence in Pacquiao’s corner is inspiring. Velazquez’ trainer is Ricardo Torres whose reputation pales in comparison. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Conditioning. Velazquez trained over two months for Pacquiao and logged over 100 rounds of sparring. Pacquiao accumulated 95 rounds in four weeks. Pacquiao crammed for the fight and it could mean an early burnout. Edge: Velazquez.

• Courage. There’s no braver fighter than Pacquiao. He showed it against Juan Manuel Marquez and Morales. Pacquiao lives up to what is emblazoned on his trunks–No Fear. He isn’t easily intimidated. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Defense. Velazquez leaves nothing to chance. He’s methodical and patient. Pacquiao tends to let his guard down when he’s on the attack. Pacquiao can’t afford to get careless because Velazquez is quick to take advantage of the slightest opening. Edge: Velazquez.

• Mental toughness. Pacquiao is always psyched up to win. Losing isn’t an option. When the bell rings, Pacquiao has only winning on his mind. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Resiliency. Pacquiao made minimal adjustments during the middle rounds against Morales and paid dearly for it. Velazquez adapts to situations as they evolve as he did in outpointing Guty Espadas and Marcos Licona. It’s probably because he’s more experienced. Edge: Velazquez.

• Durability. Pacquiao absorbed a lot of punishment from Marquez and Morales but never went down. Velazquez has lost 10 fights, four by KO, but hasn’t been halted in eight years. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Quality of opposition. Velazquez has feasted on more patsies while Pacquiao has fought more toughies like Lehlo Ledwaba, Chatchai Sasakul, Barrera, Marquez and Morales. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Focus. It’s a word that Pacquiao has imbedded deep in his consciousness. He lacked focus against Morales because of out-of-the-ring distractions. Now, his feet are firmly planted on solid ground. Edge: Pacquiao.

because Velazquez is quick to take advantage of the slightest opening. Edge: Velazquez.

• Mental toughness. Pacquiao is always psyched up to win. Losing isn’t an option. When the bell rings, Pacquiao has only winning on his mind. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Resiliency. Pacquiao made minimal adjustments during the middle rounds against Morales and paid dearly for it. Velazquez adapts to situations as they evolve as he did in outpointing Guty Espadas and Marcos Licona. It’s probably because he’s more experienced. Edge: Velazquez.

• Durability. Pacquiao absorbed a lot of punishment from Marquez and Morales but never went down. Velazquez has lost 10 fights, four by KO, but hasn’t been halted in eight years. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Quality of opposition. Velazquez has feasted on more patsies while Pacquiao has fought more toughies like Lehlo Ledwaba, Chatchai Sasakul, Barrera, Marquez and Morales. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Focus. It’s a word that Pacquiao has imbedded deep in his consciousness. He lacked focus against Morales because of out-of-the-ring distractions. Now, his feet are firmly planted on solid ground. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Footwork. Velazquez is a plodder who leads off with a left jab. He’s constantly moving forward. Pacquiao has a little more foot movement. Edge: Pacquiao.

• Natural weight. Velazquez is comfortable as a natural superfeatherweight while Pacquiao’s body is still in the process of filling up. Edge: Velazquez.

In sum, Pacquiao has the edge in nine of the 15 factors.

To win, Pacquiao must start strong and not be lulled into a protracted waiting game. Velazquez will try to tire him out in the early going and fight patiently. Pacquiao shouldn’t allow himself to be overpowered on the ropes and in the corners. He should throw dizzying combinations and keep Velazquez guessing as to where the next punch is coming from. Pacquiao must always protect his body because Velazquez throws a mean shot to the chops.

It could go the distance but Pacquiao should end it by the eighth.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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