COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
So Manny Pacquiao won in that “Dream Match” with Oscar De La Joya! The fight was a very good example for us Filipinos, especially Overseas Filipino Workers, to see that we can beat a bigger, taller, and more experienced foreigner in a foreign land. So much for colonial mentality.
I really expected Pacquiao to win basing only on his two fights with Eric Morales in 2006, and also, from the evaluation made by the American trainer Freddie Roach on Pacquiao while doing their training for his fight with De La Joya. In January 2006, Pacquiao floored Morales, who had not been knocked out before, on the 10th round. Then ten months later in November, Pacquiao knocked out Morales in what looked like a very devastating fight, in the third round.
Just basing on this performance, I can see that Pacquiao is improving at a very fast rate, as if moving in an upward curve. Beating Morales at the first quarter of a 12-round match means that Pacquiao has acquired a seventy-five percent advantage. In boxing, unless one gets knocked out or surrenders, each fighter has to endure until the last round after which points are being tallied. Pacquiao simply is advancing fast beyond his level or division.
Now with this bout with Oscar De La Joya touted as a mismatch due to De La Joya’s heavier weight and wider experience, I felt that Pacquiao was ready for the challenge. He could accept defeat being an underdog, and what he only needed to achieve was to score high points to narrow the gap between him and his opponent. And the weight and height difference was a lesser issue for me (I’ve seen young boys fight and a bigger physique isn’t a sure way to win) because Pacquiao’s weight is distributed at the right places. Look at his upper arm—bigger in girth and more solid and rock hard than De La Joya’s—source of the power punch.
When things are equal, that is, if De La Joya and Pacquiao are of comparable physical strength, the next determinant is stamina of which I see Pacquiao has an edge probably due to his younger age, higher motivation, and speed in movement. And when all other things are being equal, it ultimately becomes a mind game in which Pacquiao showed as the smarter guy. He’s very witty and skillful with his ‘hit and retreat’ line of attack, eluding most of De La Joya’s punches.
“He couldn’t do anything with his jab because I kept moving.” Pacquiao said, and exclaimed that “He was connecting with nothing.” Similarly, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach made the same observation. “He was moving so well, getting in, unloading punches and then getting out that Oscar really didn’t know where he was at times,” quipped Roach.
In a sport which is highly physical, one really has his time and while De La Joya appears to be moving past his prime, Pacquiao seems to be climbing at his peak. Manny Pacquiao is a great fighter and has improved much with his latest performance. But more than that, he embodies strength of character—power, determination, grit—as he faces the challenges in his life and career, and not without compassion and good humor. Markang Pinoy, and truly a hero we all are proud of!