Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bleachers' Brew #163 Get in the Ring

After devastating wins over David Diaz, Oscar de la Hoya, and Ricky Hatton, think that pugilists are shying away from Manny Pacquiao? On the contrary, there' no shortage as they're like moths to a flame.

This appears in the Monday June 22, 2009 edition of the Business Mirror.
http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/sports/12047-get-in-the-ring.html

Get in the ring
by rick olivares

Manny Pacquiao must feel like a kid inside a mega toy store.

Except that he’s got the clout to pick what he wants without anyone telling him that he can’t.

There’s Sugar Shane Mosley, who in the twilight of his career is still full of fight after surprisingly dispatching Antonio Margarito. Now the former champ is calling out Pacman to do battle with him.

There’s Juan Manuel Marquez who is still claiming highway robbery to anyone who would listen that he should have won his second fight with Pacquiao who was declared the winner via split decision.

There’s the unretired Floyd Mayweather Jr. who had his own megafight with Marquez postponed from July to September after sustaining a rib cage injury while training.

As Pacquiao sat ringside at the Madison Square Garden to watch the Cotto-Clottey fight, he tapped promoter Bob Arum and said that he’d like to fight Cotto next. A November 14, 2009 fight date has been declared; enough time to give the Puerto Rican time to heal and recover from a deep gash he sustained from an accidental headbutt by Clottey in the third round of their match.

I recall a few years ago when boxing analysts were saying that the varying title belts didn’t mean much and being “the People’s Champ” meant more instead.

Now we see fighters scaling the weight classes up and down in search of prey and a higher payday. When veteran ring announcer Michael Buffer emceed the Pacquiao-Hatton fight, he correctly pointed out the bottom line when he said, “With their places in the Hall of Fame secure, there can only be one winner.”

After mowing down the best of Mexico, Pacman is looking to gobble up the big names of the day. And if he does, he will make good on Arum’s bold statement in the wake of the Filipino’s annihilation of Ricky Hatton that Pacquiao will be the greatest fighter who ever lived by the time he hangs up his gloves.

With Pacman the current face of boxing, everyone’s lining up for a shot at the champ. Why not? The pressure is now squarely on the Filipino. His opponents see an opportunity to climb up the food chain and even if they lose, they know it’s to a better man and a gentleman at that plus they get a huge payday.

As was the case in the Hatton fight, Pacquiao showed no letdown in focus or intensity. In his quest to scale new heights, Manny continues to demonstrate a willingness to learn and get better.

Now his current standing, something he’s definitely earned means that he can dictate the class in which the fight will be held or even the purse split.

Before Pacquiao touched gloves with Oscar De La Hoya, people were saying that Manny would have problems at the welterweight level (147 pounds) but he tenderized the Golden Boy en route to an eight-round stoppage. Against Ricky Hatton, the Champ was back at junior-welterweight (140) and knocked down the Mancunian three times at a class where he previously never tasted the canvas.

With reports that Cotto and Pacquiao will meet at the junior welterweight class there are concerns among the boxing cognoscenti that the drop in weight will not favor the Puerto Rican. The last time Cotto fought at that weight was in June of 2006 when he beat Paul Malignaggi via unanimous decision. Cotto then moved up to the welterweight class where he’s been fighting since.

Whether the sudden drop in weight will affect Cotto remains to be seen unlike Pacquiao who has shown a resiliency and adaptability in winning titles in six different weight classes. But box, Cotto certainly can.

It was theorized that Hatton would do de la Hoya better who was a human punching bag for Pacquiao. The Hitman would not only hit back but he’d take the fight to the pound-for-pound champ. But the Englishman’s punches were largely inconsequential and the only licks he got in were during the clinch. And as Freddie Roach said in the post-fight interview, “He fell right into our trap.” He was unprepared for the right hook and when he was looking out for it, he was floored by the patented left one.

A part of boxing as a sport is the smack talk that the Muhammad Ali elevated into an art form (along with the poetry of the heavyweight champ’s longtime cornerman Bundini Brown who Floyd Mayweather Sr. does a great impression). Remember when Mike Tyson threatened to eat Lennox Lewis’ children? Definitely, er, forgive the pun, not for public consumption.

During the highly-charged weigh-in prior to the Pacquiao-Hatton fight, Oscar de la Hoya cast his vote for the Brit when host Mario Lopez how he saw the fight: “If I had fought Ricky Hatton he would have knocked me out.”

Where’s your pride, Golden Boy? You knew you’d lose? Then it’s a good thing Manny sent you into retirement. Pacquiao didn’t knock you out because of that thick skull of yours but he sure did mess up your pretty face that even during the Hatton weigh in you still looked puffy.

With Mosley short of calling the Champ as a fraidy cat, one must remember that when Cotto knocked Sugar out, critics said he was old and past his prime. Now after tap dancing on Margarito’s face and spleen, he’s suddenly the perfect match for the Pacman. After the draw between Manny and Marquez, it took a long time before the return bout materialized as Pacquiao was made to wait. Now all of a sudden there’s an urgency to complete the Trilogy.

Last I counted it was a draw and a victory in Manny’s favor. Do we do a best-of-seven ala NBA?

For all of Pacquiao’s accomplishments, there are still those grudging in their praise which is really fine. Like Freddie Roach is wont to say, they do their talking in the ring.

The Pacman would not have it any other way. It’s like going to the bank… get a number and fall in line.


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The DVD of Pacquiao-Hatton 24/7 is on sale locally for PhP 300 (thanks to Martin D for my copy).

It's got the four-part HBO series, the 2-round fight between Pacman and Hitman, their weigh in, Manny's victory party and parade and a crappy interview.

It's only now that I realized that the narrator for the HBO 24/7 series is actor Liev Schreiber who last played Sabretooth in the Wolverine movie.

Coolness!

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