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, May 3, 2015

Breaking down Floyd Mayweather's win over Manny Pacquiao

This appears in the Monday, May 4, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

Post-Money-vs-Manny: A greatly missed opportunity
by rick olivares pic by getty images

It is barely 10 minutes after I Tweeted before the official decision that Floyd Mayweather would the superfight from Manny Pacquiao by “Unanimous Decision.”

Emotions are raw and a national pride is pricked. People lament the clinching, grabbing, and hooking by Mayweather as foul and are citing the flurries by Pacman as reasons why the latter should have won.

Except as painful as it sounds, Manny didn’t win it and he didn’t do enough to win it (the Compubox scores are already telling as it is).

In an interview with Al Jazeera (via video patch) last Saturday evening, I was asked how I saw the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. I said several things: that whoever imposes his game plan on the other would win it; and that it will go the distance. For Manny to win it he had to bring the war to Mayweather’s doorsteps early in the fight. I appreciate the all-around action style of Manny that has endeared him to many fans all over the world but when you’re older, you have to be cleverer. It like trading the dunk for a jumpshot. It’s like going for singles as opposed to swinging for the fence.

For Floyd to win it, I said that he will stick and jab, then dance away. Frustrate Manny then stick and jab again. He’d win it by earning points and winning rounds en route to a decision. Could be a split decision or an unanimous decision but a decision nevertheless.

I thought that Floyd had this fear of losing to Manny. For sure, he does care about the streak. Anyone in his place would. For the first time, he didn’t talk pre-fight trash. The only thing he said was that he was the greatest and not Muhammad Ali.

The once-fearless Floyd Mayweather Jr. knew fear. And I thought that would make him even more of a canny fighter. The days when he knocked out foes with routine ease are over (just as they are for Pacquiao). Instead, of late, he won on smarts, guile, and the tricks of the trade.

And it played out exactly like that against Manny.

Floyd was smart in fighting Pacquiao. Stick and jab. Dance out of harm’s way. If Manny got some licks in, clinch – all legal, of course. Force Kenny Bayless to separate them. That would hurt the momentum of Pacquiao and give Money time to regain his bearings. Then he would let that over-eagerness of the Filipino make him careless when he waded in. He waited for Pacquiao to commit mistakes then he threw some telling shots that had Manny all red in the face.

I thought that in the first round, Floyd’s superior reach definitely prevented Manny from fighting up close. The tactic of jabbing coupled with straight shots then clinching should have not gone unnoticed by Freddie Roach.

By Round Three, they should have changed tactics by attacking. I felt that maybe Manny was a little cautious about getting knocked out. Did his corner do him a disservice by not telling him how it was going? That he was losing? That Floyd pretty much had his way in the ring?

In stark contrast, Mayweather Senior let his son have it. He said it in full HD view on what his son wasn’t doing right and what his son needed to do. That forced Floyd to come out firing in the fifth round (after Manny took Round Three).

By Round Nine, Manny should have really stepped on the gas pedal. Instead, he simply fought using the same style. Furthermore, with no sense of urgency. And that is where the coaching staff failed Manny too. I can’t see how they thought he was winning because he was getting seriously tagged. For the first time, Manny couldn’t mount any serious offense.

Someone told me that Manny was fighting injured (a rotator cuff injury). Whether he wasn’t 100% or not, the fact that he was cleared to fight means he is good enough to go.

When I was in second year college, I watched the fight between Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard. I rooted for the former who had a style akin to Manny’s. I thought that Hagler won the fight but Leonard escaped with a controversial split decision. That was my education to the sport. I will never forget in a post-match article in the New York Times, how the judges explained that while Hagler was the aggressor, “he wasn’t an effective aggressor” because his punches either missed or didn’t hurt Leonard at all.

Honestly, it really hurts that Manny lost. Do I see him retiring? Maybe not. Maybe he’s got one more going away fight. I’d love for him to hang it up so he doesn’t damage his legacy anymore. However, as Michael Jordan once said after media postulated that playing for the woebegone Washington Wizards would hurt his legacy, “That’s for you to decide.” Fortunately, for Jordan, missed playoff spot for Washington or not, he is still universally regarded as the GOAT.

I would have loved for Manny Pacquiao to be hung with “the Greatest” tag. Instead, as unpopular as Mayweather is, he owns it (as much as Muhammad Ali would protest).


Additional reading on Why Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather will win

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