Ahead of the Filipino legend’s BoxNation screened defence with Australia’s Jeff Horn in Brisbane this weekend, the polished Penge pug divulged to Glynn Evans his secrets to snaffling the Pacman.
“Firstly, I have to stress that my focus is completely on securing the Lonsdale Belt outright by beating Dale Evans at The Copper Box on July 8th. I’m only discussing Pacquiao because you’re asking me to comment.
I’ve been a big fan of Manny’s for years and you certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be messin’ with him in his prime about eight years ago. Back then, he was utterly relentless. A combination of his speed, power and work rate made him very difficult to beat, even though he invariably challenged himself against guys who were naturally bigger. His power came through his speed which was really spiteful.
However, lately he’s become heavily involved in the Church and, while that might have made him a better human being, I think it’s probably detracted from him as a fighter; taken away some of the nastiness. Since finding God, he smiles during his ring walk and he seems happy to outbox opponents in glorified spars. He’s happy to move you around for 12 rounds whereas, before, he was proper vicious.
He still seems to have his speed and footwork – he’ll always be competitive whilst he retains that – but he used to go at opponents, then go again straight away before they could re-set. That appears to have gone in his most recent fights. His workrate’s dipped and he’s not as relentless. He’s lost a bit of edge. He’s not stopped anyone since Miguel Cotto and that was almost eight years ago.
And at 38, and with the wear and tear of so many hard fights against the elite champions, he’s certainly not gonna get any better. He could suddenly become an ‘old fighter’ overnight and somebody’s gonna get lucky. Hopefully that could be me!
These days, he has all these outside political interests and, alongside becoming a devout Christian, I’m not sure he gets to the gym as much as he did once, or spars as often. He certainly doesn’t fight as regularly as once he did. He needs to be mindful of these young, hungry up and comers who live in the gym like Jeff Horn......and Bradley Skeete!
Okay, Manny’s done well in the past against taller fighters – he gave Antonio Margarito a vicious beating , bust him up proper bad, in one of his finest performances – but, over the years, he’s had most trouble with the exceptionally skilful types, like (Floyd) Mayweather and (Juan Manuel) Marquez. That gives me confidence.
Though Marquez only won one of their four fights on the official cards, he was always something of a bogeyman who the Pacman struggled to cope with. Floyd just shut him out completely with his defence but that wasn’t the ruthless, relentless Pacquiao of the late noughties, when the fight should’ve happened.
Put me in with him and I’ll show you how to do it! Against very skilful fighters, Pacquiao gets a bit reckless, throwing wild combinations as he charges forward. He leaves himself open to counters. I think the secret is to give him quick feet and counter everything he does as he rushes in, before stepping out of range.
With my big advantages in height and reach, that’d be easier for me to do than a lot of other fighters. When I met Manny, he was really looking up at me. He’s tiny. My size would make things very difficult for him. And I’ve done well against southpaws in the past. I still think I deserved the decision against Frankie Gavin and I’ve improved a lot since then. My size and style makes me awkward against every opponent; orthodox or southpaw. Let them worry about me.
I’d be looking to get him on the end of my jab, set him up for the right hand, then stick him on his arse! He’s not really shown vulnerability – the shot Marquez done him with would’ve flattened anyone – but he’s coming to the end of a very long, hard career. He could ‘go’ at any time.
He’s in decline but certainly not finished. It wouldn’t be ‘foregone’. If he managed to take away my range and still has the speed to get close, I’d be in for a long painful night. He’s a great fighter, a real legend. But we’ve not seen that of late. I doubt he can sustain that aggression now.
It might be a case of me reverting to the things that I got criticised for coming through; getting on my bike and being sharp and clinical with the jab, stopping him getting into range. You’d not want to engage Manny, not want to give him any chance. Whatever it takes.
He’s Hall of Fame but, at this stage, I’m confident I could beat him in either London or Vegas....then they can ‘show me the money!’
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