By Ryan Maquiñana
Manny Pacquiao’s last two outings have not met the former pound-for-pound king’s lofty standards. But as he heads into his April 12 rematch with Timothy Bradley, there’s a fine line between having a sense of urgency and forcing the issue to excess.
“We're not focusing on the knockout,” Pacquiao said. “Our focus this time is to ... put more aggressiveness and throw a lot more punches. If the knockout comes, it comes. I just want to prove I still have the hunger and killer instinct.”
That eagerness to show off that killer instinct worked against Pacquiao in his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. After flooring Marquez in the fifth round, Pacquiao traded shots toward the end of the sixth and ended up face-first on the canvas.
Pacquiao’s longtime trainer Freddie Roach echoed his fighter’s sentiment, stating that entering the ring thinking solely about scoring a knockout will leave one “waiting all night.” Roach addressed the loss to Marquez, but stressed that he wouldn’t change his fighter’s style because of it.
“(Manny) just stepped in a little bit too soon and he got caught,” Roach said. “It’s part of boxing. I’m not going to take his aggressiveness away from him.”
Last November, Pacquiao returned to the win column with a wide decision victory over Brandon Rios, but questions arose regarding the Filipino’s ability to still finish off opponents with his signature pressure. Roach dismissed the whispers.
“In his last fight, he fought a very smart fight,” Roach said. “He might have been able to finish him. He hurt him a couple times, but we didn’t jump in so quickly this time. So we did learn something from that (Marquez) fight. But we’re going to fight our fight.”
What is the type of “fight” Team Pacquiao plans to bring to Bradley on April 12? And how much caution does it consist of given the way the Marquez clash concluded?
“One bad decision doesn’t change everything in life,” Roach said. “It doesn’t change our game plan. We’re going to fight a similar fight to our last fight -- very busy with combinations. … We’re not going to make any adjustments for who the judges are or anything like that because that’s really out of our control.”
Bradley restored his reputation following the controversial points “win” over Pacquiao and a closer-than-expected triumph over lesser heralded Ruslan Provodnikov by edging Marquez last October. Likewise, Roach is putting the onus on Pacquiao to make 2014 the turning point in his own fighter’s resurgence.
“He boxed well against Marquez and he beat a good fighter. So what’s he going to bring to the table with Manny?” Roach asked. “I think he’ll bring a little bit of (what he did against) Marquez, but I think he likes to exchange a little bit also, so when we do get into an exchange with him, we have to take advantage of that moment.”
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine's Ratings Panel. E-mail him at email@example.com , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.com or follow him on Twitter@RMaq28 .