By Keith Idec
Ray Beltran realizes Manny Pacquiao is 39 and has devoted much of his attention to politics in recent years.
Pacquiao’s longtime sparring partner and close friend still feels Pacquiao can compete at boxing’s elite level. Beltran believes Pacquiao would be better served, however, by moving down from welterweight to the 140-pound division.
While watching Pacquiao lose his WBO welterweight title to Jeff Horn seven months ago, Beltran couldn’t help but think Horn was entirely too big for the Filipino legend.
“I’ve been with Manny for like 12 years, maybe more,” Beltran told BoxingScene.com. “People just know what they see on TV or what they read on the Internet or in the magazines. But Manny is actually a lightweight. He’s a lightweight fighting at welterweight. That’s what a lot of people don’t know.
“They say, ‘Oh, Manny’s not the same. He’s not knocking people out.’ It’s hard to knock big guys out. They can take the punches better. There’s a lot of things people don’t know. A lot of people just follow what they see on social media and whatever they read. But Horn was way too big, and I think Manny should be fighting at 140. Manny would destroy anybody at 140.”
Beltran, who’ll fight Friday night for the vacant WBO lightweight title, even thinks Pacquiao could get all the way down to the lightweight limit of 135 pounds.
“I think he has made such a big name that his situation kind of demands for him to be at 147,” Beltran said. “All the fans look at him as a welterweight. I think that’s his situation. But I believe Manny could easily make 140 and 135. And Manny would be a killer, a monster at that weight.”
Pacquiao has fought almost exclusively at welterweight for eight years. He hasn’t recorded a knockout since his welterweight debut – a 12th-round stoppage of Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto in their WBO title fight in November 2009.
Even though he considers Pacquiao better suited for a lower weight, Beltran is sure Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) can beat Mike Alvarado (38-4, 26 KOs) if they square off April 14 at Madison Square Garden. Pacquiao, who’s a senator in the Philippines, hasn’t fought since losing a controversial unanimous decision to Horn on July 2 in Brisbane, Australia, Horn’s hometown.
“I think Manny should be OK in that fight,” Beltran said. “Manny should do good. Manny’s not as young as he used to be and Mike Alvarado’s a big guy. But I think based on styles, Manny should take care of him.”
Meanwhile, Phoenix’s Beltran (34-7-1, 21 KOs) is preparing for his fight Friday night against Namibia’s Paulus Moses (40-3-1, 25 KOs). ESPN will air their 12-round fight for the vacant WBO 135-pound championship from Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada (9 p.m. ET).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.