By Rick Reeno
IBF/WBA light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins believes eight division former champion Manny Pacquiao has rapidly declined, in terms of his power and physicality in the ring, over the last few years. Pacquiao, who at one time was demolishing the competition, has not scored a stoppage win since a TKO victory over Miguel Cotto in late 2009.
"How do you feel Pacquiao's talent level, power [is] pertaining to the last five or six years? Do you think anything changed? Do you see any difference in him? And we all change. I see a lot of difference," Hopkins said.
"Three years ago he was smashing dudes. I remember Pacquiao when he was with Murad Muhammad. I remember Pacquiao when he was little bit better than ordinary. He was a tough guy without a really good defense and had a couple of losses early on. And then he just [shot up]. I lost my first fight and I shot up so no suspicions. And I said 'where does he get this power.' He was just cracking dudes. Fighters have egos and there were fighters who said he hits like a heavyweight and we usually don't say that to you."
"I'm sitting back and you start hearing allegations [about steroid use] and I'm saying to myself 'wait a minute.' And then when things really started heating up [regarding the steroid allegations] as years passed, I saw this [fast] decline where he's not knocking nobody out and he's not even hurting nobody."
"I have seen a change, especially in the physical, especially the power in the last four, five years. Whether that has to do with age, whether that has to do with him losing some of that. I haven't knocked someone out in six, seven years..since Oscar De La Hoya and I've been trying to."