By Ronnie Nathanielsz
While we personally would have liked to see Manny Pacquiao fight Juan Manuel Marquez a third time, just to shut his mouth and that of Golden Boy Promotions Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya, we have to put our own personal preferences aside for Manny. Marquez, Schaefer and De La Hoya continue to claim that despite four knockdowns in two fights, Marquez still won.
To begin with, we have to appreciate what Pacquiao has done for the sport of boxing and most especially for the Philippines and Filipinos. He helped restore the country’s image in the boxing arenas of the world.
Pacquiao has endeared himself to millions not just in his homeland but around the world and, as Thai Prime Minister Abhisit said last year, Pacquiao is not just a hero of the Philippines—he is a hero of Asia.
In short, he was embraced by the entire continent as one of its own.
In the United States, he commands an unbelievable following from pure boxing aficionados to people who love sport in general and have warmed to his engaging manner.
He has earned the distinction of being recognized as a crossover star.
Every single sports magazine, internet boxing site, channels such as CNN and ESPN and the prestigious Boxing Writers Association of America have seen him for his true worth —a champion of unquestionable achievement.
While all of us have our own thoughts on who he should fight, we need to realize that a fighter like Manny has an inherent right to choose who his opponent should be.
We must also remember that he had two hard fights against Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito and absorbed some painful blows from both men who were much bigger and heavier at fight time.
The accepted practice is for a fighter, most of all a champion, to take on a potentially easier opponent to give him a breathing spell.
Whether Shane Mosley will be an easier opponent remains to be seen.
Rick Staheli, who was Manny’s trainer when he won the WBC flyweight title from Thai hero Chatchai Sasakul, believes Mosley can be a difficult proposition in the early rounds, as he did when he hurt Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the second round of their fight last year, but also predicts Pacquiao should prevail in the end.
Mosley may well be the most technically proficient fighter to face Pacquiao, and while he cannot surely match the speed and the movement of Manny, he is certainly faster than Margarito or Cotto and probably hits just as hard.
He showed this when he hammered Margarito to win by a ninth-round TKO after beating De La Hoya twice when “The Golden Boy” was in his prime.
To be fair to Manny, he has achieved so much for himself and his people. Maybe its time for us to give him a break and let him enjoy the privilege of earning some good money by fighting someone other than an opponent we all desire.
With Floyd Mayweather Jr. in no mood to fight Manny and is more inclined to take on women, children and security guards - and with no really viable and exciting opponent standing out - perhaps we should recognize Pacquiao’s right of choice.