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Manny Pacquiao: Has Pac-man lost his appetite for destruction?

Joseph Herron Updated
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While preparing for his highly anticipated June 9th bout with Timothy Bradley, HBO's 24/7 series documented Filipino Congressman Manny Pacquiao's struggle with who he referred to as "the old Manny" and further displayed his efforts to become a spiritually reborn and devoted husband.

Whereas the younger and less mature Manny Pacquiao's personal life was riddled with vices and behavior not conducive for any healthy marriage, the current and morally conscious version of Pac-man was regularly shown participating in religious retreats and Bible studies during the recent pre-fight promotional presentation.

Every great trainer insists that fewer distractions in a fighter's life usually equates to an optimal performance in the ring. Manny obviously eliminated all of the distracting elements in his private life and it resulted in an elite level showing at the MGM Grand last Saturday night.

After gladly and willingly giving up a life of excess and debauchery, the Filipino icon showed in his controversial loss to Tim Bradley that he was still capable of putting on a truly great performance over one of the top fighters in the sport. On June 9th the world saw a sharp, fleet-footed version of Manny Pacquiao who delivered crisp, compact punches with amazing accuracy.

Despite not getting the nod on two of the judges' scorecards, Pacquiao out-classed a young, hungry, and undefeated fighter according to most who witnessed the event. Although Manny rocked his opponent during the early rounds of his championship bout with Timothy Bradley and was on the winning end of most exchanges throughout the twelve round fight, the 33 year old ring veteran seemed to ease up on his opponent in the mid to late portion of the contest.

Pictured: Manny Pacquiao leads a Bible prayer study in 2012.
Courtesy of Chris Farina/ Top Rank  


Was Manny's lack of tenacity and inability to put away his opponent due to his new found inner peace and spirituality? Has Pacquiao's conscience tempered his ferocity in the ring?

Has the Pac-man lost his appetite for destruction?

Any experienced trainer will claim that the "killer instinct" is what separates the great fighters from the good fighters. The will to win at all costs separates the champions from the contenders. It's that controlled rage and intense ability to unmercifully vanquish any opponent that ultimately differentiates great success from failure in the ring.

The great ones have it. Pacquiao has it...or at least he did...didn't he?

Pictured: Manny Pacquiao anesthetized Ricky Hatton in less than two rounds in 2009
Courtesy of HBO


Against Ricky Hatton in May of 2009, Pacquiao showed a tenacious will to win by throwing and landing one of the most devastating left hooks in recent boxing memory. The vicious shot not only earned Manny Pacquiao the reputation of being one of the most brutal pound for pound punchers in the ring, but also reinforced his reputation as one of the best finishers in the fight game.

Does today's rendition of Manny Pacquiao still possess the mindset of the 2009 Pac-monster? Is the Filipino role model of 2012 still capable of dropping the curtain on an opponent at any given time during a prizefight?

Many ringside observers claim that this seemingly more merciful and sympathetic attitude in the ring is merely Manny's advanced age and a natural depletion of his ability to deliver the now commonly expected "Coup de Gras."

After witnessing brutal stoppages over David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto consecutively within the years 2008-09, could it possible that the boxing world simply became spoiled by witnessing four straight stoppages over four usually durable fighters?

Or did the 2008/2009 version of Manny Pacquiao ever really exist? Did the mainstream media and casual fan help fabricate a Filipino version of Paul Bunyan?

Pictured: Manny Pacquiao, right, unleashes on Shane Mosley in 2011. Despite having Mosley badly hurt, Pacquiao settled for a decision victory. Both fighters were criticized for touching gloves (a pleasantry usually reserved for the beginning of the final round) at the conclusion of most of the rounds.

Courtesy of Chris Farina/ Top Rank 



After all, Manny hasn't been able to stop an opponent since 2009.

In his most recent five outings, all five opponents have made it to the final bell. In fact, only one of his last five opponents has even hit the canvas...once. Sugar Shane Mosley was floored in the third round of their fight in May of 2011...once.

Is Manny Pacquiao a pocket-Mike Tyson, who in his prime was a perfect combination of stark reality and mythical magic? Mike Tyson had fighters knocked out before they ever stepped foot in the ring. The mere mention of the former "baddest man on the planet" was enough to make some fighters pack it in mentally before the opening bell ever sounded.

Pictured: Manny Pacquiao, right, annihilated Antonio Margarito in 2010 but seemingly showed sympathy and didn't go for the knockout.
Courtesy of Chris Farina/ Top Rank  


The Pac-man is much more than that...his feat of gaining eight world championships in eight different weight classes is no figment of our imagination. But, the illusion that Pacquiao is the ever so brutal destroyer could be something of dreams.

Regardless of what your perception may be, Manny Pacquiao is and always will be one of the great fighters of this or any era.

From the fan-boys to the haters...love him or hate him, Manny Pacquiao continues to be an elite level talent and a true credit to the sport.

That's the reality.

Video: Manny Pacquiao Top 10 Knockouts

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