IB-August 8, 2011 – The sweet science of professional boxing hasn’t changed, it is still the art of getting close enough to your opponent to land blows without suffering the consequences of getting hit yourself. One sport with hundreds of different styles and techniques and the beauty of it all is not any one method is the method of success. So when fighters like Roberto Duran, Ray Leonard, Ray Robinson, Salvador Sanchez, Wilfredo Benitez, Hector Camacho Sr., Marvin Hagler come into the boxing scene displaying different styles, the sport of boxing becomes second to none.
Roberto Duran and Muhammad Ali are two examples of great fighters in a pool of many great and excellent boxers but for some reason, they stood above the rest. Duran and Ali brought the stars out, superstar athletes of other sports, actors and actresses, dignitaries as well as successful and wealthy businessmen is what you would see ringside.
Today we have Manny Pacquiao who has become professional boxing’s household name.
Pacquiao reminds me very much of “Manos de Piedra” (Hands of Stone) Roberto Duran, their careers shadow each other in styles and mentality. Duran, hard hitting, straight forward “in your face” type fighter. Pacquiao is much the same, hard hitting straight forward aggressive fighter. Duran began his career at the Lightweight division, unstoppable as a lightweight. It was moving up in weight classes, challenging and defeating some of the best in the divisions when Duran earned being side by side boxing’s greatest. Pacquiao is similar in he started his career in the lighter weights and moved up in weight classes, being dominant and demanding respect as he moved up. Pacquiao resides amongst the elite of fighters known as the greatest.
Pacquiao like Duran live[d] to box, boxing is[was] the way both fighters displayed honor, pride and dignity. The mentality and the pride of winning outweigh[ed] monetary value of combat. Both fighters stepped into the ring knowing losing was not an option and when it came to training both fighters knew exactly what had to be done. Training fighters like Duran and Pacquiao are a dream come true, no fussing, no cracking the whip, these fighters understand what it takes to win.
With Duran it was “Sugar” Ray Leonard that became the fight the fans wanted to see, today it’s Floyd Mayweather for Pacquiao. The fans received their wish when the Duran vs Leonard was made, the two fought a total of three times. The first fight was highly electrifying as Duran defeats the slick Leonard with a unanimous decision and winning the WBC world welterweight crown. In the rematch five months later, Leonard elects not mix it up with Duran and fights his fight of sticking and moving. A frustrated Duran waves the fight off in the eighth round and says “No Mas”. Not only was Leonard successful in avenging his loss but he was successful in breaking down one of the proudest boxers known to man. Duran would spend the rest of his career trying to regain respect and his honor.
Duran would go on to fight the likes of Wilfredo Benitez, Pepino Cuevas, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns before having a third contest against Leonard. With these champion fighters on his resume, Duran successfully put to rest the No Mas incident. Today, Duran is one of the most loved and respected fighters of all time.
A fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather has loomed for years and with the boxing careers of both fighters closer to an end rather a beginning, we’d have to see this fight happen within the next year in order for the contest to bear any significance of a great fight between two fighters in their prime. Any later and all we will have is two aging “use to be great” fighters fighting at a percentage of what they were.
Will history repeat itself with the proud aggressive hard hitting Pacquiao defeating Mayweather and in a rematch, Mayweather frustrating Pacquiao to redeem himself? Before we can talk rematch, the initial contest needs to happen. With Mayweather demanding Pacquiao make concessions in the form of drug testing and Pacquiao only willing to give in to a certain degree while taking the attitude of we fight under the rules of boxing, it’s more likely the contest will not ever happen.
Nonetheless, Pacquiao remains a comparable image of the great Duran and for boxing fans, that’s a good thing.