Manny clearly lost. It was obvious. To think otherwise would mean that our eyes are tainted with bias. In my own scoring, he won only three rounds.
He convincingly won Rounds 4 and 6 — as evidenced by the unanimous scores of all three judges. Weren’t those episodes vintage Pacquiao? Him unleashing rapid-fire bullets that had Floyd hiding in his cave barricaded with his arms as shield? In rounds 4 and 6, Manny showed us the real SuperManny.
But other than those fleeting moments, he was not the same man who embarrassed Oscar de la Hoya, floored Hatton and reduced the size of the 5-foot-11 Antonio Margarito to a bloody-faced midget. He was not the mini-Mike Tyson who’d rampage and bulldoze his ferocious will over Goliaths.
Imagine being out-pointed by Floyd in the punches-thrown scorecard? And when it matters most — the actual punches that landed — Floyd connects on 34 percent while Manny limps to 19 percent? Floyd landed 67 more punches (148 vs. 81) than Manny.
Unlikely. Improbable. But it happened. And we thought that Manny The Aggressor would relinquish that let’s-play-it-safe mentality and, never mind if he’d be labeled “reckless,” that he’d attack, invade, attack, invade.
Did he suffer some flashes of memory of that moment four bouts ago against Juan Manuel Marquez — in the same ring inside MGM Grand — when he was crushed with one right hook? How he got careless and paid for it by lying motionless on the floor? Did that memory recur? Which would explain why he was hesitant and did not employ his usual blitzkrieg of weapons?
Maybe. I’ve never tried boxing. But to those who’ve been flattened before, they say you’ll never forget it; that each time you climb the ring, the nightmarish memory resurfaces.
Was it the right shoulder injury? Possible. As any athlete will tell you, when you suffer a physical trauma — during training or, worse, during the actual contest — it hobbles you. Maybe this explains why Manny threw a measly 193 jabs (versus 267 from Floyd), connecting on a paltry 9 percent. Can you believe this: Manny landed only 18 jabs in the 12 rounds. It must be the injury. Which is very unfortunate for our man.
With Mayweather, as hated as he is, you’ve got to applaud his performance. This was exactly how he planned it. This was how he won 47 prior bouts and how he’ll win two more to reach 50 and 0 and beat Rocky Marciano’s record.
Floyd is as slithery as a snake, as quick to bite back as a King Cobra. What also worked against Manny was Floyd’s 5-inch reach advantage. How Floyd took advantage of that, firing left hook after left hook (67 jabs landed, in all), keeping a faraway distance between him and Manny.
As it turns out, this fight turned out to be exactly how majority of experts projected it to play. There was no knockout. The bout lasted the full 12 episodes of three minutes each. And Floyd got his Unanimous Decision victory. This was, to borrow the cliche, “according to script.”
It was clear that if Manny was going to win, he needed to be extraordinary. He needed to “take it to Floyd.” Manny needed to take risks. We knew what Floyd was going to do: weave, jab, wait, pounce, do a shoulder roll, slap a straight right hook. For Manny to win, he needed to produce the type of heroics that one athlete was known for. That spectator was Michael Jordan.
For a 36-year-old congressman who’s fought professionally 65 times, Manny tried. But his trying was not good enough. That’s sport. The man who tries hardest doesn’t always win. (And the loser doesn’t always take home P3 billion.)
In the end, the hype for this once-in-a-century extravaganza was too much. No fight could have lived up to those expectations — except a spectacular Pacquiao knockout, which was as unlikely to happen as the Los Angeles Clippers losing at home by 27 points in Game 7. As it turns out, being a non-San Antonio Spurs fan, that was the only thing to smile about. At least one world champion got dethroned last Saturday night.