Posted by: luvin | November 19, 2009

Deconstructing Manny

This article is just fantastic, as Pacquaio’s win. I’d like to share it with you. There are just too many relevant reverences.



By Springs Toledo

Manny Pacquiao:  I’m just [an] ordinary fighter…

Freddie Roach (interrupting): –You’re not ordinary.

Manny Pacquiao: Sorry about that, master.

“He finds gaps,” said Emanuel Steward after Manny Pacquiao stopped Miguel Cotto in the twelfth round. Those three words mirror the words of a far older, far more legendary war tactician: Sun Tzu. “Strike at their gaps,” The Art of War asserted two thousand years ago, “attack when they are lax, don’t let the enemy figure out how to prepare.” The second knockdown of Cotto illustrated this theory. Cotto, a conventional boxer-puncher, was hit in the fourth round by an uppercut from the left side that went inside and underneath his guard, exploding off the side of his chin. Pacquiao found a gap, capitalized on the momentary carelessness of an onrushing opponent, and spent the rest of the fight exploding every potential solution Cotto thought he had.  

“When you are going to attack nearby make it look as if you are going to go a long way,” Sun Tzu said, “when you are going to attack far away, make it look as if you are going just a short distance.” Pacquiao seems to be moving out when he’s coming in and coming in when he’s moving out. He exploits expectations with illusions. He “draws them in” and then “takes them by confusion.” Trainer Freddie Roach, himself a former professional boxer, agrees that Pacquiao is “very hard to read.” Pacquiao continues punching when his opponent expects a pause, his angles are bizarre, and he is often not where he is expected to be after a combination. Due to such unorthodoxies, this southpaw is a master of destroying the timing and rhythm of a conventional fighter. He is similar to Joe Calzaghe in that regard. Mikkel Kessler said that Calzaghe “ruins your boxing.” Indeed, Pacquiao does worse than that.  

While a disruptive boxer like Calzaghe spills ink all over your blueprint and laughs about it, Pacquiao ruins your blueprint, but then adds injury to insult by crashing the drafting table over your head.  

Pacquiao has athletic gifts that translate well in the ring: disruptive rhythm, timing, and speed, all financed by shocking power that belies his featherweight frame. As if this weren’t enough, his whiskers safely absorbed the shock of Cotto’s left hooks. He was never hurt, which raises eyebrows. Manny, we must remember, was exchanging punches in a division forty pounds north of the one he began in. And he reveled in it, he invited it, even snarling at times and standing disdainfully in the final stanzas to challenge the manhood of the retreating Puerto Rican. Roberto Duran, 58, watched from the crowd. His coal-black eyes remembering the night he dethroned another welterweight who thought he could outgun a smaller man. Duran watched Pacquiao’s black hair flying with the force of his blows, his beard paying unintentional tribute. A smile, once sinister, betrayed his lips.  

Despite the glory heaped on him by a celebrity-starved public and an island nation eager for eminence, Pacquiao is not the flawless fighter that Duran was when he handed Sugar Ray Leonard his first defeat. Pacquiao’s humanity can be sensed if not seen in his nervousness as battle commences. It takes him a round or two to find his rhythm and gauge his distance and timing. Before that happens he is prone to reach in, get off balance in range, and will often leave windows open for counters. After that happens, his opponent, any opponent, is in peril.

He can be controlled, particularly by welterweights, but it will take a trainer and a fighter who are willing to give up conventional strategies and think out of the box. Convention is broken down by revolution, and Manny Pacquiao fights like a revolution.
Alas, even the trainer who recognizes the need for a counter-revolutionary strategy is faced with another problem –the trainer in the other corner:  

Freddie Roach. The formidable Freddie Roach.  

Roach has Parkinson’s disease, which has burdened him with tremors, slurring, and odd pauses during conversations. Its symptoms can be as disconcerting to conventional conversationalists as Manny Pacquiao’s style is to conventional fighters; but his disability also gives him an aura of alien brilliance like Stephen Hawking.  

It has had no effect on his knack for strategy.  

Roach did well not to tamper with Pacquiao’s unorthodoxy. He streamlined it and added balance, deliberate feints, angles, defense, and a two-fisted attack. Like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao has a foundation in fundamentals. Unlike Mayweather, Pacquiao’s lessons occurred later in his career, while Floyd’s were drilled into him as a small child. Also unlike Mayweather who claims to disdain strategy, Manny enters the ring with a master plan or three. Sun Tzu emphasized this: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.” Roach spends hours and days and weeks and months in study. He deconstructs his opponent and finds patterns –“habits” as he calls them, to exploit. Then he teaches Manny to “see it as [he] sees it.”

At times, the eyes of Freddie Roach seem to focus on a higher plane inaccessible to anyone else. Perhaps he communes with the ghost of Eddie Futch. Futch was his mentor, and was among the greatest trainers of the 20th century. Futch sparred with Joe Louis and learned his trade in the company of master boxers like Holman Williams. He was the strategist behind the first defeat of Muhammad Ali by Joe Frazier, the second defeat of Ali by Ken Norton, Riddick Bowe’s defeat of the undefeated Evander Holyfield, and Montell Griffin’s disqualification win over the undefeated Roy Jones. Freddie Roach learned at his knee. Manny Pacquiao learned at Freddie’s.  

The most popular boxer in the world today was catapulted into stardom after he defeated Oscar De La Hoya and then Ricky Hatton. Serious boxing fans know the truth. De La Hoya and Hatton were simply two candles on a cake already baked between 2003 and 2008 by great Mexicans from the lower weight divisions: Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez. These are the men who tried him in fire much like Murderers’ Row tried Archie Moore in the 1940s and Philadelphia tried Marvelous Marvin Hagler in the 1970s. Pacquiao has evolved bloodily into a complete fighter and then some. He is an experienced, natural athlete with power that exponentially rises with weight. He has a style that is as confusing as a hall of mirrors and as difficult to solve as Chinese math. He is a willing student with an expanding set of skills. Behind him stands a trainer with a direct link to Eddie Futch who was a product of boxing’s golden decade and rubbed shoulders with many gods of war. Manny’s pugilistic pedigree summons the gold of yesterday to overcome the iron of today.  

Boxing is a character sport first and a skills sport second. Manny’s character was formed in a background that is ideal for a fighter –a background set in the kind of third world poverty that Americans have not known for seventy years, but a background known to spawn fighters in back alleys amid broken bottles and broken dreams. Manny ran away from home at fourteen to spare his mother one more mouth to feed. He exchanged real poverty for worse poverty –in an act of sacrifice. This fighter has not only suffered, he also understood and embraced self-denial at early adolescence.  

The toughest sport in the world is easy for someone like him. Pacquiao has something to fight for as only a poor man can, for self, for family, for country. He has the discipline to do it, and he has the perspective to transcend it. The Sweet Science is meaningful to him; his participation in it is an expression of love and loyalty, of self-actualization. So he approaches battle with joy.  

And that isn’t all.  

Manny believes that the hand of God himself is on his shoulder. Cynical secularism may scoff at such ancient notions, but irreverence is irrelevant here. Manny believes this –utterly. And it gives him an edge in that he is completely self-possessed and palpably unconcerned with the risks of the ring. He goes not only willingly, but happily. Throughout history, like-minded people have strode confidently into lion’s dens, climbed into kamikaze cockpits, blown themselves up at market places, sang while burning at a stake, and volunteered to die first at Nazi death camps to spare strangers. Pacquiao’s religiosity is that kind of powerful. It is a major reason why he smiles and waves on his way to battle dragons.  

Boxing fans take note: his frame of mind was shared by Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali.  

Emanuel Steward’s assertion that the thirty-year-old welterweight champion, now 50-3-2, belongs “up there” with Ali and Robinson was half-wrong. When Robinson was thirty, he was defeated once in 131 bouts and went on to finish his career with the scalps of eighteen world champions hanging from his belt. Manny isn’t near that. He is a typhoon blowing over structures less sturdy than those built in the golden era of boxing. But remember, he isn’t finished yet.  

Like the legends before him, Manny Pacquiao sees himself as a man of destiny… a patriot fighting for a flag, a Christian laughing at lions… Such men are rarely taken down by anything except time and hubris. They are larger than their foes even when they are not.  

Such men are larger than themselves.

Springs Toledo can be contacted at 

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ultimoshogun:  Wow! Great article Springs! I don’t know much of Manny’s background other than he like so many others came from humble beginnings, but the story of him running away to spare his mother was very touching. He’s truly an honorable man and deserves everything he has today. On another note, Floyd Mayweather is scheduled to appear on George Lopez’s late show tomorrow night. I haven’t watched the show but I’ll tune in for this one to see if George, who’s a boxing fan brings up Pacquiao and asks the tough questions. De La Hoya will be on tonight.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 11:49:07 AM
deepwater:  I will never doubt manny again. pacman is the gold standard in boxing.mayweather is just like the dollar,cheap with no intrinsic value. buy gold now! dump the dollar.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 12:03:50 PM
#1 PacFan “P4P King”:  Very great article! I really believe though that Manny has truly reached the top like many of the greats have. He deserves to be considered among the best like Robinson and Ali. Imagine when this great little retires? What will they say? Congrats Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao for your great accomplishment by winning your record 7 world titles in seven different divisions and the only man to have won 4 lineal world titles.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 12:17:05 PM
David:  Fantastic article. Something tells me Manny is just getting started. I’ve been a boxing fan for years, but I’m only 23. I can tell you that never in my life have I seen this kind of excitement around a fighter. This isn’t something created by the hype machine in hopes of getting our dollar; this is a guy that actually delivers when he steps into the ring with the kind of scintillating performance that separates this sport from any other. I feel like my generation is finally going to have the era in boxing that we deserve; not just great fights (which we’ve had, but are largely ignored by the media) but the kind of transcendent, earth-shaking confrontations that make it the greatest sport in the world. Is Pacquiao vs. Mayweather one of those bouts? Or will it be like Pac vs. Cotto, where it’s highly competitive for the first half before turning into a bloody rout? Whatever the case, boxing is back in the public eye where it belongs, and I can’t imagine a better emissary for the sport than Manny. Outside of the ring he’s a model citizen; inside he’s a monster. What more can you ask?
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 01:07:24 PM
TheNCube:  The very best article I’ve read on Freddie and Manny. Thank you.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 01:10:18 PM
mabii:  Abslolutely great article! I vote for it as article of the year.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 01:10:42 PM
Yuvie:  Nice article! Viva Pacquiao! I second Mabii’s vote.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 01:51:23 PM
RED:  “Emanuel Steward’s assertion that the thirty-year-old welterweight champion, now 50-3-2, belongs “up there” with Ali and Robinson was half-wrong. When Robinson was thirty, he was defeated once in 131 bouts and went on to finish his career with the scalps of eighteen world champions hanging from his belt. Manny isn’t near that. He is a typhoon blowing over structures less sturdy than those built in the golden era of boxing. But remember, he isn’t finished yet.” Thank you, ST. I rest my case. Hopefully, my fellow TSS brothers will now look at my recent statements regarding Manny’s stature in our beloved sport in the correct light.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 02:20:21 PM
Einar:  On a site chock full of great fight writing this piece tops them all. Mr. Toledo, hat-in-hand I nod. Beautiful writing. Many, many thanks.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 02:27:27 PM
jose:  great article, i love irreverance is irrelevant
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 02:33:41 PM
Frank Z:  *Applause* well done. manny’s indeed gone through the wars when coming up under 135, which is why he does make the fights look easy now. there’s many roads to rome in this case. floyd mayweather’s been bred honed and born to box purely from age 0, shane mosley hsa been trained and mentored by his father who acted almost like a big brother and gravitated to boxing because he loved it, pacquiao had to fight first before he learned to box, so boxing is almost like a refuge for him. he has that poor country style that you see with his all out blazing aggression and willingness to take to give, the difference being that he’s a talented athlete. btw one reason i b elieve that he’s carried his power up in weight is becuase he’s no longer weight trained. he walks around at about 150 and cutting down to 130 would be too much for most. this reminds me that weigh ins should be on the day of the fight to maximize performance not the day before, but i digress.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 02:42:17 PM
Radam G – :  Wow! Fightwriter Springs T, nice copy! So nice that I had to read it twice. I think I’ll go for thrice. I be back in a minute….Okay I am back! OMG! A MASTERPIECE for college and military studies of — not only the “Art of War,” but the “Are of Masterpiece scribing. I’m impressed! Other fightwriters and writers in general can learn from how this story weaved together a personality feature and straight-out kicka$$ war philosophy. A good trainer is indeed equal to a field marshal or five-star general. Trainers as the late, great boxing guru Eddie Futch, Angie Dundee, Manny Steward, the late Billy Miller, the late Junior Robles, the late Sarge Johnson, the late Champ Chainey, the late Frankie Karr, Joe Cloud and now Freddie Roach are in the same league with Sun Tzu, Alexander The Great, Genghis Khan. the Prophet Moses, General Douglas MacArthur and many more great.There will be no deconstruction of PacMAN by Money May. Family has not learn the full Art of War, just the talk — pure propaganda! And this is for his audience, not people with iota of a brain. Holla!
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 02:58:27 PM
swift:  Nice Article! I agree, I think people are jumping the gun calling him the greatest ever, but he is in the conversation of great fighters and that’s saying something. One thing people have to realize is that the weight that Manny gained to win titles is very small. Think about it, from 112-130 are five titles. 18 lbs and five titles? I’m not knocking Manny at all, but what I am saying is guys like James Toney, Roy Jones, Thomas Hearns and a few others have done pretty much the same thing! But without the titles! The one thing I love about Manny is he fights the best regardless of weight and fights like he was fighting a 112 lb fighter…
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 03:04:14 PM
Robert Curtis:  Excellent stuff, Springs! I don’t know if Manny will ever have the opportunity to equal the records/numbers of the greats you mention in today’s boxing climate. The same frenzy of competition and diversity of competitors does not exist. Also, as you point out, Springs, 70 years ago we had poverty and desperation in the USA similar to today’s so-called Third World. Robinson, Louis, Moore, Williams, Armstrong, Bur-ley, etc. were all children of the Depression and the pre-civil rights era. It took incredible courage and dedication for them to succeed. But even if Pacman retires next week, I still think he deserves comparison to the all time greats. He won’t have to fight 131 fights to prove his greatness to me.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 03:11:35 PM
brownsugar,.. Is welterweight at 145 or 147 now??:  Manny will always be a great fighter in my eyes,.. but he hasn’t even scratched the surface at 147 yet,… it seems like the 147 limit has now become the 145 limit just to accommodate Manny,.. because that’s his best weight,.. I still hold Cotto, Berto, Clottey,.Williams, Shane and even Mayweather well ahead as far as thier accomplishments go,… at the welter weight limit,…. as opposes Manny,s conquests at 145 because they campaigned at the true limit numerous times,.. wins over the dried out competition notwithstanding,.. Pac still has the potential to make a name at 147,.. whenever Roach and company decide to take on the welters at their true limit,.. hope it happens but it appears doubtful.. forcing guys to abandon their true weight to come in the fight weak does not lay the groundwork for a memmorable stint in the welterweight division for Pac,………. what??,…. are welterweights supposed to fight at 145 now just to give Manny a chance? to win a title that has been eternally sanctioned at 147??? even guys like David Haye didn’t force Valuez to lose his 100 pound advantage,..and still won,.. Roy didn’t have to make Ruiz come down to cruiser in order to beat him,…. and Sugar didn’t starve out Hagler for his win middleweight,.. Hammerin Hank held 3 titles at once without changing the weights,..Catchweights for titles is a trend that’s destroying the integrity of the once Hallowed welterweight Crowns….Roach will probably never let Manny show his talent at the full limit,.. as long as the business of boxing permits hard-up boxers to continue to starve themselves to earn 6 figures,… sad development fo’ sho’,…….
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 03:38:56 PM
joe Rein:  Keenly insightful, elegant read, Springs. It’s what I wish boxing writing would be, but rarely is.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 04:24:07 PM
The Saint:  @Floyd Mayweather Sr aka Brownsugar: Get over it. Pacquiao is one of the greatest. Whether or not he’s THE greatest, who cares, and how do you measure that, anyway? Pacquiao’s career is not a fabricated one like De La Hoya’s or Mayweather’s, and he doesn’t need a paper trail of “accomplishments” to prove his greatness. I don’t care about his 7 titles in as many weight divisions, it doesn’t mean much to me. But he’s an all time great, and only two people on this planet disagree (Mayweather Jr and Sr).
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 04:34:52 PM
Frank Z@brownsugar:  Very valid point, a good aomunt of this praise is being overstated. pacquiao has yet to fight a true welterweight at welterweight. all the more reason iw oudl like him to fight floyd and then shane if he is to continue at this weight.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 04:37:24 PM
#1 PacFan “Pacquiao #3 on ATG list”:  If Mayweather’s accomplishments is considered better than Manny’s then I say hell with you. If you say Mayweather is the GREATEST OF ALL TIME then I say Manny Pacquiao is GOD of boxing. No matter which way you look at it Mayweather will always be at the bottom looking up at Manny. Who will one day be THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 04:46:55 PM
ali is not top 3 all-time:  @ BROWNSUGAR Great points I think he should be ok with fighting guys at the 147 limit now he’s proved he can handle it. Fredie Roach is still talking about he wants Mayweather to come down to 145 dude has lost his mind. See little stupid $hit like that will make the fight even harder to make this is a no brainer. The only problem they should have is about money if people (im talking about both sides) argue about ring size,gloves, weight Ect the fight will never happen.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 05:00:56 PM
ali:  I meant to say Pac is not in the top 3 all-time
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 05:01:56 PM
@ali:  Show me 1 source of Roach wanting Mayweather to come down to 145. That’s a LIE. Get these lies off here.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 05:12:32 PM
manboobs the great:  Geez!!! Like Manny much? LOL Good read man, seriously.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 05:33:11 PM
@@ali:  haha! seems like anything ali has to say has no credibility.. just like his hero mayweather.
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 05:33:52 PM
Fe’Roz (repost):  Floyd has never fought anybody like Pacqiauo……because there has never been anyone quite like Manny. We are watching something very unique. Someone for whom there is no blueprint because every time the ink dries, Manny keeps changing…. for the better. Looking at tapes won’t help. Yesterday’s Manny is not today’s….and today’s Manny is not tomorrow’s. And not incrementally. Like superman, he moves in leaps and bounds. First he’s one handed. Then he’s not. His right is as good as his left. He can hit with power from both sides. His rhythm punching has not comparables. His power keeps increasing with his strength. His strength and stamina are uncanny; his punch resistance their equal. Literally, every time we have seen him fight, he gets better. If and when Floyd fights Manny, he will need more than a pedigree and and undefeated record. He will need more than a shoulder roll…..and the ability to adjust. For Manny means business…..and Floyd better be ready. He will be fighting for his life
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 06:07:00 PM
Jay:  Simply amazing and moving! You should write a book or a documentary. Great read, bookmarked this page. Thanks!
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009 06:12:37 PM


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