sports

running out of steam?

these past few days i’d been wracking my fuzzy brain for something interesting to add to this pitiful blog — and unsurprisingly came up empty-handed. (it has been an unusually dry spell lately.)

nothing much to get hung about, except that lately i have come to this uncomfortable conclusion that i have become such a dead bore that i can’t even bear to hear or share my own thoughts (*eyes rolling*). bottomline — i have run out of interesting things to say.

well of course this doesn’t mean that things are at an all-time low. on the contrary, there has been a slew of good news lately that ought to brighten anyone’s day: manny pacquio‘s victory over barrera and the fact that the country’s economy is definitely on the upswing. and i now have all the time in the world to catch up on all the anime DVDs i’d been meaning to watch.

i guess it’s just me. *sigh*

a word on Pacman

As much as Pacman’s political antics have been bugging me lately, i gotta hand it to the guy — he knows his business (Boxing) like no one else does. a number of articles and TV clips relating to his recent dismantling of Jorge Solis have crowded the airlanes and the Internet these past few days — and while i’m inclined to ignore most of them (with a gtrain of salt and a jaundiced eye), i found this article and actually liked it because it actually reminded me of why i used to root for the incomparable Pacman.

Bart Barry (15rounds.com)

SAN ANTONIO, TX — The next time pundits and promoters imply that Las Vegas and Los Angeles are the only western cities worthy of pay-per-view shows, boxing fans can toss this Davy Crockett quote at them: “You may go to hell and I will go to Texas.”Looks like someone’s been to the Alamo gift shop this weekend, eh?

manny1.jpgAmericans who’ve never visited San Antonio are missing a treat. There’s no other major city in the American Southwest that so marries the cultures of the United States of America and the United Mexican States. The River Walk is beautiful, the people are warm and Pico de Gallo Restaurant features an unrivaled machacado breakfast.

To whom, then, should we express our gratitude for bringing us to Texas last week? Manny Pacquiao, of course. Texas natives may well have turned out to cheer Guadalajara’s Jorge Solis in his bid to unseat Filipino Congressional hopeful Manny Pacquiao — and the “Vote for Manny” buttons were a story of their own. But out-of-towners were here to see Pacman.

We were in the Lone Star State to see Manny Pacquiao relentlessly charge an undefeated opponent. And after Pacquiao did that, knocking-out Solis in the eighth round, we were still in an Alamodome press conference when Saturday night became Sunday morning.

Here’s the meat of the post-fight news. Joan Guzman was the name most frequently mentioned as Pacquiao’s next opponent. Manny Pacquiao versus Joan Guzman should be an excellent fight.

What was more interesting than discussing Pacman’s next opponent and promoter Top Rank’s next pay-per-view show on June 9, though, were the simple no’s Jorge Solis and Freddie Roach offered to questions they fielded. Their answers are good guideposts, if not harbingers of coming woe.

When asked if Manny Pacquiao truly hits as hard as believed, Jorge Solis said, simply, “No.”

And this came after Solis chose the following comparison for a different reply: “With all due respect to Manny Pacquiao, I believe my wife hits harder.”

Now, as it had only been a half hour since two wifely left hands from Pacquiao had dropped Solis on the blue mat, perhaps Jorge wasn’t fully conscious of what he said. But Freddie Roach was plenty conscious after the press conference, and here’s what Pacman’s trainer had to say.

Asked if Manny Pacquiao had a Plan B for the day when his unmatched speed neglects to show up for a fight, Freddie Roach answered, “No. The day he loses his speed, Manny needs to be a Congressman.”

That day is not here yet. And in the meantime, all roads to super-featherweight stardom go through the Philippines. As promoter Bob Arum put it Saturday night: “Anyone at 130 pounds has to realize the only way to make money in the division is to fight Pacquiao.”

While we’re on the subject of Bob Arum and Top Rank, we should treat the entertainment merits of last Saturday’s “Blaze of Glory” show. “Blaze of Glory” was everything recent Las Vegas events have not been. It was quick-moving, loud and exciting. For once, a pay-per-view telecast adhered to its fights’ schedule — the last bout led immediately to the next bout — and a show’s promotion was more than a conference call.

For fans who’d paid anywhere from $35 to $300 to attend the fights, ‘Blaze of Glory” was the most enjoyable pay-per-view show in years.

Really, from the music between rounds to the stadium-wide broadcast of interviews to the pyrotechnics, the only person who had an unequivocally bad time in the Alamodome was Jorge “El Travieso” Arce. And a preview of the fits that WBC super-flyweight champ Cristian Mijares would give Arce came at Friday’s weigh-in. Posing for photos, Jorge Arce scowled at Mijares and yanked away Mijares’ green WBC belt. In response, Cristian Mijares smiled and hugged Arce.

Mijares knew what Arce was going to do at Friday’s weigh-in before Arce did it. And Mijares knew when Arce was going to throw a right hand in Saturday’s fight before Arce decided to throw it. Right, Cristian?

“The truth is that, yes, I did! I have to tell you that I was surprised by how slow [Arce] was. I have always admired him, and he is a great champion. But I saw his right hands like two seconds before he threw them.”

Cristian Mijares would win about 10 of the fight’s 12 rounds. It was another case of a rangy southpaw technician easily handling a forward-pressing slugger. Though Mijares’ right ear was blackened and swelled shut by Arce left hooks Saturday night, the left side of Mijares’ head was pretty clean. Meanwhile, Jorge Arce’s face still bled 100 minutes after the final bell sounded.

Jorge Arce may not have been his best Saturday night. And Cristian Mijares was his best Saturday night. But then, so was Jorge Solis.

Welcome to the world of “Pacman” and “El Travieso.” Because Manny Pacquiao and Jorge Arce are some of prizefighting’s very best, they invariably face the best version of every opponent with whom they touch gloves before an opening bell.

In San Antonio last weekend, neither Jorge Arce nor Manny Pacquiao looked as good as he has in other fights. The difference was that Manny Pacquiao’s worst was still better than Jorge Solis’ best — and not much worse than Pacquiao’s best — while Jorge Arce’s less-than best was nowhere near as good as Mijares’ best.

That brings us to an observation about what makes a champion. Greatness is not necessarily about eliminating bad days. Greatness is about narrowing the qualitative distance between one’s best and one’s worst. On his worst day, Manny Pacquiao looks only a bit slower and duller than he does on his best day. And that is why Manny Pacquiao will remain the world’s best fighter for at least a little while longer.

And when pundits and promoters ask what makes a fight venue great? Remember the Alamodome.