If he was a pitcher in major league baseball, the fans and the pundits would only be asking one question about Manny Pacquiao?
Has he lost his fastball?
Or, in the case of the Pinoy Idol, has he lost a fraction of the timing and the quickness which liffted him to the puglistic pinnacle, to being generally acknowledged as the Pound For Pound king of the ring.
It’s possible that it’s not his relatively young age (33) that has caused Pacman to disappoint in winning peformances against Sugar Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez in calendar year 2011.
It could just be human nature, the fact that he is a multimillionaire and may have lost some of the “edge,” some of the wicked hunger he used to have when he rose from sleeping on the streets to bunking in the Las Vegas suites.
Some Pacquiao watchers and syncophants have a ready made excuse for anything less than Pacquiao perfection.
You know their litany…Mosley ran after the third round knockdown. Manny had leg cramps in both of those 2011 bouts. Counterpuncher Juan Ma was messing Manny up by purposely stepping on his feet continually so his twinkletoes could not twinkle.
The fact is that Pacquiao was almost as lethargic as Mosley was for most of their listless bout.
The fact is that Pacquiao’s style is all wrong for Marquez and will continue to be so if they box seven more times (for me, three times 12, meaning 36 rounds, was more than enough).
The names change but we keep coming back to the same question.
Now that Pacquiao can afford silk underwear, a new $600,000 yacht and is a national force in politics, is all this detracting from the singleminded focus he used to have on his sport?
Bob Arum suggested the other day that Pacman might wait for Floyd Mayweather Jr. to do his jail stint and take on “Money” next.
It’s not the worst idea, especially if Pacquaio needs time to take his own mental inventory.
Maybe he’s only got one great fight left in him, it’s possible.
Far better to have it against Mayweather than a pedestrian opponent such as Tim Bradley.
Win, lose or draw, I think most fans want to see Pacquiao and Mayweather perform at their best when they finally clash.
Only the Man in the Mirror knows the answer to the question.
Is he still hungry enough to overcome Mayweather’s speed and defensive skills? Or will we be hearing a mixture of old and new excuses if he is subpar in a Mayweather fight?
Freddie Roach doesn’t know. Neither does Arum.
Only the Man in the Mirror knows and he better be taking stock right now because the electricity of the Ricky Hatton KO and the one-sided whipping of De La Hoya are slipping into the ancient history category.
When a fighter earns $50 million, no one will want to hear about those nagging leg cramps.
So I ask it again, has Pacquiao lost his fastball?
In the coming year, we shall find out.