Not again, folks...Pacquiao doesn't deserve 2010's top award
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
This wasn't at all what I'd planned for the week.
As I enjoyed a flex-time Monday off from the real-life day job, my intent for this very column was to do a West Coast interview with a budding filmmaker in the evening, assemble a few other notes and put together 1,000 or so words of ersatz brilliance as I revved up for Jets-Patriots on ESPN.
But some weeks -- as Rex Ryan can now surely attest -- are better than others.
As I waited for a few pre-interview logistics to work themselves out, I tooled over to check the latest goings-on at Facebook, where several of my colleagues periodically coalesce for discussions of all things boxing -- be they historic, futuristic or controversial in nature.
In fact, my most stimulating Internet stays of late have been in the cyber company of Buffalo-area guru Rick Glaser, who doles out a series of rapid-fire trivia questions each day to test the short-term recall of the 2,800 or so users whom he claims as "friends."
Manny Pacquiao was a prohibitive favorite to whip both Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito.
When it comes to Rick's contests...sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, sometimes it rains.
I'm actually still smarting about not being first to chime in with Bells Supermarkets as the answer to a recent query: "When Boom Boom Mancini fought Livingstone Bramble in Buffalo on June 1, 1984, what very different sponsor was used that night, never used before, and never since, for a major fight?"
It was my first pro fight and I'm a Buffalo-area guy, too, so I figured I should have had it.
Problem is...someone beat me to the punch.
But as it turns out, none of all that actually pertains to what became my substitute topic.
Instead, while meandering elsewhere on Facebook, I stumbled across a discussion thread in which the argument was being foisted that Manny Pacquiao was again worthy of recognition as Fighter of the Year in 2010 -- for a would- be record-setting fourth time.
I paused, reread the premise and immediately scanned the context to see if the author was serious.
Upon comprehending within a few moments that he was...voila!
I had a brand-new rant to go with.
And as I sit here 24 or so hours later, I still can't believe someone actually suggested it in the first place.
I mean, c'mon folks...the guy's undeniably great. I know he's a congressman. I know he smiles a lot. And I know he's pounded the gumption out of some pretty fair fighters while skipping through the rungs on the weight-class ladder in the last couple years.
But when, I ask...is enough, enough?
When does personality blur performance? When does reputation trump record?
If my colleagues at the Boxing Writers Association of America do vote his way again, I'll have my answer.
If they pick Pac over someone far more deserving -- Sergio Martinez, for example -- it'll be confirmed for me that the power of the Filipino rock star has officially crossed the boundaries of reason.
While I concede Pacquiao's routs of former 147-pound belt-holders Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito were indeed noteworthy for a guy who started out among flyweights, the fact remains that the jewel of the Top Rank stable was a prohibitive favorite to whip both men...which he did.
Going in, it would have been far bigger news if he'd lost than won. And coming out, the wins are really no more noteworthy than the ho-hum beatdowns by the Klitschko boys 100 pounds north.
Last I heard, no one was claiming Vitali or Wlad were worthy of special commendation.
Meanwhile, Argentine stylist Martinez began 2010 on the heels of a close December loss to Paul Williams, for which he was rewarded with a shot a Kelly Pavlik -- the Ohio hero who'd been prepping for a big run of his own after two middling defenses of the middleweight domain in 2009.
Lest we forget, the sturdy Pavlik was a 2-to-1 favorite of Las Vegas bettors going in and the choice of nearly 44 percent of message-board respondents to win by stoppage against a foe who'd been KO'd by Margarito in 2000 and had carried 159 pounds just once before in a 48-bout career.
Twelve rounds later, perceptions had changed.
Still, champion or not, when Martinez climbed into the ring for a Williams redux in Atlantic City in November, he was no better than an iffy proposition to reverse the previous result against a freakish foil long deemed worthy of the media title "world's most avoided" fighter.
The confident Williams claimed a full training camp would make all the difference in a second go-round, as opposed to the abbreviated prep time he'd had after his own 2009 match with Pavlik fell through.
As it turned out, the encore lasted barely 4 minutes.
With one jolting left hand, Martinez not only dispatched his overblown challenger and cemented a place in every reputable P4P top 10, but he also placed himself at the front of the legitimate -- and Mayweather-free -- line to stand in against Pacquiao in the New Year's biggest event.
While the wiser heads in the Arum posse will likely steer clear for already- tilled welterweight ground, their bald-faced boardroom snub shouldn't be joined in the voting booth by objective and grounded BWAA members who really ought to know better.
When ballot time comes up soon, I'm confident they'll choose accomplishment over adoration.
And if not, at least the Sven Ottke/Canastota premise will no longer be a bloggable offense.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week's title-fight schedule:
SATURDAY IBF bantamweight title -- Tacoma, Wash. Yonnhy Perez (champion) vs. Joseph Agbeko (No. 3 contender) Perez (20-0-1, 14 KO): Second title defense; Beat Agbeko (UD 12) in October 2009 Agbeko (27-2, 22 KO): Fifth title fight (3-1, 1 KO); Held IBF title from 2007-09 Fitzbitz says: "Unbeaten Colombian outhustles former champ a second time." Perez by decision
IBF/IBO/WBO heavyweight titles -- Mannheim, Germany Wladimir Klitschko (champion) vs. Dereck Chisora (No. 10 WBO/No. 20 IBO contender) Klitschko (55-3, 49 KO): Tenth IBF/IBO title defense; Unbeaten since 2004 (13-0, 10 KO) Chisora (14-0, 9 KO): First title fight; Four-fight stoppage streak (16 total rounds) Fitzbitz says: "Another notch on the belt of the world's dominant heavyweight." Klitschko in 9
IBF junior bantamweight title -- Torreon, Mexico Juan Alberto Rosas (champion) vs. Cristian Mijares (No. 11 contender) Rosas (32-5, 26 KO): First title defense; Four-fight win streak since 2008 (4-0, 2 KO) Mijares (40-6-2, 18 KO): Ninth title fight (7-1, 4 KO); Held WBA/WBC titles from 2007-08 Fitzbitz says: "Mijares regains his championship stature at 115 pounds." Mijares by decision
IBO bantamweight title -- Tacoma, Wash. Vic Darchinyan (champion) vs. Abner Mares (No. 3 contender) Darchinyan (35-2-1, 27 KO): First title defense; Former multi belt-holder at 112 and 115 pounds Mares (20-0-1, 13 KO): Second title fight (0-0-1, 0 KO); Drew in IBF title shot on May 22 Fitzbitz says: "Darchinyan takes first step in bantamweight tournament." Darchinyan by decision
WBA super lightweight title -- Las Vegas, Nev. Amir Khan (champion) vs. Marcos Maidana (interim champion) Khan (23-1, 17 KO): Third title defense; Second fight in United States (1-0, 1 KO) Maidana (29-1, 27 KO): Second title fight (0-1, 0 KO); Third fight in United States (2-0, 2 KO) Fitzbitz says: "Versatile Khan proves too dynamic for sturdy challenger." Khan by decision
WBC bantamweight title -- Torreon, Mexico Fernando Montiel (champion) vs. Eduardo Garcia (No. 8 contender) Montiel (43-2-2, 33 KO): Second title defense; Also holds WBO title at 118 pounds Garcia (21-5-1, 9 KO): Second title fight (0-1, 0 KO); Six-fight unbeaten streak since 2006 (5-0-1, 3 KO) Fitzbitz says: "Second-tier challenger won't detour Montiel's big fight in 2011." Montiel in 8
Last week's picks: 4-0 Overall picks record: 257-84 (75.3 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at www.twitter.com/fitzbitz.