Sportswriter blames Ariza for Pacquiao performance
MANILA, Philippines – Veteran sportswriter Al Mendoza on Monday said it wasn’t the real Manny Pacquiao who showed up for the megafight against undefeated American boxer Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Speaking to radio dzMM, Mendoza said Pacquiao’s speed was noticeably absent, especially during the rounds where he had the upper hand against Bradley.
“From Rounds 3-7, he controlled the fight but the machine-gun punches were not there. Why not? I think he got slow. His footwork was slow and his punches were slow,” he said.
“I didn’t see the real Pacquiao in that fight. I saw the fake Pacquiao. Even then, Pacquiao was still the winner in that fight,” he said.
Mendoza said one person who should share the blame for Pacquiao’s poor performance is his conditioning coach Alex Ariza.
Ariza left the Pacman’s training camp in Baguio City last month to train Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for another bout. His exit caused a big flap in the Pacquiao camp, with coach Freddie Roach saying Ariza was unprofessional and had left because of a dispute over money.
“[Ariza] is supposed to be the strength and conditioning expert. Pacquiao’s condition, I will insist, was affected. Even Wakee Salud said he didn’t like the idea of Pacquiao using the treadmill before the fight because he’s always cramping up. I think that was wrong,” Mendoza said.
Concerns over Pacquiao’s performance started as early as the weigh-in Friday night after the Pacman came in at 147 lbs, his heaviest for any fight, while Bradley came a pound lighter at 146 lbs.
Some pundits noted that Bradley looked shredded and in prime condition while Pacquiao looked soft.
In the actual fight, Compubox stats showed that Pacquiao landed 253 of his 751 punches for 34%, and 190 of 493 power punches for 39%.
Bradley landed 159 of his 839 punches or 19%, and 108 of his 390 power punches or 28%.
The three judges, however, scored it differently, giving Bradley the split decision victory.
Pacquiao had no follow-up
In the interview, Mendoza said he thought the first 2 rounds went to Bradley because Pacquiao was too defensive.
When Pacquiao ramped up his game in Round 3, he failed to follow through even though his punches were clearly affecting the American boxer.
“Mabagal siya at halos walang follow-up eh,” he said.
Mendoza said he felt Pacquiao trying to follow through in the later rounds but Bradley had already switched tactics and kept his distance from the Pacman. He said it was the American boxer who ended strong especially in the last 4 rounds.
The sportswriter said one could make the observation that Pacquiao failed to convince the judges that he won. Still, he said a win is a win especially since Pacquiao had Bradley at his mercy in several of the early rounds.
Another issue that particularly stung in Pacquiao’s defeat is the rematch clause in Bradley’s contract. Had Pacquiao won the fight, there would have been no more talk of a Pacquiao-Bradley rematch.
“Yung rematch clause of the fight is also painful. They kept mentioning the rematch so those with dirty minds will think, and the fight was done in Las Vegas where all the gambling is happening…” he said.
He, however, said there is no proof that the Pacquiao-Bradley match was fixed.
Pacquiao didn’t wear his rosary
Mendoza also addressed questions on whether Pacquiao’s renewed religious zeal may have affected the outcome of his fight.
In the interview, the sportswriter noted the Pacman was not wearing his rosary in the ring, the first time he had ever done so in 7 years.
“Ang nangyari talaga kahapon – masakit e. Very delicate pag-usapan ang religion. Maraming nakapansin - he went up without his rosary. Ano ibig sabihin nun? It was the first time that he did it in 7 years. Laging may rosaryo yan sa leeg niya pag-akyat sa lona. Pagkatapos niyang lumuhod dun, tatanggalin niya…pero kahapon hindi niya suot,” he said.
Mendoza said Pacquiao’s refusal to wear a rosary might be part of his new beliefs as a Bible preacher. He said he will leave it to Pacquiao and his friends to explain why the former welterweight champ had discontinued the ritual.
The analyst said the decision dealt a knockout to boxing.