In a moment of clarity, and for the first time in the fight, Oscar Larios knew exactly what he had to do. Lashing out with a left hook and following up with a spearing right, he had Manny Pacquiao, the reigning WBC International super featherweight champ, on the ropes early in the third round.
Unfortunately, all glassy-eyed and stunned, Pacquiao had his moment of clarity as well.
It is perhaps to Paquiao’s discredit that it was only then that he took Larios – a fierce competitor and as classy a fighter if there ever was one – seriously. Behind in points by then and fighting to keep the Mexican at bay until he could regain his senses, the PacMan turned on the switch.
By the seventh round, a right hook followed by a massive left cross by Pacquiao sent Larios down, and it was something the Mexican would never recover from. His confidence was gone, and the flurry of blows and in-fighting techinques that are Chololo’s trademark have left him. Larios was never noted for his power, and when he began swinging only with his right hand, the fight was over.
When the twelfth bell rang, it was almost a formality, although I disagree with commentator Sev Sarmienta’s account that Pacquio was toying with Larios. While never giving as good as he got, he took Pacquiao’s blows head on and never quit. It is a testament not only to his training, but to his heart. And while moral victories don’t show up on the stats sheet, sometimes, how you play the game counts.
This is a fight of contrasts and ironies: Pacquiao was clearly the better fighter but Larios had more heart: a state of affairs that is often the reverse whenever Pacquiao steps into the ring. Larios came in as a boxer known for his inside fighting skills, and despite his lack of power, is more than capable of scoring a knockout because he could let loose an astonishing barrage of punches. Pacquiao has the reputation for being a brawler and heavy hitter, but not much of a ring tactician. What we saw in the fight was a Larios unable to conistently land his combinations and a Pacquiao counter-punching, dodging, waving, and basically out-boxing Larios.
I am disappointed in Pacquiao’s attitude though, winning AND losing. Be a gracious winner for a change and stop bragging about how Larios’ hits never fazed you. Bravado is all well and good, but when the loser is as classy as Larios has shown himself to be, you’re just making yourself look like an ass. And enough of the “I’m doing this so the country can be united” angle, ok? As glad as I am to see you win, let’s drop the bullshit
As tune-up matches go, I’m glad this wasn’t another farce like the Fashan “3K Battery” fight; by fighting a great boxer in Larios, it more than confirms the assertion that Manny’s win over Morales last January (Pacquiao – Morales II) was not a fluke. It also makes the Pacquiao – Morales tiff on the 18th of November (tentatively) an even better fight, a true rivalry between the best fighters in the world.