Manny Pacquiao pounding the punching bag like a jackhammer, his tenacity fueled by American Keith Thurman’s trash talk, is a sight to behold.
Pacquiao has never been known to talk trash and neither is he the type to let it get into his nerves. In fact, from the time Pacquiao put on a preacher’s hat, he has been taking foes by surprise by citing verses from the Bible instead of talking tough in the pre-fight conference.
When American Adrien Broner threw a slew of verbal trash at Pacquiao before their January showdown, the Filipino ring icon ‘retaliated’ by hiring a comedian, Michael Blackson, to translate his replies to ‘trash talk’ versions. It turned out to be nothing more than a laugh trip.
Then again, Pacquiao’s mellowed façade has somehow affected his performance in the ring. Remember the time (November 2010) when he suddenly stopped pummeling Mexican Antonio Margarito and turned to the referee to ask him to stop the fight? Trainer Freddie Roach almost freaked out because Margarito could have taken advantage of the situation and sneaked in a Hail Mary punch.
A few years later, May 2015, fans were looking for Pacquiao to put on a serious game face for his megabuck showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pacquiao instead emerged from the dugout smiling and taking selfies with Roach. Nobody really found it funny and a few propounded it was disrespectful to the sport. Can you imagine a no-nonsense slugger like Mike Tyson smiling, taking a selfie while on his way to the ring?
Pacquiao taking selfies, smiling and sounding more like a preacher than a fighter may have earned him bonus points as a politician, but definitely not as a boxer. Not a few believe that Pacquiao’s ‘change of garb’ has made him soft. Indeed, it is difficult to ‘glove’ thy neighbor when somebody inside your head is telling you to ‘love’ thy neighbor instead.
It thus came as a breath of fresh air when Pacquiao recently fired back at Thurman’s saliva bashing.
“He (Thurman) is a loudmouth outside the ring,” Pacquiao was recently quoted as saying. “I’m motivated for this training camp because of his trash talk.”
Thurman has been flailing away at Pacquiao with acerbic words. He mocked Pacquiao for his short, “T-Rex arms” and called him a “little bunny rabbit for the way he hops around the ring.”
When Pacquiao closed his segment in the press conference by reciting Scripture, Thurman countered by saying that he will “crucify” the Filipino.
Pacquiao apparently has had enough. “A lot of my opponents say useless words before the fights,” said Pacquiao. “When we get into the ring, it will change.”
Truth be told, boxing fans have been missing the ferocity Pacquiao used to display in the ring. In the past, when Pacquiao wobbled an opponent, there was no escaping his unadulterated fury. Pacquiao showed no mercy and battered foes to a pulp.
Pacquiao won an unprecedented eight world titles by bulldozing some of the biggest names in boxing. When Pacquiao the ‘caveman’ became the ‘statesman,’ the brutality was tempered and what followed was a string of ho-hum, decision victories. Pacquiao’s marketability and popularity in the sport took a hit. Pacquiao’s boxing followers yearned for the gladiator who once licked his own blood in the heat of battle.
Hopefully, Thurman’s trash talk, while aimed at selling the fight (there being no history of bad blood between the combatants) will really get into Pacquiao’s nerves. To get the eye of the tiger back, Pacquiao needs a little horse kick from behind. We already like what we are seeing, Pacquiao promising to make Thurman ‘eat his words’ as he hammers away at the sandbag without remorse.
Go ahead Thurman, make Pacquiao angry. You wouldn’t like it when the ‘Pacman’ gets really angry.
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