Method in the Madness: The Pacquiao Blitz

Milan Ordoñez on Apr 17, 2015 06:52 PM
Method in the Madness: The Pacquiao Blitz
Photo credit: Chris Farina

Ask any man on the street why they think Manny Pacquiao is one of the elite boxers of this generation, and their answers will have one common theme: he comes to fight every single time. His aura of prestige mainly comes from the manner of which he inflicts damage through his straight left hand.

Once it lands on the button, his opponent can either go down instantly like how Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Ricky Hatton did, or have their faces turn into distorted pulp, as displayed by Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, and most recently, Chris Algieri.

The evolution

Even as a young, one-dimensional fighter, he was heavily reliant on driving his left hand into his opponents’ chins, after a basic jab set-up. The danger of it was that Pacquiao became too easy to predict. Here it is in full view during his 1996 bout against Sung-Yul Lee, where the Korean conveniently neutralized the punch.

Through time, his succeeding opponents began finding a way around the power left. Noticing how his fighter’s lack of a threat using his right hand was becoming a problem, Freddie Roach began fine-tuning Pacquiao’s game by diversifying his attacks, particularly with the use of the right hand. This newly sharpened tool was in full display during his 2008 battle with David Diaz.

Here, it is seen how Pacquiao’s lead right hook proved to be the game-changer of the fight. 

Pacquiao’s evolution from a brawler to a more complete boxer was a relatively smooth ride. Adding more movement and angles made him one of the most complicated opponents to prepare for.

Speed Kills

The first of this series explained how Floyd Mayweather’s pad work greatly influences his fighting style. For Manny Pacquiao, it is his heavy bag routine.

 

The one main caveat that most Pacquiao opponents have taken note of is the volume of punches Manny is accustomed to throwing. As seen in his most recently documented heavy bag drill, Pacquiao trains himself to thrown not one, not two, but at least eight punches in one sitting.

The objective is to overwhelm his opponent with a barrage of lightning quick punches, and then finish it up with a power shot. In this case, he used a right upper cut to punctuate his combo.

In the actual fight, these drills do work like a charm. 

The flurry of punches has been one of the key aspects in Pacquiao’s game that was the byproduct of Freddie Roach’s training. He was no longer throwing his straight lefts with reckless abandon, and instead, was using the correct and effective set-ups to find a home for them.

On the flipside, Manny Pacquiao is not exactly known as a defensive fighter. After all, the key takeaway for his offense is that he eats one punch to land the combination he opts for.

He can, however, fluster his opponents using his lateral movement. This tactic works perfectly well for plodders like Brandon Rios, who are not truly adept in moving their feet and creating angles for their punches. In this sequence, Pacquiao easily toys with Rios, and again, it opened up opportunities for him to land his straight left hand.

It also works against fighters who choose not to be in a stationary position. Here it is in action against Timothy Bradley in their April 2014 rematch. 

He may be tamed by the Juan Manuel Marquez knockout in 2012, but Pacquiao’s manner of assault remains the same. On the surface, it may look like ill-advised aggression, but in reality, every single set-up leading to the attack is all calculated to perfection.

The scary thing about it is that Manny Pacquiao has got these kinds of shots landing again. That being said, it is safe to expect fireworks on May 2nd.

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Follow this writer on Twitter: @Mr_Ordonez

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