|And in This Corner|
With a hatful of well matched major championship fights slated for the next several months on regular and pay cable television -- in the wake of Kelly Pavlik's thrilling knockout win in late September over Jermain Taylor to take the middleweight title, there is Juan Diaz vs. Julio Diaz for the lightweight crown, Joe Calzaghe vs. Mikkel Kessler for the super-middleweight belt and Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton for welterweight honors, among others -- the sport should provide compelling action before year's end.
If you were to ask a boxing aficionado whom he most looks forward to watching in the ring, the most likely response would be Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao, 28, the whirlwind super-featherweight (130 pounds) and 2006 Fighter of the Year. Pacquiao (pronounced "PAC-ee-ow") is set for a rematch against the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera in Las Vegas on Oct. 6 -- Pacquiao scored a dominating 11th round knockout win in their first fight -- and my $49.95 for the pay-per-view telecast already sits next to the telephone, as should yours. Why the fuss? Pacquiao, a national hero in his native Philippines, with a career record of 44 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws with 35 knockouts, is an all-action fighter with shocking power for such a small man. He is the only man to K.O. both Barrera and the recently retired Erik Morales, two surefire Hall of Fame fighters. Freddie Roach, the former lightweight contender who runs Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles, trained Mike Tyson in the twilight of Tyson's career. He claims Pacquiao, his current star pupil, has more explosive power for his size. "The dents Pacquiao makes in the heavy bag, the pop it produces -- people stop working out and just watch him," says Roach. "Without a doubt, pound-for-pound, he's the best puncher in the world today." And what most often puts the "ow" in Pacquiao is his signature left cross. Recently, in an effort to become a more knowledgeable couch potato, I set out to find out what put the pop in this punch.