A lot of people have seen a change in Manny Pacquiao over the past two years. He is no longer the guy who could once pummel his opposition with ease. He is no longer the person to whom boxing is the end all and be all. He is no longer the man who had a certain amount of personal indiscretions going on outside the ring, but who was all business inside of it.
He has clearly grown, evolved and become noticeably different.
Some of the change can be attributed to outside factors. Part of the reason that Pacquiao is no longer pummeling his opposition with ease is because, prior to his last two fights, they insisted on running from him. How do you knockout someone who is running away from you? (Read: Shane Mosley.) Of course, that doesn’t explain why he couldn’t knockout Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley. The latter is a marginal fighter, at best, and the former was ancient when they last squared off. He couldn't knock them out because, well, he just couldn't.
As far as boxing becoming less important to him – that was simply unavoidable. As people grow and mature, priorities change. Before, the Sweet Science ranked atop Pacquiao’s priority list. That’s why everything beginning with his family and ending with his politics took a backseat to it. Now the roles have reversed; boxing comes after both of those things. To his fans, the folks that have been following him since the very beginning, the idea of Pacquiao not putting everything he has into boxing is crazy. To others, though, folks who are more removed from the whole situation, it’s sort of understandable.
These days, every time someone talks about Pacquiao having changed, they seem to mean it in a negative context. Well, on Tuesday of this week, Marco Antionio Barrera attended a practice session and had a few words with reporters afterward. He too acknowledged that Pacquiao had changed, but he meant it in a positive way.
“It is going to be a good fight. I think Manny needs to find a knock out so there won’t be any controversy. When he fought with me he was a completely different person. His body, his work, his people and I think he is stronger now,” he said to Elie Seckbach of esnewsreporting.com (via PhilBoxing)
That is high praise coming from a guy like Barrera. For all of this talk about how Pacquiao has fallen off and how he is worse than ever – the sample size is two fights. And he won one of those fights, and should have won the other. That’s hardly an indicator that someone is past his prime.
If you don’t believe us when we say that Pacquiao has changed for the better over the past couple of years, maybe Barrera’s take will convince you.