Monday, August 17, 2009
Could Manny Pacquiao Beat Me Up?
I spent my Saturday at L.A. Live, bowling at the "Lucky Strike" and playing games at the ESPN Zone (before closing out the night by being, ahem, entertained by some beautiful ladies at this fine establishment near L.A.X., if you follow me), all in honor of my cousin's 18th birthday/going away to college. While I was there a 3-on-3 tournament was being held, as part of a three-day event being sponsored by the Lakers and partaken by celebrities and common men alike. When I arrived they were warming up for a game, and right there on the court in front of me were two of my favorite people whom I don't know: the talented, underutilized (and, for his performance as Avon Barksdale on The Wire, underappreciated) actor Wood Harris, and the great welterweight champion Shane Mosley. Harris was tall and slim, as I would have expected. It was the tiny Mosley who's size surprised me. It's one thing to know how small most of these welterweight and lower weight class fighters are. It's another thing to see it in person. Shane Mosley is a fighting machine, a bad, bad man. He's also a virtual pip squeak. His arms looked skinny and weak and he didn't even seem the 5'9" he's listed at. He was just puny. Having seen him in the flesh I find it hard to fathom how someone so small could beat people up for a living. I've eaten burrito's from Mexican restaurants that were bigger than Shane Mosley.
And to think, Manny Pacquiao is even smaller! I bring this up only because Pacman's frightening destruction of Ricky Hatton in May got me and my father to wondering if the little Filipino was so bad a dude that he could take out a bouncer-sized fellow like myself, a curiosity inspired by the sheer disparity in dimensions. I am a 6'2", 325 lb sportswriter in the body of a nose tackle. Manny is 5'6 1/2" and 140-ish. The consensus is that size does matter in a fight, in fact that it is the most important factor. But then again, as the saying goes, speed kills. So, who would win this imaginary squabble?
Before we consider that question any further, I think first I should tell you a few things about myself. I am 21 years old. I have never been in a fight. I have "gone body" in playful contests of machismo with friends but I have never been punched in the face or had anyone swing in that direction. I have had those same buddies I sparred with tell me that my punches do not hurt, and that I punch lazily. But I have also had other people tell me that my punches do hurt, that I am a very hard puncher. But in recent times I have become quite a fan of the sweet science, to the point that I even dropped some coinage on a punching bag. It's one thing to just be big; it's another thing to be big and know how to throw a punch. Whereas before - when I was in high school and middle school and engaging in these friendly battles - I was the former, these days I am closer to the latter, having learned much better how to throw a blow, and furthermore having practiced putting together combination's on my standing Everlast.
The scenario my father initially proposed went like this: Say I was in a liquor store, prepared to make my purchase, and I saw Manny standing in line ahead of me and decided that I was just going to walk up, nudge the little fella out of the way, and cut in front of him - and Manny took offense to this act of disrespect, decided that he would correct it the old fashioned way, and just swung on me. Could he knock me out? Could I take his best shot? We wondered about the left hook he deployed to render the Hitman unconscious - would it have the same effect on me? Almost certainly no, we decided. I am twice Hatton's size, so it is almost guaranteed that I would withstand it much more effectively. But could he knock me down with a punch? Could he rock the big guy off of his feet? Or would I merely shake it off and proceed to manhandle the southpaw slugger?
And what if we doubled up? I'm not talking about Manny just taking a swing at me now, I'm speaking about us both actually raising our fists and assuming the fighting position, going toe-to-toe, shooting the fair the one, as it is called in some circles. There is no doubt that, if I were able to catch Manny, to land a fairly clean shot, I could knock him out. I don't care if he is the pound-for-pound champ, or that Bert Sugar called him one of the 20 best boxers ever following his defeat of Hatton - he's still as small as he is and I'm still as big as I am. But that's a big part of the equation, though: Could I find him? Would I be too slow to locate such an elusive and well-trained target, a man for whom it is only instinct to avoid the punch of another man? Would he pepper my face with 18 consecutive punches before I even knew what was hitting me?
I think my best bet would be to just let go on him, to just swing away on him with anger and aggression, to impose my size on him and overwhelm him with it until the best he could do is just cover up, to try and shield himself from the avalanche. Because remember, not only do I outweigh by almost 200 pounds, but I'm taller than him by half-a-foot. So those punches would be reigning down on him and coming at him from all angles.
We'll never know the answer, obviously - unless, of course, I challenge Pac to a fight when I make my planned trip to the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood (the boxing hot spot and residence of Manny's training camps owned by his trainer, Freddie Roach) once he begins preparing for his November clash with Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas, and he accepts my invitation. All I know is that after seeing the diminutive Sugar Shane at L.A Live this past weekend, I remember thinking to myself, "There's no way he could take me." And as I said, Manny is smaller than Shane. Actually, I think that answers the question. At least for me it does.