20-20 Hindsight: Great Night for Pacman, Bad Night for Cortez and More

Speed kills.

It's a bit of an overused adage, especially in the world of sports, but it got that way for a reason: a lot of times, it's true. Manny Pacquiao proved that on Saturday night, quickly dispelling any notions that stepping up to lightweight might rob him of his explosiveness. Poor David Diaz may as well have been boxing Barry Allen, as Pacman's display of speed left him so befuddled that he punctuated his post-fight interview with a profanity.

Even in the early rounds, when Diaz was covering up and blocking a fair number of incoming punches, some were still getting through his guard. Many were right hooks, shots that Pacquiao hasn't thrown as often or as accurately in the past. Add in some trademark lefts and enough lower body movement to quickly hop back and negate what seemed like a good strategy for Diaz - to close the distance and try to go to the body - and it really was just a matter of time before Manny broke his opponent down.

It was such an impressive display that it made me reconsider an idea I thought was laughable as recently as last week: the idea of a superfight between Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton. Previously, I thought that would be suicide for Manny, that the Hitman was simply too big and too strong. Now? All bets are off.

Yes, it would mean another step up in weight for Pacquiao, but he handled this one so easily, it certainly seems like he could do it again. It's also a real possibility that Hatton simply would be overwhelmed by Manny's hand speed, much like he was against Floyd Mayweather. There's no doubt it would be the biggest money fight that could be made without the involvement of Oscar De La Hoya, and with Pacquiao's Filipino faithful and Ricky's chanting throngs, the atmosphere would be unreal.

If you watched the whole pay-per-view, you know Pacquiao's performance wasn't the only spectacle of the night. We had supposedly heavily favored Tye Fields, he of the gaudy record padded with inferior competition, getting dropped by Monte Barrett (not exactly the most feared KO artist) in less than a minute. We had Steven Luevano and Mario Santiago both get up off the canvas to scrap their way to a draw. And last but not least, we saw one of the most bizarre, ridiculous displays of officiating on a major boxing broadcast in some time.

It came in the fourth round of Humberto Soto's fight with Francisco Lorenzo. Soto had already knocked Lorenzo down once in the round, bloodying him in the process. As Lorenzo was wilting in the face of another onslaught, referee Joe Cortez looked like he was going to stop the fight, pulling Soto away. But the fight continued, and Soto went back on the attack.

Lorenzo had trouble deciding whether or not to take a knee, so Soto kept throwing. Finally Francisco dropped into one corner and Cortez waved off the action. It looked like a stoppage for Soto.

Except it wasn't. After a lengthy and confusing huddle with ringside officials, Cortez awarded a DQ victory to Lorenzo. The explanation? Soto hit him in the back of the head while he was already on the canvas. That came as some surprise to those of us watching the fight, who merely saw Soto flattening Lorenzo's nose and pulping the rest of his face until he had enough.

Replays showed that one glancing blow did land on the top of Lorenzo's head right before Cortez jumped in to end the fight. HBO wasn't allowed to interview the ref, so a member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission faced the cameras. Conveniently, he said the ringside doctor determined the late punch gave Lorenzo a concussion, and since it was an illegal punch, Soto had to be disqualified. Never mind, I guess, that Cortez's strange indecision led to that punch in the first place, or that Lorenzo was one more legal punch away from getting knocked silly.

It would be easy to pile on Cortez and say he doesn't know what he's doing, but the truth is that he has a great reputation and has always seemed more than competent to this observer's eyes. Instead, I'll call it a really bad night with a series of questionable decisions on his part that all added up to something for which injustice is probably too mild a term. Here's hoping the powers that be reward Soto as if he'd just won a decisive victory, which is what he should have earned.

1 comment:

uatu said...

Uatu Thinks Manny Knocks Hatton Out