Manny in fantasy fights

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

What if former eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao faced unbeaten Edwin Valero, Sugar Ray Leonard and Nicaraguan legend Alexis Arguello? Who would’ve won?

In a book entitled “Pacquiao Versus The Modern Greats,” writer Richard Poche simulated fantasy fights pitting Pacquiao against several fighters, presuming they were in their prime. Valero was the WBA superfeatherweight and WBC lightweight champion from Venezuela. A southpaw, he’s the only champion in WBC history to win every fight by KO, compiling a record of 27-0, with 27 KOs. Valero was found hanging by his pants in prison the day after his arrest on suspicion of murdering his wife in 2010. He was only 28. Only two months before his death, Valero stopped Tony DeMarco in Monterrey, Mexico, to retain the WBC lightweight crown. Poche said Pacquiao would halt Valero in 12. “Valero was a power-punching machine whose offense was his defense,” he wrote. “He was arguably not too far removed from Pacquiao when it came to left cross power but could not match PacMan in technique and defense. That would be the difference in a nuclear encounter.”

Leonard was a 1976 Olympic gold medalist and fought as a pro from 1977 to 1997, winning world titles in five divisions. He had a record of 36-3-1, with 25 KOs. Leonard is now 66. “Leonard would be able to match Pacquiao in footspeed and would have a decided edge in natural strength,” said Poche. “Leonard had a stubborn streak and was often willing to fight his opponent’s fight. Leonard’s power would be too much in the end. Pacquiao may have his moments, maybe even big moments in stunning Leonard but Sugar Ray would storm back and win in dramatic fashion like he always did. Leonard by KO10.”

Arguello was the WBA featherweight, WBC superfeatherweight and WBC lightweight titleholder. He fought from 1968 to 1995. Arguello died in 2009 at 57 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the heart. As a pro, Arguello compiled a record of 77-8, with 62 KOs. His victims included Filipinos Rey Tam (KO5) in 1978, Rolando Navarrete (KO4) in 1980 and Andy Ganigan (KO5) in 1982. “Arguello would be made to order for Pacman to gobble up by the late rounds,” said Poche. “Pacquiao would hurt and floor Arguello early. Arguello would be proud enough to mount a comeback and give a valiant effort but in the end, the speed and power would be too much for him and he’d fall in the late rounds. Pacquiao by KO10.”

Here’s how Poche figured Pacquiao would fare against other big-name fighters: Wilfredo Gomez (Pacquiao KO7), Salvador Sanchez (Sanchez UD12), Azumah Nelson (Pacquiao UD12), Jeff Fenech (Pacquiao KO9), Naseem Hamed (Pacquiao KO6), Bazooka Limon (Pacquiao KO10), Hector Camacho (Pacquiao UD12), Ray Mancini (Pacquiao KO11), Roger Mayweather (Pacquiao KO8), Julio Cesar Chavez (Chavez UD12), Pernell Whitaker (Pacquiao W12), Aaron Pryor (Pacquiao KO7), Roberto Duran (Duran KO10), Tommy Hearns (Hearns KO3), Wilfred Benitez (Benitez UD12) and Felix Trinidad (Trinidad KO4).

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