MANILA — It appears now that Manny Pacquiao is the only fighter in the world who enjoys “protection” from Bob Arum.
Since 2003, the wily but genius American promoter pampered Pacquiao with an assorted list of “falling stars” to ensure his dominance in prizefighting.
These “falling stars” who included Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya, used to be biggest marquee names when Pacquiao was only a skinny flyweight oriental champion in the early 90s, and had no idea that in the future, he would invade the Land of Milk and Honey and cement his greatness at their expense.
No doubt Pacquiao is the best in the world, but it would have been a different scenario in the glitzy Las Vegas if Arum arranged Pacquiao’s showdowns with these hard-hitting gladiators during their prime.
With Uncle Bob’s protection, Pacquiao, now a congressman and PBA playing coach to boot, walked his way to astonishing multi-million dollar contracts interrupted only in 2012 with a pair of back-to-back losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez.
As the co-promoter of the Nicholas Walters vs Nonito Donaire Jr. battle for the WBA super-featherweight championship in Carson, California last October 18 (October 19 in the Philippines), Arum knew Donaire was facing a younger, hungrier and deadlier undefeated foe with a 115 KO percentage.
But Arum did not oppose the fight vs Walters.
At 28, Walters, known as “The Axe Man,” is at the prime of his career.
With a quickness of Sugar Ray Leonard, a stance of Thomas Hearns and a force of Marvin Hagler, Walters (25-0, 21 KOs) could smash into pieces opponents with iron Halloween masks.
Donaire, who made waves in the 118-lb division in his 20s, is three years older and is a visitor in the 128-lb division despite his win against featherweight Simpiwe Vetyeka in Macao, China on May 31 this year.
Like junior lightweight terror Gabriel Flash Elorde, who capitulated twice in as many encounters versus lightweight monarch Carlos Ortiz in the 60s, Donaire looked like a police trainee swapping feathers against a military platoon leader in the heavier weight class.
Arum would never allow Pacquiao to face Mosley and De La Hoya when the two hard-hitting American ring titans weren’t yet semi-retired or over the hill.
Except for senior citizens Jorge Arce, Vic Darchinyan and Guillermo Rigondeaux, most of Donaire’s rivals in his last 10 fights were below 30s and were active ring tacticians and executioners. They are Fernando Montiel, Volodymyr Sydorenko, Omar Andres Narvaez, Wilfredo Vasquez Jr., Jeffrey Mathebula, Vetyeka, and Toshiaki Nishioka.
Either Arum, CEO of Top Rank, wanted to “punish” the prodigal son Donaire for abandoning America’s most influential promoter in 2011 for rival Golden Boy Promotion, or Arum wanted to give Donaire a “graceful exit” since 10 fights ago?
Although Donaire (33-3, 21 KOs) managed to clobber those high caliber pugilists one after another, his efforts were Pyrrhic.
The culmination of Donaire’s hard struggle to walk past those dangerous opponents was the 6th round destruction from the hands of the flamboyant Walters.
Donaire did nothing wrong in the ring. He was superb, brimming with confidence and throwing punches effectively. But he was simply outclassed, out-muscled and out-dueled by a superior fighter from Jamaica.
One thing’s for sure. Arum did not “protect” Donaire the way he protected Pacquiao.
Let’s see how will Arum reinvent Donaire after the Walters debacle.
Let’s see how will Arum revive The Filipino Flash’s career from the ashes of The Axe Man annihilation. Only then can we conclude if indeed Donaire was fed to the lion.