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Vivek Wallace Presents: 'OPEN MIC FAN MAIL' : Manny Pacquiao - Is He Truly The Greatest?

pacmanEvery Wednesday ESB will feature a new published letter directly from hardcore fight fans just like you, followed by a response from Boxing Scribe Vivek Wallace! For those fight fans who don't like what the average boxing scribe has to say, there's only one way to change it.....SOUND OFF! Send all 'Open Mic Fan Mail' letters to wallace@eastsideboxing.com, and remember, there are 3 simple rules to the game: Keep content short and concise, profanity free, and don't be shy.....just shine....the mic is yours!. Today's segment comes from Carlo T. (Denver, CO):

Vivek,

I have mixed views on Manny Pacquiao when it comes to "the greatest" conversation. I'm not a hater like some out there, but I'm certainly not one to promote him on some untouchable level either. I saw the piece on "60 Minutes" last Sunday, and it baffles me even more when I hear some of the things said. I've been a fight fan for a long time. Dating back to the 70's to be exact. And I can admit that I haven't seen anyone do what he's done, but to have Arum call him "the greatest", and have him refer to himself as the greatest really makes me scratch my head, because in the 80's alone I can think of atleast 4 fighters (Leonard, Duran, Hearns, Hagler) who didn't all get the same level of promotion, but brought the same tenacity, and did it without the aid of catchweights, strange contract clauses, or any other shenanigans..

I can think of a number of reasons why I would say that Pacquiao is comparable to the all-time greats, but I really just don't know if he can be ordained on this 'holy' level just yet. As a man who watched Ali at his best, I think there's no way in hell you can compare the two, but I acknowledge Pacquiao's greatness. I didn't see the entire career of guys like Louis, Robinson, Johnson, and others, but I have watched enough footage to know that when you talk about any fighter being "the greatest ever" you pretty much need to be able to remove all critical questions from the equation, and when I think of Pacquiao taking on Diaz rather than the undisputed lightweight champion Nate Campbell, or the contract stipulations, it makes me want to remove him from this conversation, but you can't deny his effort. I know that you try to keep it down the middle, and even though I've heard you talk on this a million times, I'm still curious to know more of your thoughts on this whole "greatest" thing.

Carlo T.

(RESPONSE TO LETTER BELOW)


Carlo,

Truthfully, I probably wouldn't be a good person to ask, because over the past I've been very vocal about what I think has to be present in a fighter you call "great", and as intricate as that list is, it still varies greatly from what I think needs to be present within that fighter to deem him "the greatest". I'll start my passage by saying that any of these things ultimately come down to one persons opinion. Some may attract more of that particular vote than others, but overall, there is no consensus choice because everyone will never agree on one man. I think you are totally valid in your response that Pacquiao's accomplishments can't be denied, but I also see the line that separates a great accomplishment from one that may leave room for question, removing the odds of obtaining that "greatest" sticker.

Out of respect for Pacquiao and this Saturday's defining moment in his career, I'll steer clear of the allegation of steroids and how it affects this conversation, because I don't think we can truly count something against him that hasn't been proven - regardless of the heightened level of suspicion. What I will say, however, is that there are other things surrounding his legacy that would make some question his eligibility for that "greatest of all time" mantra.

When you look at excitability.....that sheer 'rush' factor.....I think you have to agree there has been no one in the sport to bring that passion to living rooms around the world like Manny Pacquiao since a young "Iron" Mike Tyson. Bar none! When you look at warrior spirit again, there's been no one in recent history that comes even close, and I'd employ anyone to show me a more fearless figure anywhere in the sport today. When it comes to these type of attributes that keep us entertained, I have to agree that they give him a strong case. Trouble is, when you're talking "greatest", it goes beyond that measure. When you turn the page and start to look at pure fundamentals....critical thinking....offensive execution....defensive execution.....or that innate ability to hit and not be hit, or stand in the face of danger when that one opponent finds a way to deem that attribute non-effective, these intangibles are not only priceless, but so rare that ownership of these jewels almost immediately place one in contention.

None of us can argue that Pacquiao possess these traits in great abundance. He does possess a few moderately, but definitely not all. This reality will keep him from ever owning "the greatest" mantle, in my opinion. Ownership of the term "greatest" would have to encompass a talent that transcends all in both the current and historical landscape of the sport. Many call Ali "the greatest". They do this because he found a way to transcend the sport on a deeper level, through bold moves with political implications, and beyond. Robinson was actually viewed as "the greatest", because he came closest to possessing those coveted attributes mentioned and always put them on display. When Arum says "Pacquiao is the greatest to ever box", I don't think you can put too much stock in that excerpt.

This is a fighter he promotes. He did the identical thing with Mayweather. Prior to that he said it about others. Regarding Pacquiao's statement that he's "he greatest", here's my take. I've seen several articles around the sport about this statement, and I've yet to hear negativity attached. Mayweather boasted this same statement, and in contrast, he was always ripped for it. Many would wonder why I never ripped him like others, but those same people are now learning that like Mayweather, all this is is Pacquiao's confidence in his own ability. I have no problem with him displaying his confidence in his own ability.

So, bottomline, it's not my job to try to dictate who "the greatest" should be, and neither will I try. If Pacquiao defeats Margarito, many supporters will use that to cement their beliefs. If he loses, and to a man with far less skills, it would firmly cement my belief - regarding a need for fundamental skills, etc. So, at the end of the day, it's all a matter of personal opinion, but one thing will always hold true and it helps decipher why Pacquiao has gained so much attention in this debate: A great big man will always be given grand respect, but a great little man will always be able to accomplish more because he has much more road to travel. Just something to think about as you decide who you think is "the greatest".

Vivek-

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at 954*292*7346, vivexemail@yahoo.com, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEKWALLACE747), Facebook, and Myspace).

Article posted on 10.11.2010



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