To say fans of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao have had a love-hate relationship with me is an understatement. They’ve called me the greatest boxing writer of all time and they’ve called me a baby killer.
I frequently engage them in arguments in the comments sections of this blog, but over time, I’ve found I have to repeat myself over and over again. It gets a trifle tiresome. So what I’ve done is write a blog entry devoted to answering all the most common remarks of Pacquiao fans. That way, next time someone says, “Tim, you are gay and need to shut up,” I can just respond with a comment that links to this entry and add a note that answers, “Please see #15.”
And I must include this disclaimer: While I am critical of some Pacquiao fans in this post, I am by no means saying that all Pacquiao fans are bad customers. A great many of them I interact with are a real pleasure to speak with, and a great many of them are embarrassed by some of the more loutish Pacmaniacs. I, for instance, count myself as a Pacquiao fan. (Hell, I even kind of have a soft spot for the loutish Pacfans. I appreciate the passion of Pacquiao’s fans.)
1. Pacquiao is not the greatest of all time, although he is rapidly climbing the list. One of the great things about Pacquiao is how many new fans he has brought to the sport. But many of those new fans confuse the excellence of Pacquiao with a belief that he must therefore be the best fighter of all time.
The thing about being the best fighter of all time is that there’s a lot of competition from fighters who fought and beat more good opponents, and better opponents, than Pacquiao has. Pacquiao is moving up the list of all-time greats very quickly. But for those who joined the sport, here’s an ESPN list from a couple years ago of the best fighters of all time.
Ex.: Here’s just one fighter who’s better than Pacquiao – Sugar Ray Robinson. Robinson beat 10 Hall of Famers in a career that included 175 wins. Pacquiao has beaten four future Hall of Famers in a career that includes 48 wins. The two fighters Pacquiao beat that rank highest on the ESPN all-time list are Marco Antonio Barrera (#43) and Oscar De La Hoya (#39). The two fighters Robinson beat that rank highest on the ESPN all-time list are Jake LaMotta (#28) and Henry Armstrong (#3).
2. Beating good fighters in one weight class is better than beating OK fighters in multiple weight classes. When Pacquiao fans explain why he is better than this fighter or that fighter, they often mention that he has fought in weight classes from junior flyweight to welterweight. And indeed, it is a very impressive aspect of his resume that he can be effective 40 pounds above where he started his career.
But fighting in multiple weight classes is not the most important thing when assessing a fighter’s achievements. Hypothetically, it’s less impressive to be a boxer who beat three C+ opponents in three weight classes than it is to be a boxer who beat three A+ opponents in one weight class.
Ex.: Muhammad Ali, considered by some the greatest fighter of all time, only fought in one weight class his whole life, heavyweight. But while he was there, he beat some of the best heavyweights that ever lived. Among smaller men, Marvin Hagler was a lifelong middleweight.
3. Winning an alphabet title belt does not, in and of itself, make a fighter good. Many fighters want to win the title belts offered by the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF. And frequently, the fighters who win those belts are the very best in their weight class. But the number of those belts Pacquiao has won has little to do with whether he is a good fighter or not. He is a good fighter for far more important reasons.
But that is not always the case. There used to be only one champion per division. (There also used to be fewer divisions.) Now there are four alphabet title belts per division. Mathematically, that makes it significantly easier to win a title belt today than it was before. And sometimes, fighters don’t even have to win a fight to receive a belt. Sometimes, an alphabet sanctioning organization decides to strip a belt from one fighter and award it to another fighter for no reason. That’s why it’s more important to win a Ring magazine title belt than it is to win any other kind of belt – a fighter can only lose his belt to another fighter, by retiring, or by moving to a different weight class, and vacancies can only be filled by pitting the best against the best. Pacquiao deserves a lot of credit for winning Ring belts, but less credit for winning alphabet title belts.
Ex.: David Diaz is a pretty good lightweight. But he did not win the championship belt he got before fighting Pacquiao by beating anyone. He got it because a sanctioning organization took the belt from another fighter and gave it to him. He was not “the champion” of the lightweight division before Pacquiao beat him. He was just a titleholder, and Pacquiao beating him so easily was impressive because Diaz was a pretty good lightweight, not because it gave Pacquiao a belt.
4. Pound-for-pound status is decided by a fighter’s achievements and abilities, not other factors, such as how popular he is or how exciting he is. Sometimes, fans of Pacquiao will say Pacquiao is better than another fighter because he is more exciting than him, or because he draws bigger crowds than him. Pacquiao is better than any other fighter in the sport right now, but it has nothing to do with that.
What really matters is fighting and beating top competition. There have been a lot of fighters over history who are boring, but good. There have been a lot of fighters over time who were very good, but didn’t have very many fans. Pacquiao is wonderfully exciting and popular. Pacquiao is an excellent, elite, pound-for-pound fighter. There is no correlation between those two sentences.
Ex.: For a time, heavyweight Butterbean was one of the most popular attractions in the sport, and it was because he excited crowds with his knockouts. But a 52-year-old Larry Holmes beat him. Butterbean was exciting and popular, but he was not a pound-for-pound fighter at all.
5. The quality of a win is directly related to the excellence of the fighter beaten at the time he is beaten, not what his age is or other factors. When Pacquiao fans are criticizing a rival, they will occasionally point to that fighter’s advanced age or the age of opponents he beat as evidence that they are not as good as Pacquiao. But there is zero correlation between a fighter’s age and how good he is.
It actually cuts both ways. Sometimes, critics of Pacquiao will point to the advanced age of Barrera and Erik Morales when Pacquiao beat them. Those critics are wrong to do so. Barrera and Morales were considered two of the 10 best fighters around when Paquiao beat them, regardless of their age. Likewise, Pacquiao fans will sometimes criticize Juan Manuel Marquez for beating older versions of Barrera and Joel Casamayor. Those Pacquiao fans are wrong to do so. But Barrera was still a top-10 pound-for-pound fighter when Marquez beat him, and Casamayor was the legitimate lightweight champion of the world. Sometimes a fighter will “age overnight” in the ring, as De La Hoya apparently did against Pacquiao, and maybe Barrera and Morales were better at an earlier age than when Pacquiao defeated them (and Barrera was obviously older when Marquez defeated him). That diminishes the wins moderately, but Pacquiao deserves significant credit for all those wins nonetheless.
Ex.: Bernard Hopkins is 44. He’s one of the three best active boxers. Whoever beats him should get all kinds of credit for it.
6. Good, even great fighters, sometimes lose and it doesn’t mean they aren’t great. Again, a lot of Pacquiao fans try to diminish his rivals by pointing out that they lost to X fighter or Y fighter that they don’t think is very good.
Even the best fighters lose sometimes. And sometimes, they lose to fighters who aren’t very good. What matters more is whether they beat good fighters more often than they don’t.
Ex.: Pacquiao once lost to Rustico Torrecampo, who was 11-4-4 at the time. Pacquiao has turned out more than all right despite that less-than-stellar defeat.
7. Fights are scored on more than just whether one boxer is knocked down. This is the most common mistake made by Pacquiao fans.
Boxing matches are scored via something called a “10 point must system.” Read up on it here. If one fighter knocks down another fighter, the downed fighter loses a point. Whoever has the most points at the end of the fight wins. So it makes absolutely no sense – none at all – to argue that Pacquiao beat Marquez twice simply because he knocked Marquez down a total of four times. The only relevant point here is this: A. Did Pacquiao knock out Marquez? And since he didn’t, B. Did he have more points at the end of the fight than Marquez?
The number of knockdowns is ONLY relevant to B.
8. Whomever you think won in Pacquiao-Marquez I and Pacquiao-Marquez II, both fights were close and no one who thought Marquez won both fights is crazy. For what it’s worth, it is also not crazy to think Pacquiao won both fights.
The important thing to know is this: Everyone who objectively viewed the Pacquiao-Marquez bouts acknowledges they were very, very close. There have been six different scorecards for their two fights, and none of them were separated by many points. My personal scorecard had Pacquiao winning the first fight and losing the second. Anyone who says something like “Marquez only won two of the 24 rounds” was not viewing the fight the way trained judges and boxing experts did – they were viewing those fights from the eyes of a Pacquiao zealot.
9. Negotiations for purse splits have more to do with which fighter is the bigger draw than which fighter is better. This issue keeps coming up because Pacquiao has threatened to pull out of a few fights unless he gets the terms he wants. The argument goes that since he’s the pound-for-pound king, he should get more money than everyone else. And being the pound-for-pound king should count for something during fight negotiations.
Pacquiao is universally considered a better fighter than Ricky Hatton. But Ricky Hatton brings more money to the fight than Pacquiao does because of the lucrative British pay-per-view market. He probably deserved more than a 50-50 split because of that. But he compromised by agreeing to a 50-50 split, and Pacquiao’s trainer and promoter both thought Pacquiao should take those terms, aware that it was a good deal for him. Pacquiao accepted a 33-67 split for revenues from his fight from De La Hoya, because De La Hoya brought more fan dollars to the fight than Pacquiao did, even though Pacquiao was considered the better fighter at the time.
10. Pacquiao is one of my favorite fighters, but that doesn’t mean I won’t criticize him sometimes.
If you don’t believe that Pacquiao is one my favorite fighters, click here. If that doesn’t convince you, go to my old blog, which I haven’t updated since January of 2008, and check out the right hand column that lists my favorite fighters at the time.
I don’t criticize Pacquiao because I am a “hater.” When I criticize him, it is because I think he deserves it. Marquez is also one of my favorite fighters, but here are a few things I’ve criticized him for in the past year, either in the comments section or in blog posts: implying last weekend that there was something wrong with Juan Diaz being “50% American;” alleging that there was something corrupt about the decision in his second fight with Pacquiao; turning his nose up at the Pacquiao rematch and taking less money instead to fight Chris John in Indonesia. I know that Pacquiao is a source of national pride, and he should be. But I can admire a fighter and criticize him. Those two things are not incompatible. Which leads in to the next point.
11. A writer who says good things about Pacquiao is not necessarily objective; a writer who says bad things about Pacquiao is not necessarily biased.
Every time I say something critical of Pacquiao, I get told I’m “biased.” Every time I say something complimentary of Pacquiao, I get told I’m “objective.” Both assessments of me, in truth, reflect the biases of those making the assessments.
12. It’s ludicrous to go around shouting “racism” without evidence.
Too often, I’ve been called a “racist” for criticizing Pacquiao, or commenters affix fighters who attack Pacquiao with the same label. That is a very serious accusation. It should not be made without evidence. The reality of it is that if I had something against Asian/Filipino people, I would not consider Pacquiao one of my favorite fighters. I also consider Nonito Donaire one of my favorites. Nor do I harbor ill will against any other race. My list of favorite fighters includes Asian, black, white and Hispanic fighters. I know from my many discussions that many Filipinos have experienced racism in their lives, and reflexively suspect racism in any criticism of its people. But that conclusion should never be jumped to during a discussion of boxing without evidence. False allegations of racism can actually foster hostility toward the accusers, which relates to point #13.
13. Calling people “faggot” says more about you than it does about the person you’re criticizing.
Even if you have some kind of religious objection to homosexuality, there is no justification for using the words “gay” or “faggot” as slurs. All it does is establish the person who uses the term as a bigot. Which leads into the next point.
14. Generally speaking, name calling and death threats immediately undermine the credibility of your arguments, and reflects poorly upon Pacquiao fans overall.
When you call someone else a name in an argument, it often betrays the fact that you don’t have a good argument. Otherwise, you would just make a good argument and let that argument stand for itself. When you threaten to kill someone during an argument, your comment will be deleted immediately. I tolerate a lot of things here for the sake of trying to have reasonable and free discussions, but I won’t tolerate threats of violence. All of these tactics – used repeatedly and commonly on this site and others – reflects poorly on the entirety of Pacquiao fans, who have a reputation among many boxing writers for being unpleasant. It doesn’t help Pacquiao, it doesn’t help you, and it certainly doesn’t help Pacquiao fans who are reasonable and have done nothing wrong.
15. For the record, I’m not gay.
Not that it means anything. Also, please note #13 and #14.
16. Bloggers are under no obligation to be objective.
This is another common mistake made by Pacquiao fans. This is a boxing blog. The key word there is “blog.” If it was a boxing “newspaper,” or a boxing “news site,” then I might have an obligation to be objective. I might write objective news stories for other publications, and I may conduct interviews with boxers for this blog, but I am under no obligation to be objective at The Queensberry Rules. In fact, most blogs do have strong opinions. I will express those opinions here whether anyone else likes them or not. It makes no sense to accuse me of “bias.” There is nowhere that I have promised to be unbiased on this site.
17. One can write about boxers without having ever boxed.
I’ve covered this extensively here. The short version: Consider applying this standard to any other profession. Can an anthropologist study then write a paper about a native tribe if he or she isn’t a member of that tribe? The answer is, “Of course.”
18. I don’t write things just to incite Pacquiao fans and get traffic.
I write what I write because it’s what I want to write, and for no other reason at all. I know very well that when I write about Pacquiao, I get an increase in my traffic. But it often comes with a corresponding increase in the amount of negativity I have to endure that day. I’m a big boy; I can handle negativity. But if I wrote something solely to get a rise out of Pacquiao fans, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble. I very much welcome Pacquiao fans who are passionate in supporting Pacquiao but support him without being nasty or insulting. I even welcome Pacquiao fans who are nasty and insulting in hopes that I will get through to them about the way their behavior reflects poorly on them. But if inciting Pacquiao fans was my goal, I would just routinely write daily items attacking Pacquiao. I don’t do that. Why, some days, I don’t even mention Pacquiao’s
name at all.
19. Quantity of opinion does not determine the truth.
Frequently in the midst of an all-out Pacfan assault on this site, someone will make the comment, “See how wrong you are, Starks? All of these people should convince you that you are not right!” Not so. 100 Pacquiao fans telling me one day that I’m wrong about something doesn’t make me wrong about it. It just means that 100 Pacquiao fans read my blog entry that day and disagreed. It’s possible 1,000 non-Pacquiao fans merely happened not to read my post that day, and had they, they would have outnumbered the Pacquiao fans 10-1. And even then, the number of people who hold an opinion doesn’t have any bearing on the validity of that opinion. Millions of people like Larry the Cable Guy.
20. I’m allowed to respond to attacks on me on my site in any way I see fit.
On occasion, someone will say there’s something wrong about me responding to the comments of Pacquiao fans who criticize me. My attitude is this: It’s my site, and if you want to attack me on it, you should probably expect me to defend myself. 99.9 percent of the time I will do so patiently and politely, even. But if you don’t want me to respond to what you want to say to me, don’t say it. And if you think I’m wasting my time by responding, you are under no obligation to read my responses.