Pacquiao Watch: Donaire’s lead
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Pacquiao Watch: Donaire’s lead

Nonito Donaire again struggled to find his rhythm before catching Armenian Vic Darchinyan with his patented left hook in the 9th round to earn a hard earned TKO victory, seven months after losing a unanimous decision to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Donaire, shaking off the long layoff with which he had a surgery for his injured shoulder, was behind on points in the scorecards of two judges (one called the fight even) before the fight was stopped by Referee Laurence Cole.

It was a smashing comeback for Donaire, who is said to have been contemplating on retirement even before his loss to Rigondeaux.

Donaire’s indomitable spirit carried him to his 21st KO victory in 34 professional fights. He only lost twice in his 12-year professional career.

Two weeks from now, it will be Manny Pacquiao’s turn to turn a leaf from his dismal performance in 2012 when, for the first time, he lost two consecutive fights.  Many of course will argue the loss to Timothy Bradley was one of the highway stickups in boxing.  But the KO loss to perennial nemesis was one enduring image of Pacquiao’s vulnerability as he treks the road that all boxers eventually have to negotiate – ending his boxing career.

Pacquiao could have easily turned his back from boxing as early as 2010 when he won a seat in the Philippine House of Representatives.

But like, Donaire, Pacquiao sees himself as a man with a mission.

The losses last year have only driven Pacquiao to redeem himself and fulfill a dream of going out a champion.

On November 24, Pacquiao faces Brandon Rios in Macau for his own comeback bid.

He is coming off from the longest layoff in his boxing career, a period of more than 11 months.

Many are curious and interested how Manny will shake off the demons of his KO loss to Marquez and prove he still has what it takes to regain his lofty ranking in the pound for pound list.

Team Pacquiao has adopted a hermit-like training for his comeback bid.  They are totally sealing off his Wild Card Gym in General Santos City a week before breaking camp to fly to Macau next week.

In the far and in between occasions that I was able to observe Pacquiao train, I do not think he ever lost a step as a fearsome two-fisted demolition man.

I believe he is enjoying the boot camp in General Santos City, the first time he is exclusively doing so in his professional career.  He has rid himself of the many distractions that have followed him in the past.  One close aide said they have trimmed down the pastors that have been surrounding him since early last year when he began his religious crusade.  His residence has also been declared off limits to many political allies, hangers on, freeloaders, including some member of the local press – even firing one self-proclaimed press relations officer.

In short, it is all concentration for Pacquiao.

Except that his long time lawyer Franklin Gacal Jr may not be able to watch in the ringside when he faces Rios.  He will surely miss Gacal’s presence if the latter could not make it to the fight.

But more than anything, it will be more psychological battle for Pacquiao.  Hunger and motivation will be the overriding theme when he steps into the apron of the square ring.

Like Donaire, Pacquiao will have moments of indecision when the bell first rings to signal the start of his fight with Rios.  How fast Pacquiao will find his rhythm is coach Freddie Roach’s job to oversee.Roach has already stated that Pacquiao will have to win decisively or forget about boxing.

That itself is the biggest motivation.

Like Donarie, Pacquiao has to end the fight with a bright note.

And the only way to do it is Pacquiao’s way.  Stop Rios.