Quijano: Manny still a physical marvel at 43

Yesterday, the Dean of Sporswriters Quinito Henson (my idol) posted in his Twitter account a picture of Manny’s post weigh-in meal.

I could make out vegetable soup, beef kebabs, ginisang ampalaya, boiled eggs and a plateful of rice in front of him.

Westerners are always amazed by the volume of rice we Pinoys can consume, but in Manny’s case, this being his recovery meal after trying to make weight, I can’t blame him for trying to load up.

MANNY. At age 43, Manny is truly a physical marvel. His ring victories aside, it’s not easy to be in tip-top shape when you reach middle age, let alone fight at an elite championship level.

He weighed in at 146 lbs yesterday and appeared ready and relaxed. His body isn’t as ripped as before and the striations on his body reveal lesser musculature but that’s normal at that age.

Very few fighters have achieved success on top of the ring when they reached their 40s. The most prominent examples that come to mind are George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins.

Hopkins even fought after he turned 50. I was ringside at his last fight back in 2016 at the Forum in Inglewood, California when Joe Smith knocked him out of the ring, ending the fight and his career.

God forbid anything like that should happen to Manny today and I foresee him winning via unanimous decision.

UGAS. In Quinito’s well-written article yesterday in the Philippine Star, Manny’s opponent Yordenis Ugas has proclaimed that Manny won’t be able to knock him out.

I will agree as I predict a victory via the judges’ verdict for Manny but every time a fighter doesn’t see himself as a winner and opts instead to pontificate about being able to avoid a knockout loss, I am disheartened.

Much like Guillermo Rigondeaux last week who was reduced to proclaiming that nobody can knock him out, his compatriot Ugas seems to be content with surviving until the final bell.

That’s disappointing because fans want to see an action-packed fight every time Pacquiao enters the ring.

Ugas is a clever technician, who doesn’t pack too much pop in his gloves as shown by his record of 26-4, 12KOs.

Manny traditionally has problems with opponents who possess a hybrid combo of speed and power. Think Juan Manuel Marquez and Floyd Mayweather Jr. The hand speed keeps things competitive and the power deters Manny from just walking through his opponents.

Ugas’ lack of power will embolden Manny to be more aggressive than usual, and because the latter will be the faster fighter, I expect Manny to be pretty much in control throughout the fight.

Of course we know anything can happen inside the ring and at anytime, any fighter can grow old overnight especially when you consider Manny has been quite inactive the past few years. But Ugas’ reticence about achieving victory doesn’t seem to augur well for that exciting fight we are all pining for.

LAST ROUND. It’s on Jhoren Macion who recently celebrated her birthday. Welcome back and Cheers!