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Ring Ratings Update: Pacquiao relinquishes 140-pound title

26
Jul

Manny Pacquiao’s junior welterweight title reign started with a bang 14 months ago but it gradually fizzled out when it became evident that the Filipino dynamo would only campaign at weights above 140 pounds.

Pacquiao’s chilling second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton last May earned him THE RING’s 140-pound championship. However, he never defended the title because the bigger fights were at heavier weights

After two consecutive welterweight bouts — a 147-pound title-winning TKO of Miguel Cotto and a unanimous decision over Joshua Clottey — Pacquiao’s hold on THE RING’s junior welterweight championship ended when a fight with Antonio Margarito was made over the weekend.

Because Pacquiao’s next bout will be contested over the 140-pound limit, Pacquiao was automatically removed from the champion’s position per an agreement the pound-for-pound king had with THE RING, thus making the magazine’s junior welterweight title vacant.

The contracted weight of the Margarito fight, which will take place on Nov. 13, has yet to be set but it will likely be above the welterweight limit, at either 154 pounds or a 150-pound catch weight, with a vacant junior middleweight title on the line.

“When Manny Pacquiao signed to fight Joshua Clottey at welterweight in March, Pacquiao requested that he be allowed to keep THE RING junior welterweight championship for the time being, but agreed that if his next bout was not a defense of the 140-pound title, it would mean an automatic relinquishment of the championship,” said Nigel Collins, Editor-in-Chief of THE RING. “Obviously, Pacquiao’s upcoming bout with Antonio Margarito will not be fought at 140 pounds. Therefore, Pacquiao has, in accordance with our agreement, relinquished the title.”

Why did Pacquiao and his adviser Michael Koncz want to hold onto the junior welterweight title?

One reason is that 140 pounds was his optimum fighting weight at the time he fought Hatton. Pacquiao was fast and powerful without having to drain himself to make weight. In fact, he ate breakfast the morning of the weigh-in for the Hatton, when tipped the scales at 138 pounds.

Another reason was the hope that a worthy challenger might emerge from the deep junior welterweight talent pool.

At the time of Pacquiao’s sensational 140-pound title victory, THE RING’s Top 10 junior welterweights were as follows: Tim Bradley, Hatton, Junior Witter, Andreas Kotelnik, Paulie Malignaggi, Juan Urango, Kendall Holt, Ricardo Torres, Herman Ngoudjo and Marcos Maidana.

All 10 were solid fighters, but aside from Hatton, who “the PacMan” had just gobbled up, none had the kind of name recognition and accomplishments that could earn a high-profile showdown with the newly crowned junior welterweight champ.

So Pacquiao, who had retired Oscar De La Hoya in a welterweight bout six months before he annihilated Hatton, ventured back to the 147-pound division, where big names (Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley), history (seven titles in seven weight classes) and lots of money awaited.

And if Pacquiao’s promoter and trainer have anything to say about it, welterweight (and heavier) is where he’ll stay.

Bob Arum’s reasons are blatantly self-serving. None of the current 140-pound standouts fight under his Top Rank banner (as Cotto, Clottey and Margarito do).

Freddie Roach’s reasons have more to do with his fighter’s growing body.

Pacquiao’s last two welterweight bouts — and the high-calorie, high-protein diets that were integral parts of the camps for those fights — have added enough muscle to the Filipino icon’s 5-foot-7 frame that making 140 pounds is no longer a piece of cake.

“It was special for Manny to win the 140-pound title from Hatton, but I prefer that he fight at welterweight from now on,” Roach told RingTV.com. “I like him at welterweight because he makes 147 comfortably, with no struggle at all. He can eat breakfast and lunch the day of the weigh-in and still make 147 easily.

“Making 140 pounds now would be a struggle. He would have to miss meals the final weeks of camp and when he does that, he’s not happy. He gets really grumpy, like most fighters who struggle to make weight, and he’s not as easy to train. I like it when Manny is happy. I think we’ve proven that he fights better when he’s happy, when he’s comfortable.”

Pacquiao’s relinquishment of THE RING’s 140-pound title is probably for the best. While Pacquiao was the champ, he was not only the focus of all the junior welterweight young guns, but a distraction from key bouts being made in the division.

Now that the title is vacant, the top contenders have something attainable to aim for and another reason to face each other in the ring.

“Although it sometimes takes time, THE RING feels that relying on champions to do the correct thing is far better than stripping them of the championship won in the ring,” said Collins. “In fact, since THE RING’s current championship policy was launched in 2002, no RING champion has failed to do the honorable thing when asked to voluntarily give up the title. Now that Pacquiao has officially abdicated, the road is clear for the No. 1 contender, Timothy Bradley, to fight the No. 2 contender, currently Devon Alexander, for the vacant title.”

RING RATINGS UPDATE:

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS:

Previously unbeaten Viacheslav Uzelkov (No. 6 last week) exits following his 12-round decision loss to Beibut Shumenov, who enters at No. 8. Uzelkov’s departure also bumps up Adrian Diaconu (No. 7 last week) and Karo Murat (No. 8 last week) one spot each, respectively.

JUNIOR FLYWEIGHTS:

Ramon Hirales replaces Johnriel Casimero at No. 10 following Hirales’ 12-round decision over Casimero.