Is Pacquiao slowing down?

Have Manny's punches lost a bit of their speed?

By nature Filipinos often have almost as many differing views on issues as the number of islands that make up the archipelago.

But in the case of the horrendous split decision that robbed "Fighter of the Decade" Manny Pacquiao of his world Boxing Organization belt and gifted it to undefeated Timothy "Desert Storm" Bradley, there was hardly a dissenting voice.

This was replicated around the world with  such outstanding champions as heavyweight king Lennox Lewis, "The Golden Boy' Oscar De La Hoya, the father and uncle of Floyd Mayweather Jr.,  Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Jeff Mayweather, as well as promoters, respected media men, entertainers and simple fight fans all in agreement that it was a inexplicable, "bum decision."

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum not only requested the Nevada State Attorney General to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the decision and the fight itself but went one step further by stating that he wanted to give his take on the controversy to the attorney-general.

There were many who questioned the genuineness of Arum's twin requests, claiming that it was designed to show that he had nothing to do with what some writers have categorized as a "fix" from which he probably benefited, recalling his statement that he would make a lot of money in a rematch between Pacquiao and Bradley which had been written into the fight contract.

The World Boxing Organization which sanctioned the Pacquiao title defense also jumped into the fray with its president Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel directing the WBO Championship Committee and five selected independent judges to review the tape, score the bout and send him their scorecards and observations if any, which would be treated confidentially.

However, in the same breath Valcarcel said the judges who scored the fight — CJ Ross, Duane Ford and Jerry Roth — were competent and he didn't question their integrity.

The question that jumps to one's mind is, if the judges were competent how could they score the fight the way they did which people have, without exception, branded as horrendous? It seems to us all part of a charade aimed at quieting the angry aftermath and diverting attention away from what may have happened and what might have been.

Perhaps it would be useful as Pacquiao returns to his native Sarangani province to help his constituents some of whom lost their lives while others lost their homes from rampaging floods, to look at Pacquiao himself, certainly not in terms of whether he had anything to do with any irregularity but to assess his capabilities as a fighter who appeared to have more than one chance to drop Bradley and put him away, but couldn't.

As we cautioned some years ago, the late nights, the drinking and gambling would eventually take its toll on Pacquiao's physical condition and when the effects of abuse of a person's body and  the effects of dissipation set in, it often happens abruptly.

A careful review of the fight tape shows Pacquiao has lost a split second in terms of speed, which both Arum and trainer Freddie Roach long pointed to as a key factor in Pacquiao's arsenal which effectively accentuated his power.

"Speed kills" was what Arum pointed to before Pacquiao pulverized De La Hoya that saw him quit on his stool at the end of the seventh round.

That speed has diminished as Pacquiao nears his 34th birthday on December 17, and as we assess his diminishing assets of speed and devastating power we need to accept the reality that the passing of the summers inevitably takes its toll on even the finest, relentlessly hardworking athlete who walked through the doors of Roach's Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles in the first week of June 2001, eleven long years ago. The innumerable fights, the punches he has taken, the burdens of training and the demands on his time as a congressman, a crossover superstar, a TV personality and a caring human being not to mention his former wild and wooly ways have surely taken their toll and its time we admit it, although such an admission doesn't mitigate the high crime committed in Las Vegas last June 9.

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.