Sometimes in life it takes people a little while to win you over.
Such was the case with world class trainer and former two time champion John David Jackson concerning Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao. When Pacquiao was in the lower weights Jackson concedes that he didn’t think as highly of the multi-division champion and questioned his selection of opponents over the years.
In a Boxing Scene interview with Brett Matteo Alderson from April of this year, the low key trainer questioned whether or not Pacquiao had avoided certain challenges throughout his career, specifically against African American fighters in particular.
“Pacquiao never fights black fighters," Jackson would go on to state. "Name one good black fighter he's fought in the last five years. He's avoided them like the plague. If you’re pound for pound the best fighter in the world, fight everybody. You can’t be selective; you have to fight the best.”
Those comments set of a wildfire amongst Pacquiao’s most ardent supporters, who questioned why Jackson was bringing race into the equation. Pacquiao’s faithful also noted that there simply weren’t that many high caliber fighters to pick and choose from for Pacquiao, who was busy fighting the world’s best such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez.
I asked Jackson about those comments weeks after the fact and the modest trainer simply pointed out that he was saying what he felt at the time. He noted that he had nothing personally against Pacquiao. It was obvious at the time that Jackson desired a Pacquiao fight for his fighter at the time, Nate Campbell, and perhaps it was easy for him to get caught up in the moment.
Fast forward roughly a half a year later and Jackson admits that he has a newfound respect for Manny Pacquiao. After devastating stoppages over Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, Jackson clearly feels we are witnessing the world’s pound for pound best fighter. Jackson was at the UIC Pavilion Saturday night in Chicago, Illinois, guiding his charge Randall Bailey to another victory and I asked him what his thoughts were on a possible Pacquiao showdown with Floyd Mayweather.
“I think it’s a great fight for boxing,” Jackson affirmed. “It definitely needs to happen. It’s a 50/50 fight. Both guys have leverage in the fight. Even though Floyd just returned he has a lot of fans and they both deserve the same amount of money. Neither fighter is bigger than the other. They are both good and it’s a fight that boxing needs. Whatever egos they have they need to put to the side and make the fight happen.”
Jackson was then posed with the question of what advantages Pacquiao would bring into the ring with him. Jackson feels that Mayweather’s layoff may end up hurting him against a fighter like Pacquiao, who has been performing at a high level as of late.
“Pacquiao has been a lot more active lately,” Jackson noted. “He’s a strong kid. I didn’t really pay as much attention to him early in his career but I’ve watched him lately and I have to give him credit, he’s pound for pound the best. He deserves it. He may have beaten some guys recently who were on their way down but that’s not his fault.”
Jackson went on to state that at the end of the day you can’t argue with what Pacquiao has accomplished because he has found a way to defeat all of his recent opponents in some form or another.
“Whoever they put in front of him he has beat and until Mayweather or somebody beats him I have to give him his just dues. He’s done what he’s supposed to do and I can’t argue with that.”
Aside from all of the Pacquiao-Mayweather talk Jackson also spoke of his stable of fighters at Contender’s gym down in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. On this night Bailey would go to win a dominant decision over Germaine Sanders, scoring three knockdowns along the way, and Jackson noted that he was gearing up for 2010.
Rumors are going around about one of Jackson’s prized fighters, Campbell, possibly locking horns with dangerous punching Kendall Holt in an IBF Jr. Welterweight eliminator. Jackson welcomes the fight but confirms nothing would come easy against the Patterson, NJ native.
“It’s a tough fight. It’s a winnable fight for Nate but you can’t take Kendall Holt lightly. He truly has shortcomings but he is dangerous for anybody.”
In closing Jackson noted that he has been talking to one of his other key charges, Super Middleweight contender Allan Green, almost daily in hopes of getting him a fight.
“Allan and I are still talking and trying to work things out. We’re looking for a fight for him soon.”