After watching UFC 97 last Saturday, I'm stunned that some people consider middleweight champion Anderson Silva to be the best pound-for-pound "fighter" in the world. Although he's supposed to be the face of mixed martial arts, his dull performance against top contender Thales Leites would not suggest that. The crowd in attendance, who expected to get their money's worth, repeatedly booed his frustrating attempts to provoke his challenger into fighting as he lowered his guard, danced, mocked and cracked his rival without retribution. In fact, UFC President Dana White admitted to being utterly embarrassed at Silva's latest defense of the title, apologizing to the public for the performance. As an admitted diehard boxing fan, it's annoying to see the damage that Silva is doing to his own reputation as well as the mythical ranking of being the best pound-for-pound, which he shares with his boxing counterpart Manny Pacquiao. Unlike Silva, Pacquiao truly embodies the attributes that a pound-for-pound king should have.
Considering that Silva, on occassion, has trained at Wildcard Gym with world-class trainer Freddie Roach, perhaps he should take notes from Roach's star pupil and get back some of those qualities that made him the best fighter in his own sport that everyone wants to watch. Manny Pacquiao is a monster who always gives the fans what they pay for: drama, excitement and highlight reel knockouts. None of his fights lack any of those three factors and that's why you'll never see his promoter apologizing or fans complaining about his style of fighting.
In his own right, Manny Pacquiao is the real king of war; truly the best pound-for-pound "fighter" in the world and in both sports. Even before he became a bona fide superstar, he's never had a boring fight. Every time Pacquiao fights, you're practically guaranteed to see see blood or a knockout. Unselfish, he transcends the sport as he fights for the fans in hopes that the world will stop and appreciate what he is doing inside the ring. If there was ever a true symbolization of what it means to be the best, Manny Pacquiao is it. There is no one out there that can match his overall status and appeal to all of us fans. He's the reason why boxing is still the most electrifying and exciting combat sport right now.
Anderson Silva should take notes from Manny Pacquiao if he hopes to continue to be the pound-for-pound king in his own sport. What really matters the most is not how you win the fight, but how hordes of fans cheer deafeningly for you as you win it. Being the best and unbeatable just simply isn't enough. What fans are looking for is action, real action, and lots of it. While Manny Pacquiao and Anderson Silva are both clearly at the top of their respective sports, only one of those fighters truly embodies every quality that a fan is looking for when it comes to being the best. Manny Pacquiao, not Anderson Silva, is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world!
"Boxing is the ultimate challenge. There's nothing that can compare to testing yourself the way you do every time you step in the ring." -Sugar Ray Leonard
[Editor's Note: Huwebes Fernandez is a former amateur boxer and a recent graduate of Centro Escolar University (CEU) Mendiola, Manila, Philippines with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He also writes regularly at bleacherreport.com, diamondboxing.com, teampilipinas.info and pacfans-corner.com's online magazine called "Pacfans Know".]