Reports of Manny Pacquiao’s resurrection are greatly exaggerated

I was right in my prediction for the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley fight last night. This is the second time Pacquiao has done it, but the last time two of the judges outrageously gave the decision to Bradley.

This Guardian article, along with several others I’ve read, trumpets that Pacquiao has returned to “vintage form.” But he hasn’t. His steady decline is continuing.

Pacquiao was once a fearsome puncher. Punching power is the last thing a fighter loses with age. But Pacquaio hasn’t stopped any opponent since he gave Miguel Cotto a horrifying beating in 2009 (that fight went almost 12 rounds, but should have been stopped in the first third). All but one of the eight fights he’s had since then - against opponents of varying quality - have gone the distance. The exception was when Juan Manuel Marquez knocked him out in the sixth round.

Pacquiao was a great fighter. Bradley is a good fighter, but no more than that, and he’s a light puncher; only 12 of his 31 wins have been inside the distance. Once upon a time, Pacquiao would have walked through him. He has twice been unable to put him away.

It was good to see Pacquiao win this fight, especially after being robbed in his last encounter with Bradley, but to call it a return to form is wishful, almost magical, thinking. In actuality, Pacquiao is washed up, and ought to retire, or, if his ego doesn’t allow that, to keep fighting run-of-the-mill opponents. Another fight with Marquez would be a bad idea, and a fight with Floyd Mayweather would be a dreadful one. I think Pacquiao at his best would have beaten Mayweather, and I think Mayweather thinks so too, which is why he’s been ducking Pacquaio for years. But the Pacquiao who fought last night could reasonably hope for little more than not to get badly hurt by an on-form Mayweather.

'Four days later, Crowley was coming out of Evangelo’s, a bar just down the street from the Plaza in Santa Fe. The first thing he realized was that someone was sitting on his Harley. The second thing he realized was that it was the Kid.

“You know something? Some little bastards just can’t be told,” Crowley said.

“Nice bike,” said the Kid.

“Get your brown ass off of it.”

The Kid obeyed. Then he reached into his jacket and pulled out a Bulldog 44. He pointed it at Crowley.

Crowley cackled. “New toy, huh?”

“Yeah. Just got it.”

“You know how to use it?”

“Not really. But it holds five rounds. I don’t think I can miss you with all of them.”

“That what you’re gonna do, shoot me? Right here in the street, in front of people?”

“Yeah.”

“Better go ahead, then.”’

TOM MCGRATH AT 26

In this fascinating 1967 documentary about the counterculture in London, the Scotsman interviewed is my friend Tom McGrath, who was editor of International Times, a.k.a. I.T.

It’s a strange feeling for me to watch and listen to the 26-year-old Tom. I didn’t meet him until 1988, by which time a lot of hard living (including heroin addiction) had left him bearing no physical resemblance to the man in the film. His voice, however, was unchanged.

What George Orwell thinks we peasants should be reading

I’ve been rereading some of Orwell’s essays. When I was young I went from near-worship of Orwell to starting to see his flaws. When I read him nowadays, it seems as though all I see are the flaws… and yet I love him as much as I ever did.

I was struck by his classism in the essay "Raffles and Miss Blandish."

Arguing that hard-boiled, morally-ambivalent fiction is fascistic, Orwell claims: 

People worship power in the form in which they are able to understand it. A twelve-year-old boy worships Jack Dempsey. An adolescent in a Glasgow slum worships Al Capone. An aspiring pupil at a business college worships Lord Nuffield. A New Statesman reader worships Stalin.

As someone who comes from a Glasgow slum, I laugh sadly when I read this. Here is what Orwell doesn’t understand: In the same way that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, powerlessness also corrupts, and absolute powerlessness corrupts absolutely.

Orwell concludes the essay by praising, in so many words, snobbishness and hypocrisy. He shows his own snobbishness in his view that, while it’s good and proper for “serious” fiction to be morally ambivalent, “popular” fiction should be morally black and white, presumably so that we barbarians from Glasgow slums won’t become fascists.

"In America we love to kill people. Sometimes it is legal, more often it is not. But, legal or not, the killing is steady. Sometimes it is in self-defense, sometimes it is in a frenzy of rage or fear, and sometimes it is premeditated, planned for hours and days and months in advance.  

I’ve watched two killings.  I’ve looked in the men’s faces as they died. And many of the other killings happen near me.”