The competition in Boxing is so high that to most prizefighters being a contender to the world title is already an achievement in itself. Some even retire contented with that attainment for the rest of their lives. So when a boxer is given a rare second chance to get a crack at the title after a failed first attempt common sense would tell any follower of the sport that vital lessons must have already been learned from the first time around and that necessary adjustments in approach and measures have already been effected. When Manny Pacquiao’s adviser, Michael Koncz, arrived in Puerto Rico he said sternly that nobody gave them a chance to win. To most observers it seemed like something indeed was revving up behind those words and to see Bernabe Concepcion looking so confident and relaxed coming into the arena and up in the ring when the ring announcer echoed his name that must have hyped up the crowd, supporter or opposition, ‘cause it always feels good to watch a live fight, if you looked at it at that angle you would have expected something different; that maybe a secret fight plan was about to be unveiled to shock the world. In fact, it was Lopez who looked more tense and eager to get down to business, sweating all over like he was the challenger to Concepcion's title while the latter was all smiles.
Whatever made the challenger to the world title, Bernabe Concepcion, look so confident coming into this fight I have to wonder. Right now, I’m sure a lot of fans are puzzled too. Whatever it was, a sound game plan did not seem to be one of it. Right at the very outset Concepcion seemed his old self as if you were watching a continuation of his previous fights. He came in moving forward flatfooted as I said he would in my pre-fight article, looking for a brawl. He was one dimensional right from the start and instead of tactically avoiding the power which Lopez is infamous for to his opponents and which has made him the boxer he is today, Concepcion kept coming forward to meet the storm, and stormy it became indeed as he was staggered almost instantly as they mixed it up in the middle of the ring. One has to say that should have been the cue to stay away and change technique. Yet instead of making adjustments to an obviously wrong approach he decided once more to go at it, moving forward once again, marching into the Lopez maelstrom as if he was sucked into it and got pummeled again so badly to nobody's surprise, yet this time he was not merely dazed but knocked down. You had to wonder what was going through his mind at that very moment with both his knees and gloves touching the canvas. Unfortunately, my predictions were gradually becoming a reality and the only surprise in this whole showdown was how Bernabe managed, probably out of survival instinct, to floor Juan Manuel with one hook to the head to end the first round. Impressive power for Concepcion, I give him that.
If a cue is what you need to come in or out, to go on offense or veer away, or, make any modifications to your overall game plan, that hook must have been Concepcion's telling sign. Since the second round started, after he blasted Lopez down to the canvas it seemed like all he had in mind for a plan was to land that one-punch wonder, hoping an all powerful punch would make a repeat of taking down the dynamic Lopez, who already appeared to have fully recovered from the first round knockdown. I remain befuddled greatly up to this hour by what Buboy, a protégé of four-time Trainer of the Year awardee, Freddie Roach had to say after that awful first round to motivate his ward 'cause the second turned out even worse. What makes it worse, you see, is when you know you've been doing something wrong, you know for a fact that something's amiss in your strategy and yet you continue to do it, and this time he kept marching forward still, looking for that one punch to knock the Puerto Rican out. He was impatient as I expected him to be. At one point into the second round I had to cover my face with my hands in exasperation as he kept throwing desperate wallops which were so wide it could have been as wide as my grandfather's antique table from World War II. And like that Great War, the rest of the second round for Concepcion was history.
Juan Manuel's power is no secret. In fact, that has always been the trademark of all his fights and this offensive weapon has elevated him to the boxer he is today. No, it's not skill or killer hand speed or ring savvy. There is no doubt whatsoever in everyone's mind that punching power separates this man from his peers. So don't start by saying he was the stronger man in the ring today. We know that. We just came in with the wrong, if not elementary, one dimensional strategy, or was it probably just a bad execution of a good impending fight plan. And while Pinoy boxer Bernabe Concepcion is still 22 years young, his boxing career hangs in the balance on how he learns from his mistakes and his ability to adapt to adversity.