Name: Manny Pacquiao
Nickname: Pac Man
Born: December 17, 1978
From: General Santos City, Philippines
Weight Class: Flyweight-Welterweight
Professional Record: 51 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws, and 38 knockouts
During a time when boxing has struggled to provide compelling superstars that transcend the game, Manny Pacquiao has filled the void and become a savior of the sport. He came along at precisely the right time. His resume, spanning 9 divisions, is difficult to ignore and his popularity in his native Philippines might surpass the national stardom of any fighter in the history of the sport.
Early Life and Career
Pacquiao grew up very poor, which caused him to drop out of school and live on the streets for a spell. His parents split up when he was young. His mother could barely provide, causing Manny to fend for himself from a young age. As a teenager, his boxing prowess earned him a spot on the national team, bringing some relief in the form of room and board.
At 16, Manny turned pro. Having never had a proper diet, Manny barely weighed over 100 pounds and was far from the robust fighter he would later become. His talent, however was unmistakable. Fast, hungry, and a slashing puncher, he was a popular attraction in the small shows where he was regularly featured. He streaked off to an 11-0 record in just over a year.
Barely 17, Pacquiao was upset in the 3rd round by tough Rustico Torrecampo. He rebounded quickly, putting together an 8-bout knockout streak that culminated with a stoppage over 34-2 Chockchai Chockvivat for the OBPF Flyweight Title. Three fights later, Pacquiao would receive his first world title opportunity.
Mannys First Title
Pacquiao, only 19, challenged linear and WBC Flyweight Champion Chatchai Sasakul in 1998. Sasakul, 33-1, had dethroned dominant champion Yuri Arbachakov for the belt. The teenaged Pacquiao romped to an 8th-round knockout.
His reign wouldnt last long. Facing weight making issues and still an unfinished fighter, he was stopped on a bodyshot in the 3rd round by undefeated challenger Medgoen Singsurat.
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Mannys Super Bantamweight Years
From 1999-2003, Pacquiao, now beefed up to 122 pounds, enjoyed a very productive period. He was undefeated at this weight, with none of his fights going the distance. He was in tough fights, developing his well roundedness while gaining valuable world-class experience. After some taxing tests, he was matched against IBF champion Lehlo Ledwabaa classy titlist who at 33-1-1 was considered the best in the world at 122 pounds. Manny, fighting as an underdog, dominated en route to a 6th-round TKO. After a tough technical draw with Agapito Sanchez, Pacquiao knocked out his next 4 opponents setting up a challenge with famed Marco Antonio Barrera.
Third World Title
While no longer recognized as a champion by the sanctioning bodies, Marco Antonio Barrera was every bit Featherweight Champion of the World, credentials that were established with wins over champions Naseem Hamed and Erik Morales. He was favored to beat Pacquiao, but never got untracked. Pacquiao hammered him relentlessly, dominating the legendary champion in startling fashion. The fight was stopped in the 11th round, after Barrera had absorbed a horrific beating. Pacquiao, considered merely a good champion, was catapulted into a new level with this milestone victory.
In his next match, Pacquiao would meet the excellent Juan Manuel Marqueza long neglected fighter looking to make his mark. It seemed a mismatch in the first round, as Pacquiao slammed Marquez with his sizzling straight southpaw left, leading to 3 knockdowns. Marquez amazingly recovered from that near-disaster and outboxed Pacquiao for long stretches of the fight. Pacquiao had his moments too and after 12 exciting rounds, the fight was ruled a draw. After getting well with a knockout win, Pacquiao dropped a close decision to the 47-2 Morales, in that great champions last great performance in March of 2005 and Mannys first fight at 130 pounds. It seemed as if Pacquiao had flattened out a bit.
Getting Back on Track
After a 6th round stoppage of Hector Velasquez, Manny exacted revenge on Erik Morales via brutal 10th-round TKO. After beating ex-champ Oscar Larios, Pacquiao and Morales fought a rubber match in November 2006a lopsided wipeout won by Pacquiao by 3rd-round stoppage. His business with Morales had been settled.
After a stoppage of undefeated Jorge Solis, Pacquiao gave Barrera a rematch, winning a unanimous decision. Now it was time for Pacquiao to complete his unfinished business with Juan Manuel Marquezthe same fighter who managed a draw against Pacman in their first fight. Again, Pacquiao was unable to establish clear-cut superiority, but did enough to eke out a deserved split decision and the WBC 130-pound title.
By March of 2008, Pacquiao was four-division championone of the top few fighters in the sport. With about a decade at the world-class level, it was assumed this was the final version of Pacquiao we would see. He was a dynamic offensive force with a killer left hand wielded with concussive impact from the southpaw stance.
Then something amazing happened. At a time when most long-serving champions begin to flatten out, Pacquiao escalated his game significantly. Beginning with his 9th-round blitzing of lightweight titlist David Diaz, Pacquiao began to show some new wrinklesan improved right hand, combined with better movement and a better understanding of angles and defense. Suddenly opponents were not finding Pacquiao as easy to hit. To top it off, Pacquiaos punch resistance appeared to improve as he added weight to his frame.
Becoming a Legitimate Boxing Megastar
With a 5th title at lightweight under his belt, Pacquiao attempted what many felt was impossible. He signed to fight legend Oscar De La Hoya at welterweight in 2008. Installed as a significant underdog, Manny was thought to be too small for the aging, but still vibrant De La Hoya. It wasnt even close. With his newfound mastery of angles, Oscar barely laid a glove on Pacquiaosuffering a major battering in the process. After 8 rounds of getting nowhere with Pacman, De La Hoya had enough. It was a landmark victory for the Filipino dynamo.
He was even more lethal against linear Junior Welterweight Champion Ricky Hatton. Undefeated at 140 pounds, Hatton figured to give Pacquiao a stern test. In the 2nd round, a sizzling left crashed on the chin of Hattonsending him down and out. There were some anxious moments, as Hatton took a while to come to, and the Pacquiao legend grew.
In his last two fights, Pacquiao bolstered his welterweight credentials with wins over Miguel Cotto (12th-round TKO) and Joshua Clottey (unanimous decision). Fans continue to clamor for Pacquiao-Mayweather, but the fight has been scuttled twice in ugly negotiations. While Mayweather remains largely inactive and embroiled in controversy, Pacquiao continues to win, giving further credence to his status as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
Some claim Pacquiaos resume is largely built on beating fighters who were past their prime, particularly Barrera, Morales, De La Hoya, and Hatton. In addition, critics point to his inability to create any real separation in two fights with Juan Manuel Marquez. While some of his best victims were a bit past their peaks, Manny helped make them shot. Barrera and Morales were still extremely viableuntil Manny decimated them. Sure, De La Hoya was older, but this is purely 20/20 hindsight. Before the fight, he was a large betting favorite and considered far too big for Pacquiao. While one could say he has unfinished business with Marquez, it is a complete mischaracterization to call either of their two fights a robbery.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has created a bit of a firestorm about a connection between Manny Pacquiao and performance-enhancing drugs. By merely bringing it up, Mayweather has managed to create a debate about whether Pacquiaos rise to the top has been natural or not. On one hand, it was curious that the first negotiation appeared to fail due to Pacquiaos refusal to take drug tests, however, that proves nothing.
One might find it curious that the unsubstantiated claims of Pacquiaos biggest rival could manage to create an air of uncertainty around Pacquiao. In no court of law do the speculations of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. amount to more than zero. In addition, fighters trying to play the role of commissioner by calling for a certain form of drug testing is not an established precedent in boxing. Pacquiaos reluctance or even downright refusal to acquiesce to the demands of Mayweather in no way should suggest guilt. In fact, since a second negotiation failed, it appears that Mayweather is, at best, endlessly milking the situation or, at worst, scared of fighting Pacquiao, who appeared to be willing to take blood tests.
Furthermore, his most nit-picky critics question his status as a 7, soon to be 8, division champion. His upcoming bout with Margarito for the vacant 154-pound belt is not terribly legitimate, as it is fought at a catchweight of 150 against a fighter with no accomplishments at that weight. Nevertheless, the other compelling titleholder in that division is a man Pacquiao already dominatedMiguel Cotto. Vacant titles have been won from a lot worse fighters than Margarito.
Pacquiao has hardly had things easy during his unprecedented collection of titles. He beat the best fighters in the division at flyweight, junior feather, featherweight, junior lightweight, junior welterweight, and now welterweight. The only division where he didnt face the best was at lightweight, a division he fought in once. He shares a distinction only the best can claim in that there is not one fighter you can say that Pacquiao ever ducked.
Legacy and Future
Having just secured a congressional seat in the Philippines, Pacquiao now has a legitimate career in politics. Nevertheless, he still has more work to do in the ring. He next meets former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito, in a bid for a title in his 8th different division.
It sometimes takes time for boxing history to crystallize. It is largely interpretive, lacking the statistical analysis other sports enjoy. What Pacquiao has accomplished and will continue to achieve will become clearer over time. When it is all said and done, Manny Pacquiaos name will be mentioned among the true greats in the game. No fighter has ever dominated such a wide range of weight classes. He holds 8 wins over fighters who are Hall of Fame shoo-ins.