By Mark Elezaj
Who is Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao? Well, for starters, he is a Filipino professional boxer with a record of 62-7-2 with 39 knockouts, as well as a politician who is currently serving as senator of the Philippines.
Did that catch your attention? If not, there’s so much more!
Manny Pacquiao is the only eight-division world champion in boxing history. He has won twelve major world titles. He was the first boxer to win the “lineal championship” in five different weight classes.
Pacquiao is also the first boxer in history to win major world titles in the flyweight, featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisions.
Pacquiao was named “Fighter of the Decade” by the Boxing Writers Association of America, WBC, and WBO.
He is also a three-time Ring magazine Fighter of the Year, winning the award in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
He won the Best Fighter ESPY Award twice, in 2009 and 2011.
In 2016, ESPN ranked Pacquiao No. 2 on their list of top pound for pound boxers of the past 25 years, and he is currently ranked No. 4 in BoxRec’s ranking of the greatest pound for pound boxers of all time.
Manny Pacquiao started boxing at the age of 14. As an amateur, he had a record of 60-4. He then went on to turn professional when he was only 16 years old.
“When I was younger, I became a fighter because I had to survive. I had nothing. I had no one to depend on except myself. I realized that boxing was something I was good at, and I trained hard so that I could keep myself and my family alive.”
His professional debut was a four-round fight against Edmund “Enting” Ignacio, on January 22, 1995. He came into the fight weighing 106 pounds, and winning via unanimous decision.
After moving up from light flyweight to Super Bantamweight, Pacquiao finally got the big break he was looking for on June 23, 2001.
A Star Is Born
He stepped in as a late replacement, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada, following two weeks notice, against IBF Super Bantamweight title holder Lehlohonolo Ledwaba. Pacquiao won the fight by technical knockout, winning his second major boxing world title.
Pacquiao went on to defend the title four times before moving up to featherweight.
On November 15, 2003, Pacquiao faced Marco Antonio Barrera at the Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas. Pacquiao stopped Barrera via technical knockout in the eleventh round, winning The Ring and lineal featherweight championships.
With his victory, he became the first Filipino and Asian to become a three-division world champion, a fighter who won world titles in three different weight divisions. He defended the title twice and relinquished it in 2005.
Six months after the Barrera fight, Pacquiao went on to face Juan Manuel Márquez, who was the WBA and IBF Featherweight champion at the time. The fight took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, on May 8, 2004.
In the first round, Márquez was knocked down three times, but weathered the storm with his counterpunch style. At the end of a very close fight, both boxers felt they had done enough to win the fight, the fans witnessed an instant classic and the judges scored the fight a draw.
Pacquiao moved up to super featherweight to fight three-division world champion Érik Morales for the vacant WBC International and vacant IBA Super Featherweight title.
The fight took place at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Pacquiao lost the fight by unanimous decision, all three scorecards were 115–113 in favor of Morales.
Pacquiao met Morales in a rematch on January 21, 2006 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
During the fight, Morales was knocked down twice, once in the second round and once in the sixth. Pacquiao’s relentless style was too much and he stopped Morales in the tenth with a TKO. This was the first time Morales was stopped in his boxing career.
Pacquiao fought Morales a third time on November 18, 2006. Pacquiao proved to be too much again, stopping Morales via a third-round knockout.
Over the course of his legendary career, Pacquiao was involved in many historic fights against the likes of Márquez, Hatton, Delahoya and Cotto.
He has faced more than 20 world champions.
Chatchai Sasakul, Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, Jorge Eliécer Julio, Marco Antonio Barrera, Érik Morales, Óscar Larios, Jorge Solís, Juan Manuel Márquez, David Díaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Brandon Ríos, Timothy Bradley, Chris Algieri, Jessie Vargas, Floyd Mayweather, Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner and most recently, Keith Thurman.
This past Saturday night, Pacquiao won the WBA (Super) welterweight title with his victory over Keith Thurman. With this latest accomplishment, Pacquiao has become the Oldest Welterweight Super World Champion in Boxing History, at the age of 40.
He is a once in a lifetime fighter, plain and simple. He is a legend! He has boxed professionally for 24 years with 71 pro fights, winning 62 of them. He is an Eight-weight world champion. He won a world title in his teens, 20s, 30s and 40s. He was the “Lineal Champion” in five different weight classes. His career is defined! So why keep fighting?
When he was asked after the Thurman fight when he would retire, he answered as only he could,
“Your question is when am I going to retire,” Pacquiao said, reframing the question to fit his needs. “I can still fight. I can give a good fight and entertain the fans. The ability I have is not my own. God gave me this ability to continue. I believe I am here to inspire the fans and be a role model to everyone as a follower of God the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Manny Pacquiao is one of those rare guys who comes along once every generation. A throwback fighter if you will. Eventually, Pacquiao will walk away from the sport, it’s just a matter of when?
He has a true love for the sport and for his fans.
“Every fight I have, my main concern is, I don’t want to disappoint my fans with my performance,” Pacquiao said. “That’s why every training camp, I always punish myself.”
A family man, a religious man, a proud man, one who puts the hearts of his people first. Pacquiao is a true hero! He continues to help the people of the Philippines by providing food, building homes, schools and hospitals for the poor. He fights so that they don’t.
Watching him come up the ranks, you knew you were watching something amazing. He has fought everyone, never said no to a fight and always gave 100%, win, lose or draw.
Even today, at 40 years old, he remains a quicker and stronger opponent against almost everyone he faces.
If he continues to fight like he did on Saturday, there aren’t many challengers who can compete with him.
“I just want to maintain my name in the top of boxing and continue my career,” Pacquiao said. “I already accomplished what I want to accomplish in boxing. I’m continuing my career because boxing is my passion. I have lots to do in this, especially because God gave me these blessings and favor that they gave me good health and this is speed and power.”
We will miss Manny Pacquiao when he decides to hang them up. His heart and dedication to the sport is what made us love him.
Thank you Manny! Thank You…
~ The Fighting Voice ~