Written by Tré Berry III✍️ (Posted on 08/27/2021)
Filipino legend Emmanuel Dapridan Pacquiao, better known as 🇵🇭Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KO👊) has fought in a record 12 different divisions, and is a 13 time, record-8 division titlist, with three of those Championship winning bouts coming at the expense of 3 HOF’ers. Throughout his incredible 26 year career, he has defeated 🪙6 surefire HOF’ers, with two others on the bubble pending, so that total could rise up to eight that he has defeated, who secured boxing’s highest distinction – defeating half of those 8 on multiple occasions.
A POOR KID WITH BIG DREAMS, AND A LEGACY AS THE FIGHTER OF THE PEOPLE
Pacquiao is also the only fighter in boxings storied history to become a 5-division Lineal World Champion, and was a Lineal World Champion in 3 of the boxings original 8 divisions (Flyweight, Featherweight, Welterweight). In addition to that, he has beaten 21 fighters whom at some point in their respective careers held a legitimate world title. A winner of 20 title fights himself, Manny also became a 3 time, 2-division world titlist simultaneously ⚖️(122/126, 130/135 and 147/154).
A native of the Philippines, he grew up in an atmosphere of extreme poverty, and because of that, he was forced to drop out of school at the age of 14, and resorted to selling stolen cigarettes, so he can his family could eat to survive to see the next day. He ended up moving to Manila a couple of years later, and that is where he caught his major break, as he tried out, and made the 🥊🥊Philippine national amateur boxing team. A couple years later, he was to make his pro debut.
His professional journey began at age 16, standing at 📏4’11 and a miniscule 98 lbs., he later admitted that he stuck rocks in his pocket at the weigh-in just to make the cutoff weight for the Strawweight division (of course, that being 105 lbs.) in desperation to earn some money. His pro debut was against a young man named 🇵🇭Edmund Enting Ignacio, and Pacquiao won the 4 rounder by Unanimous Decision victory.
From that point, he never looked back. In the first year of his career, Manny Pacquiao fought virtually every month, and his fight 💰paychecks were gradually becoming more lucrative as he was establishing a name for himself inside of the ring. After experiencing a setback being knocked out by Filipino journeyman 🇵🇭Rustico Torrecampo, he got himself back on track, and worked his way up to the Flyweight division.
Manny was able to win his next 12 fights, with 10 of them coming by way of knockout. Pacquiao then got his grand opportunity at a World Title by facing 🇹🇭Chatchai Sasakul (pictured below) for his LINEAL & WBC Flyweight World Championship belts. Surprisingly, Manny took control of the fight, and landed a perfect left hand to knock out Sasakul in the 8th round, and just like that, boxing had a brand new, and promising young Champion at the tender age of 19.
After losing his WBC Flyweight title belt on the scales, and then subsequently losing to 🇹🇭Medgoen 3-K Battery (who became the new Lineal Flyweight Champion), Manny Pacquiao decided to move up three weight divisions and settle at Super-Bantamweight, in pursuit of a major fight. After Manny put together a successful string of 6 knockouts in a row at his new weight, he took on the dangerous assignment to fight feared IBF Super-Bantamweight world titlist 🇿🇦Lehlo Ledwaba on just 2 weeks notice, on foreign soil, which was to be Manny’s United States national, world televised debut. (pictures below)
THE START, AND RISE OF MANNY “PACMAN” PACQUIAO’S WORLDWIDE RECOGNITION
Ledwaba was a very solid champion, who was often avoided, even by some of the elite fighters hovering at, or around the division. He came into this contest with 5 successful defenses of his ⚫title belt. Pacquiao immediately made a grand first impression on the fans in attendance, people watching at home, and broadcasters that were on assignment, as Manny darted in and out with his (now) trademark footwork, and dazzling handspeed, throwing shots from unorthodox angles, something that Ledwada wasn’t prepared for.
Manny dominated the champion in spectacular fashion, knocking him down three times, and forcing Hall-of-Fame Referee 🕴🏽Joe Cortez to stop the fight in the 6th round. Pacquiao’s name quickly took the world by storm, and he became the talk around town with boxing pundits, many believing that they just viewed boxings newest phenom.
Pacquiao’s next bout was against WBO Super-Bantamweight Titlist 🇩🇴Agapito Sanchez in a unification bout for the IBF and WBO belts, which resulted in a technical draw, as Manny suffered a bad wound from an 💢accidental headbutt that occurred in the 2nd round, and gradually became worse by round 6, leading to the stoppage…a Unification that wasn’t.
Following the Agapito Sanchez situation, Pacquiao went on to face respected, Colombian former 2X titlist 🥉🇨🇴Jorge Eliecer Julio. Despite the once highly touted champion being a bit past his prime, Manny impressed by putting Julio away by way of 2nd round TKO, to keep the train rolling on the tracks.
STARING IN THE FACE OF A STEELY-EYED LEGEND – MANNY PACQUIAO SHOWS UP, AND SHOWS OUT ON THE GRAND STAGE
After two more fights, Manny moved up again, this time to the Featherweight division. Immediately upon his arrival to 126, he signed up to face Mexican all-time-great, and Lineal Featherweight World Champion 🇲🇽Marco Antonio Barrera at the famed 🏟️Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. In an era filled with great fighters hovering around the weight, Barrera made it clear that he was the cream of the crop, especially when considering his other great Mexican contemporaries, and due to that, he was widely recognized as a ⚓top-5 P4P fighter, some even going as far to rank him in the top-three.
The fight started with an egregious error by abysmal Referee 🕴🏻Laurence Cole, calling a KD on Pacquiao in the first round after it was clear that he tripped up under his feet, with no punch even thrown. Manny landed a very strong 💥left hand down the middle that landed on the chin in the 3rd round, to put Barrera down for only the third time of his career up to this point. Barrera, always composed, remained that way when he got up, but the speed from Pacquiao’s punches became more and more bothersome for the Champion.
Cole missed another knockdown call, this time on Barrera, ruling it a slip where he was clearly upended by a Pacquiao punch. The shocker of the fight was the difference between their handspeed, and punching power. To many peoples surprise (including my own), he dominated Marco from start to finish, knocking Barrera down again in the 11th, and securing the TKO later in the round, with Marco Antonio’s Head-Trainer 🥋Rudy Perez entering the ring, signaling for Cole to stop the fight. What a signature moment, defeating a legend, putting the ENTIRE boxing world on notice, and becoming a “3-division champion”, all in the same night.
FROM CERTAIN 1ST ROUND BLOWOUT, TO A HISTORIC RIVALRY TO BE REALIZED
Pacquiao’s next contest was the first of his great series against Mexican super-talent and WBA/IBF Featherweight titlist 🇲🇽Juan Manuel Marquez. This was fight that featured a unified titlist , going up against a man without an official alphabet belt, but with the legitimate claim as the top of the division due to his Lineal distinction – that being Pacquiao of course. In the very first round, Pacquiao was scintillating, bombarding Marquez with a barrage of punches, and his signature left hand kept finding its mark on Juan’s chin.
Marquez was knocked down 3 times in the first round, and because there was no three knockdown rule, Juan Manuel was somehow got out of the round, staggering to his feet after the 3rd knockdown, and managing to make it to the 🛎️first round bell. Slowly but surely, Marquez calmed himself down, got in control of his faculties, and started to carefully time Manny’s in and out movements, as well as clocking his tendencies.
As the middle rounds came, Marquez feverishly worked himself back into the fight relying on his counterpunching, catching Manny coming in whenever he would over-commit with the left hand, which made Manny mildly gunshy to operate in full attack mode. With a feverish finish, and Marquez holding his own, the fight was 🔗declared a draw.
I personally scored the fight 📝114-112 for Manny Pacquiao, with Juan Manuel Marquez establishing a strong command of the fight from the middle portion on, but that 📋10-6 first round was a killer. Albeit ruled a draw on the official scorecards, the fight 📈raised both of their stocks – especially for Marquez, who despite being an outstanding talent, had some bad setbacks in his career with a couple of untimely losses, and a long history of not getting the high profile matches that he needed because of that…until this match.
Just imagine…what would’ve happened, the rollout if there was actually a 3-knockdown rule in place for this bout. Marquez would’ve had yet another devastating career setback, and we wouldn’t have had the great series that we’ve had between these two rivals…but I will touch on those fights later on.
FROM A COUPLE GREAT MEXICANS, TO YET ANOTHER ONE STEPPING FORWARD – MR. PACQUIAO FINALLY MEETS HIS MATCH
Lofty aspirations apparent, Manny moved up again, this time to Super-Featherweight, and would face another Mexican all-time-great 🇲🇽Erik “El Terriblé” Morales. You could clearly see a size difference between the two, and for the first time in Morales career, you weren’t able to count his ribs as he looked to be in spectacular shape. The first round turned into a war after the first minute produced a feel-out process, until Pacquiao landed a big combination upstairs.
Morales shrugged it off, and relentlessly came at Pacquiao like a madman with a barrage of punches, pinning him to the ropes – something we were not used to seeing. Morales succeeded in getting Manny’s respect early, which enabled him to execute his “Marquez gameplan”, and having Manny second-guess about bumrushing him with abandon.
Morales stated that prior to he and Pacquiao’s bout, he went on to 📽️📼watch Pacquiao’s previous fight with Marquez a total of 8 different times, and incorporated Juan’s style plan, in accordance to his own skillset. Morales jumped out to the early lead over Pacman, keeping him at his desired range, successfully 🏌️♂️tee’ing off on the Filipino warrior, and Pacquiao’s lack of a right handed attack (at the time) was a liability in overcoming Morales’s overall execution.
During the middle rounds, Pacquiao began to establish some momentum, displaying more of a sense of urgency, and Morales slowed down just enough to start getting hit. Some violent exchanges were on display, with each combatant firing, and landing multiple, with mean intentions behind every punch. When it got to the Championship rounds, they continued to trade down the stretch, but Erik started to get the better of the exchanges with a smarter, more diverse attack, and began to re-establish control back in the fight that started to 📉dwindle, and drift away in the middle rounds.
When the 12th round came about, Morales in epic fashion turned southpaw, and traded with Manny, as if to say “I can beat you at your own game”, and they fired away relentlessly until the 🛎️final bell. I scored the fight 📋116-112 for Morales, and the judges were pretty much in agreement, as they all scored it 📋115-113 to Erik Morales via Unanimous Decision, which ultimately became the biggest victory of Erik’s career inside of the squared circle when it was all said and done.
A REMATCH, A NEW WEAPON, & PAYBACK AS HE REVERSES COURSE ON MORALES
With Pacquiao being a very left hand dominant fighter, at the time, HOF Head-Trainer 🥋Freddie Roach made it a priority for Manny after the first Morales fight to work on his right hand, and expand his arsenal to become a truly complete, 2-handed fighter. Two fights later, he would meet the aforementioned 🇲🇽Erik Morales again in a rematch thriller.
The first 5 rounds of the fight had an eerily similar feel as their first encounter, and Morales was 📌tacking on the points…however with Manny’s more potent 2-fisted attack, and his new “Manila Ice” punch (the check-right hook), he was landing more effectively, and at a higher success rate than the previous fight. Morales had an iron chin, but Erik was getting hit one too many times by someone with the speed, and the power that Manny possessed, and the tide of the fight started to shift heavily in Pac’s favor in the middle rounds.
You could tell after some time that those left hands, and chopping right hooks that Manny connected with was slowly breaking down the proud Mexican. Manny overwhelmed him in rounds 8, 9, 10, and finally broke Erik down in 🛎️round 11 for the TKO win, getting his sweet revenge over the great.
MANNY ELEVATES TO DEMOLITION MODE, FORCES ERIK TO DO THE UNTHINKABLE
Manny then stepped in against former 2-division world titlist 🇲🇽Oscar Larios, and defeated Larios by Unanimous Decision in impressive fashion. With that out the way, you had the prospects of a rubbermatch looming. With their careers beginning to go in opposite directions, Pacquiao, now in full bloom got his rubbermatch against 🇲🇽Erik Morales.
Manny looked especially fast that night, darting in and out, side-to-side, with Morales having a difficult time timing him and landing anything of significance, instead getting lit up with 🔨sledgehammer combinations over, and over again.
Pacquiao dominated with a violent onslaught that night, knocking the legend down 3 times, and forcing one of the toughest warriors of the last half-a-century to look over at his corner, to his Father/Head-Trainer 🥋Jose Morales, shake his head no, and quit the fight – a shocking development.
At this moment is where Manny Pacquiao felt like he was on ⛰️top of the world, and in the eyes of many, on top of the boxing landscape from a ⚓Pound-4-Pound perspective.
BARRERA TRIES HARD IN REMATCH, BUT PACQUIAO PROVES TO BE HIS KRYPTONITE
A rematch came next against 🇲🇽Marco Antonio Barrera – this time a weight class up at Super-Featherweight. This one was more of a 🧠thinking man’s fight, and a more methodical one than the first encounter – although there were moments of serious action sprinkled in during the rounds. One would think a methodical type of fight favors Barrera, but not so fast…this was a different Manny Pacquiao than what we were used to seeing early on, now with 🔪refined technical skills to go with his power, speed and athletic prowess.
The 4th, 5th and 6th rounds of the bout broke out into a firefight, reminiscent of the first encounter, except Barrera was more successful this time around, landing at a better clip. Pacquiao managed to hurt Marco bad towards the end of the 6th, staggering the veteran, and putting his 🖆stamp on the round. Following the aftermath, Barrera went back to sticking behind a conservative approach, and boxed with Manny, but Manny was still getting the upper hand, finding ways to split his guard, and sneaking some right hooks in behind it.
In the 11th round, Barrera was hurt bad once again, and he was beat up for lengths at a time, and in a fit of frustration, Barrera clipped him with a right hand during a clinch on the break, which seemed to severely hurt Pacquiao (something similar Barrera also did to Manny in the 9th round of their first right), and savvy veteran Referee 🕴🏽Tony Weeks penalized him a point. I’m a fan of Barrera, and respected him for his greatness, but one thing I didn’t like is that he resorted to using dirty tactics periodically in his career.
Pacquiao got back to work, and he was in cruise control the rest of the way through. Although the veteran Barrera put up a much better effort in the rematch with sound, fundamental boxing, he couldn’t quite replicate what his great Mexican counterparts 🇲🇽Juan Manuel Marquez and 🇲🇽Erik Morales were able to do, so he once again came up short against Pacquiao who by my vantage point, and the opinion of judges won a wide 12 round unanimous decision on the scorecards.
RIVALRY REVISITED – MARQUEZ AND PACQUIAO FIGHT ANOTHER CLOSE WAR
Another highly coveted rematch was next, and that would be against the WBC Super-Featherweight Champion of the World 🇲🇽Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez, which was another instant classic. The fight picked up right where it left off action wise, and Pacquiao was once again finding it difficult to deal with Marquez counterpunching. Both fighters started out active, trying to find the right range to work in, and Manny opted to box a little, darting from side-to-side, looking for openings that he could exploit.
Marquez landed a nice right hand through the middle, but Pacquiao took it well, and provided more consistent work in the first round. The 2nd round, Marquez started taking a step back every time Manny charged in with a shot, and he’d shoot a counter, with good success. He staggered Pacquiao with a strong left hook at the tail-end of a combination right before the end of the round. Juan got a little brave and traded with Manny, and he was hammered with a devastating 💥1-2 from Pacquiao in the 3rd round that put him flat on his back.
Marquez got up at the count of 5, and a fiery exchange between the two broke out right before the rounds 🛎️bell, and one of those shots wobbled Marquez against the ropes, nearly putting him down again. Round 7 was a peak moment in the fight, as both fighters fired off multiple combinations in an intense trade-off, but Marquez had the slight upper hand in the round, consistently beating Manny to the punch.
Marquez opened a 🩸cut over Pacquiao’s right eye in the 8th round, and took advantage of it. Pacquiao stunned him badly in the 10th round from a shortened left hand that was like a hook, and caught Marquez mid-combination coming forward.
There was very little separation to choose from down the stretch between the 2 elite fighters when it came to rounds, and you had a feeling of uncertainty of what the scorecards would read. In a very close, Split-Decision verdict, Manny Pacquiao became the new Lineal & WBC Super-Featherweight Champion of the World, thus becoming a Triple Crown Lineal winner, as well as winning a 🪙world title in his 4th division.
IN RARIFIED TERRITORY, THE PACMAN HITS HIS TRUE PRIME, DEVOURS FORMER OLYMPIAN DAVID DIAZ IN A BLOODBATH
Manny kept his title belts at Super-Featherweight, but after cleaning out the hierarchy of the division, he moved up in weight to take on former Olympian & WBC Lightweight world champion 🇺🇸David Diaz. The fight started with Diaz trying to control real-estate, imposing his will standing in the pocket, and trading with Manny behind his high-guard defense, but Manny started the fight off like an 🐰energizer bunny, firing away with blinding speed combinations, with punches from angles that most boxers wouldn’t even think of conjuring up.
At the end of the second round, Manny somehow managed to throw 205 punches in total, and he opened up a pretty bad cut on the bridge of Diaz’s nose. In the 4th round, Pacquiao opened a 🩸nasty cut over the right eye that was eyebrow length, and blood was streaming from the cut, painting Diaz with a 👹crimson mask. Pacquiao overwhelmed Diaz every moment of the fight, and blew up on David in the 8th round.
David in the 9th round was caught with a 1-2, that dropped him down to the canvas, and veteran Referee 🕴🏽Vic Draculich immediately put a stop to the fight as he hit the canvas.
Draculich is a good, old-school Ref, who’ll give fighters a chance to come back, especially Champions…however it was clear during the 8th round that David had nothing left to offer. This was one of Pacquiao’s 3 best overall performances in my view, in a bout that I awarded him three separate 10-8 rounds, predicated on sheer dominance, void of knockdown’s. Manny Pacquiao was now a holder of the LINEAL/RING Super-Featherweight, and WBC Lightweight title belts.
GETTING TO FIGHT YOUR CHILDHOOD IDOL, TO RETIRING YOUR IDOL FROM THE PLATFORM IN WHICH HE INSPIRED YOU
Next up, Manny decided to jump up ⚖️2 weight classes to fight his childhood idol, and legendary 6-division world champion and former Gold-Medalist 🥇🇺🇸Oscar De La Hoya at a Welterweight catchweight. Despite Oscar’s best days being gone, he could still fight, and many critics were outwardly concerned about Pacquiao’s health, worrying that Pacquiao was being overly ambitious, and making too big of a jump up to fight someone dangerous, and much bigger in stature.
When the fight started, three things were apparent – those being the massive difference in handspeed, Pacquiao carrying his vaunted power up with him, and De La Hoya not being able to pull the trigger when he needed to. Oscar’s jab was nullified from the get-go due to landing a few 💪🏽counter-right hooks and making Oscar second-guess about flicking it out there.
De La Hoya had a difficult time figuring out Pac’s 👣footwork, and and started following him around the ring instead of being able to cut off the ring for his sake. It’s pretty incredible to say that Manny’s patented left cross was the best weapon in the sport at the time, but his vast improvement to his right hook, made it every bit as dangerous as the long left hand, and Oscar was getting the full brunt of the punishment, being bombarded by both, without any inkling of mercy.
At the end of the 5th round, there was a mini rally from De La Hoya, who truthfully got away with holding and hitting, but he landed about 5 nice power shots upstairs, but didn’t do enough of that to win him the round. More and more as the time went along, Pacquiao looked like 📽️fast-forwarded video footage, compared to a still image, and Oscar’s face began to start 🩹busting up badly with body and facial damage.
Round 7 was one of the most lopsided rounds that I’ve EVER seen from any fighter, torturing the Golden Boy to oblivion, and out-landing him 47 punches, to 7 in that stanza. Oscar had no answers whatsoever, and became a human punching bag to the best offensive fighter in the sport. After being pummeled for eight rounds, De La Hoya decided to retire on his stool, and never fought again, hanging his 🥊🥊gloves up for good.
DOES IT EVER STOP? – MAGIC OF PACMAN CONTINUES, AND RICKY HATTON IS DETHRONED WITH KNOCKOUT OF LEGEND
A huge fight was set up between rugged British Lineal Junior-Welterweight World Champion 🇬🇧Ricky “Hitman” Hatton. The first half of round 1 was a competitive affair, with Hatton trying to show his physical superiority by roughhousing the “small guy” around the ring, which backfired quickly. Pacquiao’s blinding handspeed was too much for the Champion to handle, and he was caught with a hellacious right hook, that put him down at the backend of the 1st round.
When Ricky got up, Pacquiao turned into a 🤖war machine, and unleashed a feverish onslaught of punches, muscling, manhandling Hatton, and managed to put Hatton down for a second time at the end of the round in a violent display. Somehow Hatton made it through the round, but it was apparent he knew he made a colossal mistake trying to bully Pac around. In the second round, Pacquiao showcased full control and mastery inside of the pocket, fighting Hatton at angles and keeping him off balanced with the movement.
Although Hatton cleared the cobwebs in his head and was now into the fight, by this point, it was apparent that he was outclassed by his counterpart. At the end of the 2nd round, Pacquiao landed a perfect 💣💥overhand left hand to Hatton’s chin, and Ricky dropped like a slab of 🧱bricks delivering the most hellacious knockout of Pacquiao’s illustrious career, and one of the most devastating knockouts in recent memory.
There was immediate concern that took over the MGM Grand in Las Vegas – fans, announcers, medical staff, as Hatton laid flat on his back for a while, hyperventilating, and glassy-eyed…but after a few minutes, he was able to get up and sit on the stool. Thankfully he was okay. With this accomplishment, Pacquiao tied 🥇🇺🇸Oscar De La Hoya as being the only 2 boxers historically to become a 6-division Champion.
STAKING HIS CLAIM AS ONE OF THE BEST OF ALL TIME – MOVES UP ONCE AGAIN TO DEMOLISH THE GREAT MIGUEL COTTO
Considering what Pacquiao had done up to this juncture, how much further could he go in fighting heavier top notch opposition❓ His next fight would give us the answers we were looking for. Next up? Puerto Rican legend 🇵🇷Miguel Cotto, who was the WBO Welterweight champion, and coming off of a close fight with 🇬🇭Joshua Clottey. With Cotto being a full fledged Welterweight, this was the heaviest opponent Manny was facing up to this point in his storied career.
The first 5 rounds were very exciting as expected, with Cotto coming in sharp, and Pacquiao even sharper, hurting Cotto with multiple combinations to the head and to the body. Cotto was knocked down in the 3rd round. In round 4, Miguel Cotto appeared to have Pacquiao in some trouble and began pummeling Manny on the ropes. Manny in the exchange managed to land a 🖼️picture-perfect uppercut on the chin that knocked Miguel down for a second time in the bout.
After the 5th round concluded, Pac turned it 📈up a couple of notches, hitting Cotto with everything but the 🚰kitchen sink from every angle imaginable. Cotto tried everything in his deep 🎒bag of tricks to counter Pacquiao, or to at least find some type of way to slow down the onslaught, but he was overwhelmed in the second half of the fight. Pacquiao seemed to get even stronger throughout the rounds, and Cotto slowed down, succumbing to the facial damage, and the speed in which Pacquiao was orchestrating his attack.
With the damage accumulated in the 11th round, Cotto was contemplating calling it a day…but he was talking into going out there by his corner. As the round started, more of the same punishment ensued, so Referee 🕴🏿Kenny Bayless decided Miguel had enough, and Pacquiao received the technical knockout in the 12th round. This was the only fight in Cotto’s career that he was blown out in, which says a lot about Manny Pacquiao, especially considering that he was once a ⚖️Strawweight. The “Pac-Man” became the only fighter in boxing history to become a 7-division Champion.
LIKE AN EXPRESS VS. A LOCAL TRAIN – MANNY TAMES CLOTTEY WITH ACTIVITY
His next fight was against the formidable former world titlist 🇬🇭Joshua Clottey. Clottey was fresh off of his Technical-Decision win against 🇺🇸Zab Judah (cut over Zab’s eye, went to the cards after 9, but Joshua did enough in the minds of the judges), and his razor close loss to 🇵🇷Miguel Cotto, and it was safe to say that this was the peak of Clottey’s career.
With Clottey’s tendency to go into a complete defensive shell when his opponent was on the attack, and Pacquiao’s relentless assault, it was a very difficult fight to watch personally – no fault to Pacquiao, or even to Clottey, and I’ll explain why later on for Clottey’s sake. With the events that transpired, the fight ended up as a one-sided affair for Pac.
I didn’t agree with some peoples gripe about Clottey or showing up just to show up. It was a nightmare match-up for him stylistically when you factor in the skillsets of both fighters. You have Clottey, who was either on the hunt, or very defensive when under attack – nothing in between.
Pacquiao kept him busy doing the latter, and doing so by throwing an outrageous 1,231 punches, and keeping Joshua stuck behind his 🐚shell, with Pacquiao not showing any real signs of fatigue firing his barrage of punches throughout the fight. With all that taking place, and amidst the criticism, he actually did better than many opponents have against Pac-Man in years prior, albeit being blown out on points.
PAC PULVERIZES THE BULLY – WORKS A NUMBER ON HIS EYE FOR MORE HISTORY
Still Welterweight Champ, Manny went after a title in an unprecedented 8th division by fighting much maligned Mexican former world titlist 🇲🇽Antonio Margarito for the vacant WBC Super-Welterweight belt. Margarito was the MUCH bigger man visibly, coming in at ⚖️165 lbs., and Manny coming in at ⚖️148 lbs. Manny was arguably at the pinnacle of his abilities, displaying beautiful footwork, combination punching, 💨stamina, and great ring generalship.
The first couple of rounds were competitive, but Manny eventually found his groove and started letting his hands go, and hurt him to the body immensely with a straight left. It only got worse from there, with Margarito’s 🩸right eye cut, and bruising badly. Margarito did find a little success landing combinations while Manny’s back touched the ropes, but Pacquiao had answers for everything he threw.
Displaying beautiful 👣footwork, and utilization of the ring in the mid-rounds, Manny was showcasing how far he came from being a 1 armed pugilist in his early years, to becoming a true all-around fighter in ability. The 8th round was the most entertaining one, as both fighters fought at a feverish pitch.
When the 10th round came up, Manny was in full attack mode, brutally beating, and battering Tony Margarito’s 👁️eye into something grotesque, as Manny began to start looking over at Referee 🕴🏼Laurence Cole (always controversy) in concern for Antonio’s eye every time he landed something significant.
Manny decided to carry Margarito to the 🛎️final bell, which speaks much to the character of the man. Via lopsided decision, Pacquiao became a 2-division simultaneous world titlist once again, and broke his own record by now claiming a world title in 8 different divisions, nearly half of the 17 divisions currently in boxing. For many fans, this was a revenge fight for 🇵🇷Miguel Cotto fans due to the plaster-wraps.
MANNY SHOWS SOME SIGNS OF DECLINE, BUT STILL SECURES THE COMMANDING VICTORY OVER AGING SHANE MOSLEY
Manny set his eyes on all-time-great, but fading 🇺🇸Sugar Shane Mosley at Welterweight in a fight that did not live up to its excitement that it was expected to generate. To be honest, this was the fight that I anticipated the most personally, even more than a mega-fight with 🥉🇺🇸Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The reason why is because from a pure entertainment perspective, here we had two of the best offensive fighters of the last couple generations, who could possibly produce an all-out war for the ages, but it didn’t happen…perhaps this fight materialized a couple years too late.
Early on, Pac looked especially sluggish, with no ™️trademark lateral foot movement, and even his left hand appeared to come out slow. This was the first time I’ve seen him not come out with the all-out aggression that we’ve grown accustomed to, but he was still showcasing great refined skills, fighting a cerebral fight with Mosley, most notably in the pocket.
Mosley, who possessed one of the best chins in the entire generation, was knocked down with a 🔨sledge-hammer left in the 3rd round – a shot that Mosley later said was the hardest he’s ever been hit with as a pro. Staggering on his feet, he was able to escape the round. For the rest of the fight, Pacquiao you could say was on cruise control.
An ill-advised knockdown was called against Manny in the 10th by Referee 🕴🏿Kenny Bayless, when the encounter was a blatant push. Manny got up and dominated the final 2 rounds to secure the Unanimous Decision victory. Reportedly Manny was harboring a 🦵🏽💢leg injury, which he said contributed to hindering his movement, which I believe, because I’ve never seen him with this lack of footwork in the ring, past or future.
With that being said, still when watching live, I thought to myself Manny doesn’t seem to be performing to the standard that we’ve grown accustomed to, and in hindsight looking back, I believe I was right in pinpointing this specific bout as the beginning to his 📉slight decline from his prime years.
CONTROVERSIAL TO SOME, AND A SHIFT IN RANKS, AS MARQUEZ AND PACQUIAO FIGHT TOOTH AND NAIL ONCE AGAIN
Next was his eagerly awaited third fight with rival 🇲🇽Juan Manuel Marquez at Welterweight, who by this point had cemented his legacy as a truly great fighter. Marquez entered the fight the most jacked he’s ever been in his career muscle-wise, in efforts to cancel out Manny’s strength advantage so that his technical boxing skills could take over to become the focal point of the fight. The first round was really round 25, picking up exactly where it left off, and molding into similar fights that we’ve had in their first two encounters.
Pacquiao seemed to have control and the upper hand early, shooting the straight left hand and side stepping off-line simultaneously – 📍a brand new wrinkle thrown at Marquez in terms of a different, mastered technique. About round 5 is where we seen a momentum shift in the fight, with Marquez making the adjustments to Pacquiao’s footwork, and started to counter the Filipino with ever increasing success.
In my opinion, Marquez ripped off about 4 rounds in a row, taking over the middle portion of the fight, shifting the momentum of the exchanges. The 9th was a barnburner, and perhaps the best round of the fight, with high end action from both fighters. Given the nature of the fight, Manny needed to make a strong statement in the final 2 rounds to hold his title, and status as the best P4P fighter on the planet.
Like a true Champion, Pacquiao dug down, and pulled those rounds out, rounds that I was shocked to see Marquez let up a little bit in. Legendary Head-Trainer 🥋Nacho Beristain may have made a mistake in instructing Marquez to coast towards the end, and it bit him at the end of the contest.
The Judges awarded a razor-thin Majority Decision to Manny Pacquiao with the official scorecards reading out as 📝114-114, 115-113, and 116-112. Marquez, a naturally classy fighter, was disgusted to the point he left the ring immediately after the cards were read, and headed to the dressing room, feeling from his vantage point that he was robbed again. It was this match where 📖Ring-Magazine dropped Manny Pacquiao from their #1 spot, and ranked him as #2 P4P in the world.
A BLATANT ROBBERY, PACQUIAO SEVERELY SHORTED BY JUDGES IN HIS FIRST OF 3 BOUTS WITH TIMOTHY BRADLEY
Undefeated former unified champ 🇺🇸Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley was next on the horizon. Bradley was a slick, crafty, yet unbelievably gutsy fighter, so his style presented a brand new challenge for Pac-Man to go up against. The normally elusive Bradley was getting found early, and Pacquiao landed some bombs that staggered him a few times.
Timothy seemed to tweak or twist his ankle and aggravated his hip taking a funky back-step after being hit with a straight left hand, and his leg seemed to nearly give out on him. Despite Bradley getting through the apparent 💢injury, it looked to hamper his abilities, and some of what he wanted to do in the ring. Pacquiao down the stretch looked to be in control of the fight, and maintained that the rest of the way through upon hearing the 🛎️bell sounding in the 12th round.
When the scorecards were read, it was Split-Decision, and the scorecards were closer than I thought they would be, but still had no worries that the verdict would go to the right man, with scores of 📝115-113, 115-113 and 113-115…..that is until Ring Announcer 🎙️Michael Buffer read the name of the winner!. It’s clear that Bradley was awarded a 🎁gift decision, although he did put up a solid effort, battling through his injuries, and not giving into circumstances…but in one of the, if not the worst decision of the entire decade, the WBO world Welterweight title belt inexplicably exchanged hands.
Pundits in boxing weren’t deterred by the bogus verdict – instead many still viewed, and ranked Manny as one of the 2 best P4P fighters in the world (At this point, the 🇵🇭Manny Pacquiao/🇺🇸Floyd Mayweather Jr. comparisons were at their all time highest as to who was the best fighter in the world).
THE SHOCKER – IN THE RIVALS FINAL ENCOUNTER, MARQUEZ DELIVERS THE SURPRISE KNOCKOUT OF THE DECADE
In an all-out, settle the score match, 🇲🇽Juan Manuel Marquez and Pacquiao squared off for the 4th and final time. The tone was set with a rare intense staredown between the two before the opening bell sounded; You got the feeling that a war was about to take place. Round 37 on the way (laughs), much of the same of what we grew accustomed to, and enjoyed. Once again, another war ensued of epic proportion.
Marquez knocked Pacquiao down in the 3rd round with a surprising overhand right. Manny grew so accustomed to Marquez shooting it straight, that it threw him off guard.
Manny got up, unscathed, and continued boxing. Manny returned the favor in the 4th with a straight left hand, and Juan’s 🥊glove touched the canvas, warranting the 8-count.
Marquez seemed to be in serious trouble as Manny turned up the onslaught. Manny made it clear that he wanted to put all doubts to rest against his career rival leading up to the fight, and began to overpress the action, resorting back to a bad habit from earlier in his career by becoming reckless in his attack, and he was countered with a 💣💥devastating right hand as the bell sounded at the end of round 6 😮 – and immediately dropped face first down to the canvas.
🥈🇺🇸Roy Jones Jr.’s words, and level of shock echoed what we had just seen, stating “whoa!…he’s not getting up Jim!…he’s not getting up Jim!!”, of course yelling that to 🎙️Jim Lampley. Referee 🕴🏿Kenny Bayless stopped his count halfway through, and signaled the knockout, putting a stamp on the greatest moment of Juan Manuel Marquez’s career, and without a doubt, the signature knockout of the decade.
Manny’s Wife 💃Jinkee Pacquiao was completely distraught after the sight of her husband face first on the canvas, laying there seemingly lifeless, and she somehow made her way up to ringside through the security. That’s the one thing I wish networks wouldn’t showcase, a wife’s reaction to such a devastating knockout. With this incredible accomplishment, this cemented Juan’s legacy as an all-time-great fighter.
UNCERTAINTY, A STRONG COMEBACK, AND PAYBACK, AS HE “OFFICIALLY” GETS WIN, DEFEATING BRADLEY IN REMATCH
The consensus unsure on if Pacquiao would ever be the same, or if he would hang them up, he decided to climb back in the ring and meet against former titlist 🇺🇸Brandon Rios, whom he took care of by Unanimous Decision. During the fight, he didn’t appear to be gun-shy, or to lose any of his reflexes that he had shown in his previous 3 fights, so it became apparent that he was still a major player in boxing’s hierarchy.
Pacquiao by this point of his career was a kind soul who wasn’t one for the malice of unnecessary punishment, but on November 4th, 2013, he made an exception. There were reports, and video evidence of Rios making fun of 🥋Freddie Roach and his parkinson’s disease, and Manny intended to make him pay thoroughly for it. He made sure to stay on top of Rios, drubbing him into near oblivion, and purposely carrying him through all 🛎️12 rounds to maximize the impact.
Pacquiao pitched a virtual shutout, and though Rios was a stationary, defenseless target that didn’t fight at angles too well, Pacquiao in this bout looked about as good as he did since his fight against Rios buddy 🇲🇽Antonio Margarito on this particular night, in terms of his movement, timing, balance, speed, stamina, and combination punching.
His next fight was against Ring-Magazine’s #3 ranked P4P fighter 🇺🇸Timothy Bradley for his WBO Welterweight title belt. While the consensus the first time around was that Bradley received a 🎄🎁Christmas gift, the divisions rollout became very interesting, because after Pacquiao was knocked out by Marquez, Bradley proved his true medal, and beat Marquez in Juan Manuel’s next fight – Bradley’s greatest win.
It was evident early that Manny was imploring a more conservative, 🧠cerebral approach, picking and choosing his spots to explode whenever he found cracks in Tim’s defense.
Despite Bradley’s chiseled physique, he was never a big puncher…however in his last couple of fights, he showed improvement in that area, proving that he could punch a little bit, and made it a priority to sit on his punches more, and he brought that into this fight, as well as heightened confidence.
While it was a good scrap, Manny was able to beat Bradley in what was a more competitive fight, and a more exciting showing than in their previous encounter. Pacquiao was awarded a Unanimous Decision on the scorecards. Next in line was former Junior-Welterweight world titlist 🇺🇸Chris Algieri. Pacquiao dominated the fight thoroughly from start to finish, and knocked Algieri down a total of 6 times en route to the most lopsided victory of Manny Pacquiao’s career.
MOST ANTICIPATED BOUT OF THE 21ST CENTURY HAPPENS FAR TOO LATE, AND FAILS TO LIVE UP TO ANY EXPECTATIONS
The one fight that was universally anticipated, was next up. The mega P4P Unification match against undefeated all-time-great 🥉🇺🇸Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. This bout had been bubbling for 6 years, since Manny ascended to the #1 P4P spot in the world that Floyd had prior to his abrupt retirement in 2007. Floyd returned to pick up where he left off, returning after a 2 year hiatus. The 💵highest grossing fight of all time didn’t match the anticipation that we had all hoped for. While it was a closer fight than the scorecards indicated, there was very little action in the contest.
Floyd used the ring, and relied on his usual air-tight defensive tactics, while Pacquiao landed some nice counters in closed quarters that oft went unnoticed by the 🎙️Commentators. Pacquiao had his big moment stunning Mayweather with a left hand in the 4th round, and pinned Floyd to the ropes as he dominated the round. There wasn’t nearly enough of that aggression from Manny, as he fought more like the Pacquiao of older years with a more tamed, conservative attack.
The fight should’ve happened years ago when Pacquiao possessed that 🌪️relentless energy that used to overwhelm opponents in his prime. Floyd re-established himself in the middle rounds, and regrouped by finding opportunities to counter, keeping his distance, relying on outside footwork, and tacking on the points with a methodical approach. The Judges awarded a Decision to Floyd, and he became the unified LINEAL/WBA/WBC/WBO Welterweight World Champion.
There was a controversial backdrop post-fight where Pacquiao and his camp specified a 💢shoulder injury that wasn’t publicly reported. Perhaps he felt if he pulled out of the fight at that point, that he would never get the opportunity again, but that put Pacquiao and his team in hot water with the Commission, and those gambling on the event.
Albeit being a historical “Fight-of-the-Century” type of event, expectations fell far short, as there were minimal moments of action to speak of, and truthfully, this fight had a shelf-life of 2009-2011 when it comes to both prizefighters being at their peak prime in abilities. What we ended up with were 2 big names, one of them dipping a little further past his prime than the other, and a match up that basically happened about 5 years too late. What started out as marinating in making the fight lucrative turned into an overcooked result.
GOING OUT ON TOP – PACQUIAO DEFEATS BRADLEY ONCE AGAIN IN THEIR THIRD FIGHT, RETIRES AFTER THE FIGHT
Pacquiao had what was thought of as a retirement fight at the time, by having the rubbermatch with 🇺🇸Timothy Bradley to “officially” settle the score. The fight, Bradley showed some real craft, and Pac decided to box him, countering in spots, something Bradley and his Head-Trainer 🥋Teddy Atlas wasn’t anticipating. Through the first 7 rounds, Bradley gave Pac some trouble, out-boxed the veteran at times, and fighting a virtually even fight through the 1st half of the bout.
Bradley caught Pacquiao with a sick uppercut in the 5th round while Manny was leaned over to his right side, snapping his head all the way back – one of the bright spots in the fight for him. The fight eventually broke loose in Pacquiao’s favor, knocking Bradley down in the 7th round. Bradley came back in the 8th and hurt Manny himself, so Timothy bumrushed him, trying to put him down, but to no avail. Pac continued pressing forward, and knocked Tim down again with a 💥right hook in the 9th round, making Bradley flip all the way over.
With added pressure all the way to the 🛎️final bell, Pacquiao was awarded a 12 round Unanimous Decision and recaptured the WBO Welterweight title – also winning the vacant Ring-Lineal title that was presented for this bout. Bradley had stated that this performance from Manny against him was the best out of the series because Manny cleverly countered him, and displayed very sound defense, which threw off his game.
What started out as a retirement bout for Manny ended up being a retirement bout for Tim instead. This would be the final stop on his destination – a very good career where he defeated every opponent that he had faced outside of Pacquiao (through the 🔎truth lens). Pac officially retired, but you know how boxing retirements can be…the curtain didn’t fully close.
PACQUIAO UNRETIRES, AND IMPRESSES WITH A WIN OVER JESSIE VARGAS
His retirement was short-lived, and his quest to regain a belt started with a bout against the acclaimed 🇺🇸Jessie Vargas for his WBO Welterweight title belt. Despite the lack of fanfare, Vargas had proven to be one of the elite boxers at the weight, so this was a good fight for Manny to 🎯target after coming out of his brief retirement. Pac looked to be in his usual form of recent dating back to the 3rd 🇲🇽Juan Manuel Marquez fight, and his fundamentals overall looked very sharp, giving Jessie Vargas a bunch of different looks.
Vargas was tactical, and boxed very well in stretches in the first half of the fight, forcing Manny to respect him and his right hand that he periodically landed. Manny knocked him down with a strong left hand in the 2nd round, but much to Jessie’s credit, he ⛈️weathered the storm well, and wasn’t undone by it mentally – something I tend to pay attention to more than the knockdown itself.
I had it scored 📝3-3 after six rounds, and of course the 1 point edge for Pacquiao because of the knockdown. Manny, now being the savvy veteran that he was, got a feel for Vargas’s style, what he liked to do, and where his desired range was to let off, and adjusted well enough to virtually win every round of the fight, from the 7th round on.
Vargas did himself a justice, but he had no answers for the aged, dangerous warrior, and Pacquiao grabbed another belt, once again winning the WBO Welterweight world title that he had retired with after his defeat over 🇺🇸Tim Bradley.
TAKING THE SHOW ABROAD – OFF-FORM PACQUIAO GETS CHEATED IN AUSTRALIA
Manny would then take the show to the road, to combat against #2 ranked WBO challenger 🇦🇺Jeff Horn from Australia. The fight had an interesting start, with Horn showcasing a herky-jerky style with solid footwork that took Pacquiao some time getting used to. Horn who looked like a giant next to Manny, possessed a 📏31⁄2 inch functional height advantage, and imposed his strength and size on Manny when pinned on the ropes, and was successful in ripping some uppercuts through Manny Pacquiao’s guard.
The first half of the fight was a physical give-or-take affair in which both fighters had their signature moments. The second half of the fight Manny owned exclusively, figuring out his distance to measure his shots properly, and started ripping off combinations. A couple of questionable headbutts caused two 🩹gashes on both sides of Pacquiao’s temple, and 🩸blood started pouring down, resembling a horror scene.
Manny turned up the pressure, and delivered a dominant 9th round where he beat Horn from pillar to post, which forced the Referee after the round to think about stopping the fight. Manny was especially sloppy throughout the fight, and his normally stellar 💨stamina was compromised as well, as when he had Horn reeling in the 9th round, he ran out of ⛽gas to sustain the action, and lost some steam on his punches.
Manny did enough down the stretch to secure the victory comfortably it would seem…..but nothing is ever guaranteed when fighting abroad. The nightmarish 💭thought turned into a reality, as Pacquiao was shorted of his victory, and Jeff Horn unjustly became the new WBO Welterweight titlist.
ROACH OUT, BUBOY IN – MANNY RETURNS TO STELLAR FORM PRE-HORN TO END LUCAS MATTHYSSE’S PRO CAREER
After a long hiatus, and an outpour of worried pundits upon his wishes to continue boxing in the backdrop of his poor performance against Horn, we’ve seen Promoter 👴🏼Bob Arum get axed, and legendary Trainer 🥋Freddie Roach get shelved by Manny Pacquiao due to some discrepancy in favor of longtime friend and cornerman 🥋Buboy Fernandez.
Manny stepped back in the ring after a 1 year layoff to face dangerous knockout artist 🇦🇷Lucas Martin Matthysse. This bout coming in felt like an “over-the-hill” type of match, but I figured we’d get a good fight out of this anyway. To the surprise of many, the Pac-Man looked incredibly fresh / rejuvenated, his footwork was back to being what it was, and his defensive fundamentals were sured up.
This looked like the level Pacquiao fought 🇺🇸Tim Bradley at in the third fight. Lucas was befuddled by his 👣footwork, and the 39 year old was picking him off with lead left hands, and a heavy barrage of uppercuts, one of them knocking Lucas down as Manny was shuffling his feet, darted in, and landed while Luke was lurching forward, leaning into the punch.
Manny was in full control, and kept his foot on the gas pedal. Pacquiao clipped Lucas on the temple with a right hook in the 5th round, forcing him to take a knee. Similar to the first knockdown, Pacquiao hit him with another 💪🏽uppercut in the 7th stanza that Lucas knelt down into, knocking him down for a final time – this time Lucas spitting out his mouthpiece in resignation, securing Pacquiao’s knockout victory.
PERHAPS THE TWO MOST CONTRASTING PERSONALITIES OF ALL TIME, PACMAN SHUTS BRONER UP WITH DECISION WIN
After this win, Manny reconciled with 🥋Freddie Roach and welcomed him back to his corner, this time in more of a co-trainer format in Pacquiao’s corner with 🥋Buboy Fernandez, which was a welcoming site to see them working again. Manny after the resurgence kept his foot on the gas pedal, and decided to target explosive, but inconsistent 4-division titlist 🇺🇸Adrien Broner. Manny was very successful on this night, looking spry in his first fight at 40 years of age en route to defeating Broner by comfortable points Unanimous Decision.
Pacquiao gave him many different looks, outworking, and outwitting the younger man in a ♞♜chess game, firing off multiple combinations and staying out of Broner’s range for most of the fight to counter consistently, although Broner found a few opportunities to get some clean shots in, but landing one at a time virtually throughout the match.
Broner only threw an anemic 295 punches through 12 rounds, and there is no way in hell you can ever win a full-length boxing match by throwing less than 300 shots; in fact, the 40 year old veteran literally doubled Adrien’s punch output, who is 11 years Pacquiao’s junior, which is a shame in and of itself.
Even more shameful, Broner went off 🗣️🎙️post-fight with one of his over the top rants, believing somehow he had won, what was clearly a one-sided, dominant affair against his favor. Broner also didn’t do himself any favors in the final 2 rounds, with Manny chasing him around the ring, especially in the waning seconds of the 12th round. Even at this stage of his career, Manny Pacquiao was still a force to be reckoned with.
THE LIVING LEGEND DOES IT AGAIN, ADDS TO LEGENDARY CAMPAIGN OF A CAREER
The Pac-Man at the age of 40 had lofty ambitions to become the oldest Welterweight world titlist of all time, and the mark he settled to go after was an undefeated force who became one of the leading faces of the ⚖️147 lb. class. Unbeaten WBA Champion 🇺🇸Keith “One Time” Thurman was deadset on getting an opportunity to face a legend such as Pacquaio, and being that he was still around, and fighting at a high level, the stars aligned for that opportunity to manifest.
The first round, you could tell that Keith was trying to 💣bomb him out of there, tipping his own hand and revealing his game plans by stating to the public that he bet on himself to knock Pacquiao out in rounds 1, 2 and 7, so as he pressed the action, Manny proved to be the faster fighter, landing his check right-hooks, left hand combinations that only he can throw.
Manny Pacquiao late in the first round landed a big, thudding 💥right hand and boom, floored the Champion for what was the second time in Keith Thurman’s professional career.
In an astonishing fold out of events, Manny dominated and shut out Keith in the first half of the fight, darting in and out, firing at will, turning and confusing Keith at all costs.
Manny’s money punch in the fight especially the first 7 or 8 rounds was the 💪🏽counter-right hook that he kept ripping in there through Keith’s defense, and he had no answers for it, and as he had Keith worried about that punch coming in, Pacquiao would give him a different variety of punches to keep him off-balanced and guessing – Keith couldn’t get going.
Thurman did eventually find his groove in the middle rounds, figuring out that fighting as a counter-puncher from distance was a far better tactic, and was seeing a drastic upturn in success, keeping Manny away which limited his ability to land the right hook as he was landing it, and taking away the long left, taking advantage of Manny’s short reach.
Pacquiao hurt Thurman with a hard left hand to the ribs that had Keith hunched over in a defensive posture and circling hard out the way, and Manny tried to get back in there to inflict more damage and to take Keith out, but he couldn’t get close enough to close the show with a bang there.
Down the stretch, Keith asserted himself, trying to make something big happen, and Manny decided to pick and choose his spots to remain responsible defensively, while letting his offense off when there was an opportunity to take. When the final 10 second marker came, that was thrown into the wind, and they both fought relentlessly to the 🛎️final bell.
Manny dominated the fight, but a nervous energy came over the crowd when it was announced as a Split-Decision. Luckily 2 other Judges actually watched the fight through non-partisan eyes, and history was made, with Manny Pacquiao becoming the oldest Welterweight Champion in boxing history.
PACQUIAO RETURNS AFTER TWO YEAR HIATUS, BUT THE MAGIC IS GONE, AND UGAS SHOWS OUT TO DEFEAT THE LEGEND
Much of boxing went on a hiatus due to the ⚕️pandemic and world health crisis, so many of the familiar faces of today’s boxing weren’t seen for quite some time. Manny Pacquiao spent 25 months outside of the ring after winning the WBA Welterweight title at 40 years old. Due to the extensive layoff, Cuba’s 🥉🇨🇺Yordenis Ugas was elevated from secondary, to full time WBA Champion, as Pacquiao was stripped of his belt.
In a sense, this was a “deja vu” type of a situation for Pac, who made his worldly introduction against 🇿🇦Lehlo Ledwaba by taking the fight on 2-weeks notice, and showing out. A similar situation unfolded here, but the difference was…..that the fighter taking the bout on short notice was the reigning WBA Welterweight world titlist Ugas, and he showed the world what he was capable of doing at the elite level.
Manny’s handspeed was there, but his legs were stagnant, as he couldn’t step to the sides consistently enough to take the angles, and get out of the range where Ugas likes to operate at best, that being right up the middle, as he is a very linear fighter. Ugas by round 4 developed a firm command behind his stubborn cage of a defense, thwarting Manny’s lengthy combinations, and picking off a good percentage of his check-right hooks, while Ugas controlled distance with the jab.
Manny had pockets of success here and there in the latter stages of the bout, but it wasn’t the type of sustained action that he needed to inflict to put any added pressure on the Cuban, as Ugas’s ring-generalship largely botted up the Pacquiao offensive 🚄freight-train. Manny’s legs weren’t there, so he was a sitting duck for Ugas straight lined attack.
Though the fight was competitive, the decision was clear, as Yordenis did enough to secure the 📝Unanimous Decision win for what is the greatest victory of his career. As for Manny, he was fully gracious in defeat, and gave heartfelt thanks to all those in attendance, and fans around the 🌏world for always supporting him through thick and thin.
Naturally the question was asked “will you retire“ Manny didn’t outright answer it, stating that he needs some time to sit down, and think about whether he wants to keep going, or to officially hang the gloves up and call it a career.
A CAREER COMPARISON, PERSPECTIVE, AND THE MEASURE OF GREATNESS
I don’t think it is a stretch at all to consider Manny Pacquiao the 🔱🇺🇸Henry Armstrong of the modern era – a left handed version. The eras in which they operated are strikingly different, as different as their fighting styles, however when you look at some of the similarities in their accomplishments, swarming prowess, ambition, and take time to examine them to their core – it’s amazing what you come up with when you cast them both under a 🔬reasonable microscope.
Henry Armstrong held the Featherweight, Lightweight, and Welterweight Crowns at the same time, and won them in a 10 month span, which is astonishing. It was widely reported that he should have gotten the nod over 🇵🇭Ceferino Garcia in their title bout, which also would’ve made Henry Melody Jackson (Armstrong’s real name) the Middleweight Champion, which would’ve made him a 4-division Lineal Champion at the same time, which is downright inconceivable.
For Pacquiao’s sake, boxing nowadays no longer lets you reign as a 2-division Champion, or to win/hold titles in 3 different divisions, but if you look at Manny’s clip of back-to-back fights from 🇲🇽Marquez (130 Lineal), 🇺🇸Diaz (135 title), 🇺🇸De La Hoya (147), 🇬🇧Hatton (140 Lineal), all 4 of these fights came consecutively. He won 3 different titles in 3 divisions in a span of 14 months, and at a 4th weight class against 🇵🇷Cotto (147), in a 5th consecutive fight, all in a span of 20 months.
For perspective, the Lineal picture nowadays is one that is tougher to string together strictly due to boxing politics, and also keep in mind that those politics have rendered it impossible to jump up to another division to fight for a Lineal title against the #1 ranked fighter of the weight class in instances where a Lineal Champion IS NOT in place, so the only way that would be achieved, is if there were 3 Lineal Champions already established in 3 different divisions to challenge, but seldom you ever see a King crowned in consecutive 3 division clusters.
Now with that being stated, Pacquiao made his 🦴🦴bones for a while at Super-Featherweight, as did Juan Manuel Marquez, for the two best fighters in the division properly having the vacant Lineal/Ring Title put on the table to win. Pacquiao moved ⬆️up to fight only once in the Lightweight division, against one of the highest ranked in David Diaz, blasting him out, but no Lineal title on the table due to the rollout.
Pacquiao’s immediate pursuit to Junior-Welterweight, Ricky Hatton was already crowned Lineal/Ring Champion, so it was set up well for Pacquiao to go and test his mettle, passing with flying colors….which ultimately meant 2 Lineal Titles achieved/won in two separate divisions in 14 months.
With time constrictions placed on holding your Lineal status, in accordance to the 🌊muddled waters of some divisions not already having a Lineal Champion for a mercenary like Pacquiao to bogard, the way that Pacquiao did it when you pro-rate it, is about what it would look like give-or-take if the great Armstrong did what he had to do in this era.
That of course is enough reason to revere both as amongst two of the 🤴best to ever do it, with different rollouts to greatness due to the different in policy within the sport. The more things differentiate over the years, the more they stay the same when you’re able to contextualize both journeys under different parameters they had to follow in their given eras.
Now, 📌Ring/Lineal belts aside, today is pretty much alphabet soup when it comes to titles, but Manny went about his business the correct way, and became boxings only 5-division Lineal Champion. If you fit that into the original 8-division layout, then Manny would’ve still been a Triple Crown Lineal Champion at Flyweight, Featherweight, and Welterweight.
Armstrong is universally recognized as a 📍top-10 fighter of all time, and even ranked in the top-5 by many hardcore boxing pundits. Considering what Manny Pacquiao has been able to accomplish over his long 26 year journey, I personally have him in my 📍top-8 all time in boxings tenured history, as well as Armstrong of course, with all things factored in.
Considering what Manny has been able to accomplish in his time. The great thing about comparisons are not the comparisons itself, but it gives people the opportunity to reminisce, and 📽️revisit past greats such as Armstrong to give him his just-due, as well as to give the other fighter (of course that being Pacquiao) the respect that he ultimately deserves.
A FIGHTING CONGRESSMAN, FIGHTING CONGRESSMEN AS A SENATOR, BATTLING FOR FILIPINO PEOPLE IN THE PHILIPPINES
All-time-great fighters don’t often come by, and as they approach the twilight of their career, a proper salute is in order. As unique as they come, Manny Pacquiao has cemented a legacy that compares with the greatest fighters of all time in the sports history – one that will withstand the test of time.
Becoming a 🏛️House Representative of the Philippines in 2010, then moving on to become a Senator in 2016, Manny had the unique task of balancing country duties with his boxing career, and he had succeeded in doing so.
It is for that reason why I dubbed him as “the ass-kicking Senator”. We don’t discuss the nature of politics over here, so we will just note that Manny Pacquiao has deeply ingratiated himself in the process, and is currently contemplating running for 🏛️🕴🏽President of the Philippines, which has a stake in both his politics, and his decision to step away from the sport, as the two paths are intertwined with each other.
It appears that the writing might be on the wall for his boxing career, and he has truly been a pleasure to watch, and when the day comes when Manny hangs the 🥊🥊gloves up, it will be a very, very sad day for boxing in its entirety.