On April 9, 2016, the boxing world appears set to lose it’s second all time great in less than a year. The first was obviously Floyd Mayweather, and the second appears to be Manny Pacquiao. While Pacquiao and his long time promoter Bob Arum have publically revealed this could be the final go round for the Filipino great, nothing has been set in stone.
But going under the assumption that this is Pacquiao’s final bout, a trilogy sealing bout against Timothy Bradley, we need to look back at one of the greatest boxing career in recent memory. It is fitting that both Mayweather and Pacquiao may walk away from the sport at the same time, as the two men have been linked career wise as much as any in boxing history. But another name must be added to the legacy of Pacquiao, which is Juan Manuel Marquez.
With a career that currently spans over 20 years, listing all of his accomplishments would take forever. So rather than highlight, let’s take a look at both the highlights and the low points of the career of Manny Pacquiao:
– debut in 1995. Facing Edmund Enting Ignacio in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, Philippines, Pacquiao would earn the Unanimous Decision.
– first professional loss in 1996. Taking on Rustico Torrecampo, Pacquiao missed the weight limit of 112 pounds. Penalized by being forced to wear 8 oz. gloves, as opposed to Torrecampo’s 6 oz gloves, he fell in the 3rd round to a left hook after losing the first 2 rounds.
– first word title in 1998. While he did capture the OBPF Flyweight crown in 1997, Pacquiao’s first “official” world title came via 8th round knockout over Chatchai Sasakul, earning him the WBC and lineal Flyweight crowns.
– first title loss in 1999. Once again, Pacquiao was unable to make the 112 Flyweight limit. Losing his lineal title to Medgoen Singsurat via 3rd round technical knockout, Pacquiao was also stripped of his WBC Flyweight crown before the bout, which was also claimed by Singsurat with the victory.
– second world title in 1999. Following the loss to Singsurat, Pacquiao made the move to Super Bantamweight (118 pounds) and defeated Reynante Jamili for the vacant WBC International title.
– third world title in 2003. Another move in weight brought Pacquiao another title, this time defeating the legendary Marco Antonio Barerra for The Ring and lineal Featherweight (126 pound) title.
– first meeting with Juan Manuel Marquez in 2004. In a rivalry that can hold a place with any in boxing history, Pacquiao and Marquez battled to a closely contested draw.
– super featherweight title loss in 2005. Making the move to yet another weight class, 130 pounds, Pacquiao would come up short against Eric Morales for the vacant WBC International and vacant IBA Super Featherweight titles.
– fourth world title in 2005. Battling Héctor Velázquez for the same WBC International super-featherweight title as he did versus Morales, Pacquiao was able to claim victory this time around.
– rematch with Marquez in 2008. Following 5 successful title defense, Pacquiao would once again go the distance with Marquez, earning a close decision which was highly debated by many.
– fifth world title in 2008. Taking on David Diaz at 135 pounds, Pacquiao would earn the WBC Lightweight title with a 9th round technical knockout.
– bout with Oscar De La Hoya in 2008. Making the massive jump from 135 pounds to 147 pounds, Pacquiao would go on to batter De La Hoya, resulting in an 8th round corner stoppage victory.
– sixth world title in 2009. Stepping down to 140 pounds, Pacquiao would defeat Ricky Hatton for the IBO, The Ring and lineal Light Welterweight titles. Pacquiao became only the second boxer to earn a world title in 6 separate weight classes.
– seventh world title in 2009. Moving back to 147 pounds, Pacquiao defeated Miguel Cotto for the WBO Welterweight title. While the bout was held at a Catchweight of 145 pounds, the victory made Pacquiao the first to capture world titles in 7 separate weight classes.
– eighth world title in 2010. Competing at his highest official weight ever, 154 pounds, Pacquiao defeated Antonio Margarito to claim the vacant WBC Super Welterweight title. With another Catchweight in place, Pacquiao would claim his final world title, giving him world titles in 8 separate weight classes.
– trilogy with Marquez in 2011. In similar fashion to the previous bouts, Marquez took Pacquiao the distance, with Marquez losing another highly contested bout, held at a Catchweight of 144 pounds for Pacquiao’s 147 pound title.
– back to back losses in 2012. While his first loss at the hands of Timothy Bradley went down as one of the biggest robberies in recent memory, Marquez’s victory was stamped with an emphatic right hand to the chin of Pacquiao.
– bout with Mayweather in 2015. After close to 5 years of failed negotiations, the 2 greatest fighters of our era finally faced off. In a typical Mayweather, or an atypical Pacquiao, bout, Mayweather took home the Unanimous Decision victory.
Now while these are the highs and lows of Pacquiao’s in ring life, there are many out of ring situations. The well documented tax issues, reports of infidelity and mistreatment of his wife, and most recently his comments towards the gay and lesbian community all play a role in the legacy of Pacquiao, but it is in his ring success, or failures, that should define the Manny Pacquiao we all know.
The one technically out of ring issue that must be addressed however is the on again, off again negotiations with Mayweather and his camp. Beginning in 2010 with the now infamous “scared of needles” comments made by Pacquiao’s camp, both parties involved seem more interested in gaining the upper hand in the bout, rather than simply facing off in the ring and letting all the primadonna demands and tactics go. When the bout did finally take place, it broke records in the boxing world that seem almost untouchable for many years.
Pacquiao fought in an era where your skill matters as much as your persona, needing to be skilled both in the ring and outside of it in a promotional aspect. The main issue with looking back on his career is that he competed at the same time as Floyd Mayweather. Many will knock Mayweather for his many faults, but as a fighter, there may be none better from a defensive standpoint.
Its is rare to see 2 all time greats compete at the same time, but when it does, one will always take top billing over the other, a 1 and 1A situation. Thomas “Hitman’ Hearns is one of the greatest Middleweight and Super Middleweight fighters of our generation, but will generally be overshadowed by “Sugar” Ray Leonard. Pacquiao appears to be the Hearns to Mayweather’s Leonard in this situation, but to be honest, there is nothing wrong with that.
Both men turned professional in the mid 90s, and both men appeared poised to leave the sport in the mid 2010’s. A who’s who of the boxing world fills both fighters resumes, with countless world titles and financial windfalls highlighting their success. But while both have lock hall of fame careers, each fighter’s final opponent has drawn some skepticism and ire from the boxing world.
Pacquiao has decided that Timothy Bradley, a man many believe has been beaten twice by Pacquiao in a span of 2 years, seems to be the handpicked victim from Pacquiao’s camp to either leave on a high note, or to position himself into a more lucrative bout should he emerge victorious.
Since entering the big stage of the boxing world in 2003, Pacquiao has had a total of 27 fights (this weekend included). Tallying a 21-4-1 record over these bouts, Pacquiao has faced 4 men a total of 12 times, Marquez 4, Bradley and Morales 3, and Barrera twice. This leaves 15 bouts remaining, and while most will remember bouts such as Mayweather, De La Hoya, and Cotto, fighters such as Fahsan 3K Battery, Oscar Larios and Jorge Solis played a major role in the progression of Pacquiao.
Generally speaking, boxers will take 15 to 20 bouts to find themselves as fighters. Fine tuning their skills and auditioning for promoters looking for the next big thing in the sport, once you reach the highest level, you are almost expected to take on the best of the best. Now this is not to say that Pacquiao hasn’t, but when compared to other fighters of this generation, many can say that Pacquiao’s route to the top was filled with less than stellar opponents, well timed matchups and catch weights which benefited Pacquiao.
While Pacquiao did receive some criticism for choice of opponent and other boxing related issues, his personality was always one that made the fans overlook any negative position that others usually get blasted for. And there is no blame for Pacquiao in that aspect, he generally appears to be a highly likable and lovable man, and his place in history is cemented no matter what detractors may have to say.
Win or loss, retire or carry on, this Saturday, Manny Pacquiao will leave the sport of boxing a better place. Proving that the little man can conquer anything, and that weight is simply a number, his place in the record books seems to be secure for the foreseeable future.
If only Mayweather had not been around.