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Manny Pacquiao – A great fighter?

By John F. McKenna (McJack: The question comes up repeatedly. How good is Manny Pacquiao, the “Pac Man”? His record speaks for itself. Manny was born on December 17, 1978 in the Philippines. He is the 1st fighter to win the World Championship in 8 different divisions. He is also the first fighter to win the lineal championship in 4 different weight classes. Manny was awarded the “Fighter of the Decade” for the 2000’s by the “Boxing Writers Association of America” and was also the Ring “Fighter of The Year” for 2006, 2008 and 2009.

The “Pac Man” is currently rated number one Pound for Pound best fighter in the world by several sporting news and boxing websites including The Ring, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NBC Sports, Yahoo Sports and Sporting News. Manny lived in poverty on the streets when he began his amateur boxing career at the age of fourteen years old, compiling an amateur record of 50 wins and 4 losses. Pacquiao turned pro in 1995 when he was 16 years old after the death of a close friend. Pacquiao first fought as a Flyweight and during his career has moved up to Super Bantamweight, then to Featherweight, Super Featherweight, Lightweight, Light Welterweight, Welterweight then Light Middleweight.

Incredibly Manny brought his power with him as he moved up through the higher weight classes. On December 6, 2008 Pacquiao gave Oscar Delahoya a one sided beating and after 8 rounds, Oscar’s corner stopped the fight when it became clear that Oscar was unable to cope with Manny’s speed. What makes the “Pac Man” so unique is not only his speed, but his power. After Delahoya Boxing fans and writers began to refer to Pacquiao as a great fighter.

Manny’s victory over Ricky Hatton on May 2, 2009 served only to solidify his status as a great fighter. Many boxing writers and fans gave the bigger, stronger Hatton a chance to defeat Pacquiao by using his size to rough up and break down Manny early on and score a late round stoppage. Those same people, this author included, were amazed at how easily Pacquiao disposed of Hatton. His 2nd KO of Hatton was stunning. It was obvious once again that Pacquia’s speed and power was too much for his opponent.

On November 14, 2009 Pacquiao faced Miquel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Manny dominated the fight, scoring a knockdown in the 3rd round and another knockdown in the 4th round. The referee stopped the one sided contest in the 12th round. The fight was the most watched boxing event of 2009 and earned Pacquiao about 22 million dollars to 12 million dollars for Cotto. There were 1.25 million PPV buys for the fight, which drew a live gate of $8,475,000.

On November 13, 2010 Pacquiao defeated Antonio Margarito in a fight that should have been stopped. Early on in the contest Maragarito would repeatedly grin at Manny after being hit by one of Manny’s lightning quick combinations. After the fight progressed and Margarito’s face began to lump up there was no more grinning. Manny would implore the referee to stop the fight in the tenth round, but the fight was allowed to continue. Margarito had to be hospitalized after the fight to undergo surgery to repair an orbital bone on his right eye.

One of the tell tale signs of a great fighter is that they often rise above themselves to win.
When Pacquiao is cornered and appears to be on the brink of being pummeled he rises to the occasion and immediately turns the tempo of the fight around by going on the attack.
He is one of those fighters who absolutely refuses to lose. The term “Great Fighter” is frequently over used and over hyped by the media. There are not too many fighters who can truly be classified as “Great”, particularly while they are still active. Frequently a great fighters accomplishments need to be viewed from a distance. This is true of athletes from any sport. One of the indicators of the “Pac Man’s” greatness is what his contemporaries say about him. It is predictable that someone like Bob Arum would refer to Manny as a great fighter, after all Arum promotes Pacquiao’s fights. When unbiased sources like Bert Sugar and Emanuel Steward however, refer to Manny as a great fighter you have to make note of it. When it comes to speed, ring generalship and footwork, Pacquiao is unsurpassed. The fact that he has moved up so many weight classes and still retains KO power is astounding. Pacquiao has the heart of a warrior and is absolutely fearless in the ring. It should be noted that often there is a lag time between the appearance of a great fighter and the publics perception of him as a great fighter. When Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) appeared on the scene it took some time before the public recognized what a great fighter he was. Never mind that he defeated everyone that he fought, he was criticized for “being up on his toes too much, holding his hands too low, hitting opponents while he was backing up, frequent clinching” (sound familiar?)
It took years before boxing fans realized how good Ali was.

Manny Pacquiao in addition to being a great fighter conducts himself with dignity and class both inside and outside of the ring. His conduct outside the ring may have no bearing on how good a fighter he is, but it greatly influences the public perception of him. Fortunately or unfortunately the way any public figure behaves is sometimes a determining factor in whether he receives fair treatment from the media. Manny gets good press and he is a hero in his homeland. He is presently taking some flak because his next opponent will be against Shane Mosley in May. Mosley although not the fighter he once was is still a big draw, which is the reason he will be Pacquiao’s next opponent. I’m sure the “Pac Man” will put on a show for his legions of fans.

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