- Born in December 1978 in Kibawe, Bukidnon, Philippines
- Fighter of the decade for the 2000’s
- Three time ‘Ring Magazine’ fighter of the year
- Only fighter to win eight divisional titles
- First boxer to claim five lineal championships
- Claimed a senate seat in the Philippines in May 2016
- Married to Jinkee (Jamora) Pacquiao with five children between them
By JAMES FOX
“Is that it? Let’s finish it! Okay, that’s it, let’s go!”
**Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding**
“Manny Pacquiao… has beaten Oscar De La Hoya…!”
And with those words bellowing from the ringside microphone of HBO’s veteran commentator Jim Lampley the diminutive, fearless and forever smiling ‘fighting pride of the Philippines’ walked across the ring toward his beaten former idol and held his arms aloft in victory to solidify his position as the number one ‘P4P’ fighter in the world and become the new golden boy of world boxing! A fight in which many experts suggested was “a step too far” (how many times have we heard that since!?), as Pacquiao climbed up two weight classes to demolish the much heralded Mexican-American darling of the fight game against all the odds at Welterweight in what was billed as ‘The Dream Match’
RISE THROUGH THE DIVISIONS
This victory began a rapid three-year ascension through the fashionable weight classes of boxing in which the now prime, seasoned and relentless whirlwind southpaw dismantled some of boxing’s biggest names in a blaze of glory and claimed title upon title, award upon award and huge PPV purse upon huge PPV purse.
A quick and brutal knockout victory over long time lineal Light-Welterweight king Ricky Hatton set up a clash with the strong and talented Puerto Rican WBO Welterweight Champion, Miguel Cotto, in what proved to be one of Pacquiao’s career best performances as he systematically ground down and broke the heart of his fellow future ‘Hall of fame’ opponent with lightning quick footwork and devastating flurries of punches throughout!
Calls then inevitably began to strengthen for a potential super-fight against unbeaten American stylist, Floyd Mayweather Jr. in what should have become one of boxing’s legendary rivalries, but was instead fought through the media in an endless dispute over promotional issues and drug testing protocols. The pair would eventually meet some years later.
Pacquiao then twice graced the newly built Dallas Cowboy’s stadium in Texas, drawing in record-breaking crowds, firstly against Ghana’s teak tough Joshua Clottey in defence of his WBO Welterweight title and then in a one-sided (yet brutal for both) unanimous points victory against the tall and powerful formerly disgraced Mexican, Antonio Margarito at a 150lb catch-weight for the WBC Super-Welterweight crown, in which Pacquiao was at a huge size and weight disadvantage on the night. A fight in which the battle scars were to leave their indelible mark on the man who once fought for a version of the Flyweight title.
A further victory over former four-time world champion ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley followed in May 2011 back at Welterweight to bookend a quite remarkable period for the Filipino icon.
IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS MANNY
Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao turned professional at the tender age of sixteen, having previously fought for nothing more than the right to feed and keep his family alive. An impoverished upbringing which would later mould him into the much revered humanitarian he is today.
Manny was progressing nicely through the domestic ranks early on, although seen as not much more than ‘a bit of a slugger’ he was often beating his opponents with a fan-friendly style and youthful cockiness that endeared him to his growing fan base and the boxing media alike.
However, this progress was abruptly halted as Manny suffered his first career loss against Rustico Torrecampo via third round knockout in Mandaluyong, Philippines. A fight which would only strengthen the young man’s state of mind though, as he went on the win his next twelve bouts and set up a first crack at a World Championship.
THE GOLD RUSH BEGINS
On December 4th, 1998, Manny claimed his first world title (WBC Flyweight) when he defeated the reigning champion, Chatchai Sasakul by eighth round knockout, a title he would defend only twice though before it was snatched away from him on the scales, failing to make weight for his subsequent second career loss to Medgoen ‘3K Battery’ Singsurat in Thailand.
a match made in heaven?
This second defeat prompted the ever-growing young man to jump up to the Super-Bantamweight division, where he won and then defended the WBC International crown five times in a two-year period before embarking on the journey which would ultimately turn him into one of the most recognisable names in the sport and begin one of the most successful trainer/fighter relationships in history.
On only two weeks notice, Pacquiao (who was by now under the tutelage of famed American coach, Freddie Roach) was drafted in as a late replacement to face IBF, 122lb champion Lehlo Ledwaba, a fight in which he was once again fighting against all the odds. However, the heavy-handed nature and vastly superior speed of Pacquiao’s punching was far too much for the South African and Manny won by bloody knockout victory in round six.
He had announced himself onto the global stage with a bang!
THE MEXICAN WARS
Marco Antonio Barrera… Erik Morales… Juan Manuel Marquez…
These three Mexican ‘Hall of fame’ legends (through victories, defeats and draws!) helped to shape and polish not only the ring craft and technique, but the status of the man who would go on to dominate world boxing during a period which saw him come face to face with them on a total of seven occasions (a further two bouts against Juan Manuel Marquez were fought at Welterweight later on).
The type of resume which is rarely seen in the modern game and is only usually reserved for fighters of a bygone era!
Manny also challenged and beat David Diaz for the WBC Lightweight Championship.
- Marco Antonio Barrera (November 03, Win, TKO11)
- Juan Manuel Marquez (May 04, Draw, SD12)
- Erik Morales (March 05, Loss, UD12)
- Erik Morales (January 06, Win, TKO10)
- Erik Morales (November 06, Win, KO3)
- Marco Antonio Barrera (October 07, Win, UD12)
- Juan Manuel Marquez (March 08, Win, SD12)
- Juan Manuel Marquez (November 11, Win, MD12)
- Juan Manuel Marquez (December 12, Loss, KO6)
“Manny taking on Jessie Vargas in November 2016”
JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ
The kryptonite to Manny’s ‘Superman’, probably the first fighter that will always be remembered when people mention the legacy of Manny Pacquiao in decades to come. These two warriors went ‘at it’ on a total of four occasions, every single one of them being a brutal display of boxing mastery, sheer will and determination and usually a bloody ending! A total of seven knock-downs (including three in favour of Manny in an unbelievable round one of their first encounter) over the duration of forty-two rounds culminated in perhaps the most poignant and devastating moment in the Pac-Man’s career as he lay motionless, face down on the canvas of the MGM Grand ring having just taken a counter right hand on the bell which knocked him out cold.
Many wondered if such a vicious defeat would ever see Manny in a boxing ring again, especially as this was a second defeat on the spin (albeit the first one a hugely controversial points loss decision to Timothy Bradley), but in true legendary style, he rose again to become a champion!
After a ‘comeback’ victory against Brandon Rios in Macau, Manny then avenged his previous loss to the now established and confident Bradley with a performance that truly rolled back the years in reclaiming the WBO Welterweight crown (a title with which he seemingly had a flirting love affair with during his mid to late career) via a twelve round unanimous points victory. One more victory against the American nicknamed ‘Desert Storm’ put a cap on an unlikely trilogy and sent Manny into retirement before a return to the ring to face Jessie Vargas (November 2016, Win, UD12) and then Australia’s Jeff Horn in front of a fifty thousand plus outdoor crowd in Brisbane, Australia… where Manny received his seventh career loss and gave up his WBO title.
FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
‘What might have been’ is the emotion many boxing fans may rest upon when you mention the names of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the same sentence forever more.
The two biggest names in the sport in this era, their careers were finally at a meeting point when Pacquiao started to rise through the weight divisions in the late 2000’s.
The pair, both in their perceived prime’s (although Mayweather had a small period of ‘retirement’) should have served up one of boxing history’s best and biggest rivalries in the ring… However, as mentioned previously, one reason or another always seemed to push the fight further from the minds of the fans… but we never lost hope, right?!
On May 2nd, 2015 the long-awaited ‘Fight of the Century’ took place in Las Vegas, breaking all previous PPV box office records as it was screened in the U.S. via HBO and Showtime dual network broadcasting (not since Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson in 2002 had this been done!).
Both fighters, now in the twilight of their careers went through months and months of tough negotiation, but finally met in the squared-circle with Mayweather taking a unanimous points victory to become the undisputed Welterweight champion of the world in what was a somewhat tepid affair, Manny evidently hampered by a shoulder problem that he later revealed he had sustained during his training camp.
Manny Pacquiao will certainly be assured of his place in boxing’s hall of fame when he decides to call it a day and is a great example of how to keep yourself in great condition, even for someone approaching his 40’s, which comes through plenty of drive, determination, dedication and of course his rigorous strength and conditioning regimes over the years.
A courageous and likeable champion, Manny is now also in the infancy of a political career, where he serves as a senator to the people of the country he has represented and projected onto a global stage for near on 25 years.
A devout Christian, husband and father to five children, his energy never seems to wane whatever he turns his hand to… We will wait and see what the next chapter in the life of the ‘Pac-Man’ brings.
A special ‘thank you’ to Wendell Rupert Alinea (official photographer of Manny Pacquiao) for the supply of pictures.