HE’S moved up effortlessly through the weights, from flyweight to welterweight, inflicting damage and famous defeats at every stop along the way.
Filipino congressman Manny Pacquiao is an idol to millions around the world and was world-class after defeating the likes of Lehlo Ledwaba and Emmanuel Lucero. But he hit the big time when he battered Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera to defeat in 11 rounds in Texas in 2003 only to run into his nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez. Despite being dropped three times in round one, future Hall of Famer Marquez somehow rallied to finish all square by the end.
Still, Manny went on to win two fights of a trilogy with Barerra’s great rival, Erik Morales. After sharing two thrillers, Pacquiao blew Morales away in three rounds to settle the trilogy. He edged Marquez in the rematch at super-featherweight by a point – a knockdown proving decisive – and then came his astonishing run that saw him tear through a host of bigger men.
He stepped up to lightweight to dramatically knock out David Diaz in nine rounds for the WBC lightweight crown and then pulled off a huge shock when he battered the far bigger Oscar De La Hoya into an eighth-round defeat and into retirement.
De La Hoya was criticised for taking the fight against a much smaller man and some questioned the sanity of Pacquiao and his promoter, Bob Arum, for stepping up two weight classes.
But De La Hoya could not do anything with the Filipino, who swarmed in and out and produced a tremendous shock in the bowels of the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip.
Then, back at light-welterweight he flattened Ricky Hatton in just two rounds, the Englishman tipping dramatically face-first into the canvas, and then Pacquiao dismantled Miguel Cotto in 12 rounds in a fight that was fascinating for four rounds untilPacquiao went through the gears and caused the referee to intervene shortly after the last round had begun.Manny dominated Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley (winning all three on points over 12 rounds) but the wheels so nearly came off when Marquez tempted him back into the ring for a third time. In another nip and tuck affair, which many felt the Mexican had yet again done enough to defeat Pacquiao, the underdog came out on the wrong end of another razor-thin decision.
Pacquiao has spent most of his best years with promoter Arum and trainer Freddie Roach in his corner.
His relationship with Roach is more father-son than pupil-trainer and the images of Roach and Pacquiao together, whether it’s in Freddie’s Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles or in training camp in the Philippines, have become some of the most iconic of the modern era.
The bespectacled former fighter and the Filipino phenom have made an unlikely alliance but trainer, master tactician and the man with the game plans and the fighter they call “Pacman” combined to lead the pound-for-pound ratings alongside the biggest name he has faced, Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
Mayweather famously outpointed Pacquiao in May this year in the contest dubbed ‘The Fight of the Century’. However, it turned into a hugely disappointing and dull affair when Pacquiao was comfortably outboxed by Mayweather. Financially it broke all records, but did nothing to enhance the reputations of either fighter.
Pacquiao has thrilled fans the world over with his all-action style and he has captured the imagination of his countrymen, who worship the man who has claimed some form of title recognition in an incredible eight weight divisions.
They say crime stops in the Philippines when he fights as everyone comes together to watch him in action, and it’s then when the punishment – in the ring – begins.
THE BOGEY MAN
The one fighter Pacquiao has always had trouble with is Juan-Manuel Marquez. In a 2011 interview with Boxing News, Roach said: “In the gym I can get Manny to do the right things but in the fight something happens where Marquez dictates the pace and Manny moves in to his right hand. For some reason he falls into that trap and I can’t get it across to Manny.”
Born December 17, 1978 in Bukidnon, Philippines Wins 54 Knockouts 38 Losses 3 Draws 2 Best win Oscar De La Hoya w rtd 8 Worst loss Floyd Mayweather l pts 12 Pros Punching power, hand speed, conditioning Cons Likes to stand and trade, spends time on the ropes