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Manny Pacquiao and suspicious minds

Boxing: Pacquiao vs Thurman
Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports
After beating Keith Thurman last weekend, Manny Pacquiao’s legend gathers pace but so do the accusations being aimed at him, writes Matt Christie

MANNY PACQUIAO wins again. Another young buck defeated, another astonishing victory to add to his long list of astonishing victories and, at the ripe old age of 40, another performance worthy of true greatness.

For some, though, it’s all a little too astonishing. The more the Filipino defies logic, the older he gets while beating fighters like Keith Thurman, then the harder it becomes for the cynics to accept that “Pac Man”, who started his professional boxing career 24 years ago as a malnourished light-flyweight, is a simply a force of nature. He’s collected world titles all the way up to super-welterweight while gathering speed and increasing his muscle mass and power. Therefore, say those cynics, he must have had help in the form of performance enhancing drugs.

The suspicions surrounding Pacquiao have been common since his peak, when he soared to welterweight and savaged the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. His form was awe-inspiring and his victories utterly devastating. A payment of $114,000 was made to Pacquiao in 2012 after he filed a lawsuit against Floyd Mayweather when the American accused the Filipino of cheating.

Still the accusations came as Pacquiao, approaching his mid-30s, stopped knocking people out, he lost to Juan Manuel Marquez and his form slipped from its highest heights. His critics suggested that Manny, afraid of getting caught, had stopped taking drugs and was no longer the force of before. Not exactly watertight stuff.  

We can point to the testing procedures and pick huge holes in the process. We must continue to demand that the authorities unite to introduce the kind of year-round random testing capable of ending this kind of conjecture. Particularly in a sporting world where drug-use is rife and the cheaters go to great lengths to avoid being caught. But while doing all that we must also remember that Pacquiao has never been caught despite taking countless tests. Isn’t it something of a shame that our sport can’t unite to toast a living, breathing, fighting legend in a similar way that the tennis world all hailed Roger Federer’s recent exploits at Wimbledon?

Manny Pacquiao
Pacquiao has been a model pro for 24 years (Esther Lin/Showtime)

In truth, the suspicion aimed at Manny is an admission that boxing, with its myriad governors and loopholes and lawlessness, is broken. Therefore, catching and punishing someone of Pacquiao’s standing for cheating would prove that those in power are least willing to try and fix it.

Again, it’s all a little unfair on Pacquiao. Let’s not make him the scapegoat for a widespread problem when there’s no evidence to suggest he’s involved. He’s never had to blame contaminated meat or been caught with an intravenous drip in his arm shortly after a weigh-in. He’s never wished an opponent dead or damaged the sport’s reputation in any way. For now – in the aftermath of another stunning victory – let’s do the right thing by Pacquiao and give him his dues.

Because if we examine only the facts at hand, if we look at his supreme accomplishments and the fighters he has beaten, if we recognise the fearlessness he’s exhibited when testing himself against bigger and younger adversaries, then the only conclusion to draw is that Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest of them all.


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  • Manny has given me more pleasure than any other boxer. Sure there is huge problems with drugs in boxing but there is simply to much money involved. (Canelo)

  • Dexaford, depomedral, phenalbutozone, BTZs, steroids, amino acids – I took them all in the 70s & 80s. We are all entitled to our opinion but having played professional & semi professional sport for 16 years & a sports journo for 40, Pacquiao doesn’t have the look to me – & I can usually pick them.

    • Wow that’s so convincing, you’ve clearly missed your vocation as VADA would kill to have staff with your super-powers.
      I don’t have any super-powers so I can’t tell what drugs you’re on.

  • People are quick to point the finger, Manny is a champion. He was at the crossroads when Horn beat him, Roach read him the riot act. They didn’t speak for a year. Manny decided he still wanted to fight & has worked his bum off, he is fitter than he has ever been. I have never taken recreational drugs in my life but I know plenty about PEDs. There are signs; I believe Manny is clean. The knockers need to give him credit for what he is – a true champion.

    • You’ve clearly lost all objectivity because this is Manny. I’ve been a Manny fan for years too, but there comes a point when the repeated lack of drug testing can no longer be ignored. Saying that Manny doesn’t have “the look” of a PED user convinces no one – if Manny is really clean he can easily sign up for 365 x 24/7 VADA testing to silence the critics. He can easily afford it and it’s tax deductible anyway, he has no excuse.

  • Absolute tosh – Mayweather Jr never failed a drug test but he paid ten times as much as any other fighter to the USADA for the same drug testing – I wonder why?

    Manny has had plenty of praise throughout his career however his attitude to drug testing has been disappointing and suspicious. He produced a poor performance after being drug tested for the Mayweather fight and rightly or wrongly that has fuelled suspicions.

    Now Manny hasn’t been drug tested in at least his last 3 fights and so of course many are suspicious of a 40 yr old performing at such a high level – but he could silence most of the criticism today by signing up with VADA for 365 x 24/7 random testing – the cost is even tax deductible now.

    I would prefer all boxing journalists to be at the forefront of the push for more extensive drug testing in boxing rather than burying their heads in the sand.

    • Poor performance against Floyd! He went in with an injured shoulder; the fight should have been postponed but Manny still fought. Many thought he won in a close fight against a fighter never officially beaten in Vegas. I wouldn’t call that a poor performance.

      • IMO you are probably in a small minority who think Manny actually won the Mayweather Jr fight. It WAS a poor performance from Manny and Mayweather comfortably out-boxed him in most of the rounds.

        You are entitled to believe Manny’s excuse of having an injured shoulder but as I’ve experienced all kinds of shoulder injury I choose not to. However it would be his own fault for fighting injured anyway.

        BTW I’m NOT a Mayweather Jr fan – Mayweather should have been fined and suspended for his use of an intravenous drip to rehydrate after the weigh-in.


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