Way back in 2009 or 2010, when the whole “Mayweather vs. Pacquiao” controversy was raging throughout the online Universo Pugilistico, yours truly was voted “Pacquiao Hater #1” by the old school Pacland message board.
I really, really did NOT “hate” Manny, of course, but I could see where Manny’s rabid, loyal fanbase– in the absolute prime of its power– might think that.
I was viewed as being on Mayweather’s “side” of the debate regarding who was at fault for this mega-fight not happening. In reality, my stance was more of an anti-Bob Arum one than an anti-Pacquiao one. I felt that Pacquiao’s then-promoter was intentionally keeping the big fight from happening and trying to pin all the blame on a clueless Mayweather. In my opinion, Arum was using the buzz from that big Mayweather fight to help load his pockets from safer in-house Top Rank fights for Pacquiao. I still believe that, by the way.
Along the way, I took plenty of swipes at Arum and at the fawning pro-Pacquiao media that doggedly insisted on telling only one side of this story– Manny’s side.
But those who took some time to talk to me learned how much I respected Pacquiao and how much I considered his fights “must see TV.” As a matter of fact, I still have some good Filipino friends– who started out as rabid anti-Magno comment section hecklers– that I made in that stretch of time.
Anyway, in honor of Manny’s announced retirement, I thought I’d share my personal list of favorite Manny Pacquiao moments from his truly legendary career. I could make this list virtually endless, but I’ll limit myself to just five:
Manny Pacquiao ARRIVES
Pacquiao was a complete unknown to me when he was penciled in against Mexican star Marco Antonio Barrera back in November of 2003. The image of a smiling Pacquiao entering the ring was offset by the ferocity with which he fought. Barrera battled back valiantly, but he was clearly not prepared for the buzzsaw he had run into. The Mexican’s corner stopped the beating in the eleventh round and the Filipino firmly established his place on the world scene.
Pacquiao Delivers Karma to Margarito
Not too long before this bout, Mexican banger Antonio Margarito had his license revoked by the California State Athletic Commission for trying to wear doctored knuckle pads to the ring in his bout with Shane Mosley. Amid massive controversy (and fierce complaining from me), Margarito was given the green light to fight Manny Pacquiao in weak-commissioned Texas. In a karma-bringing 2010 beating, Pacquiao battered Margarito brutally, causing an eye injury that would essentially lead to the end of the Mexican’s high-end, main stage career for good.
Pacquiao Stops Cotto, Make Me Look Like A Genius
While in the midst of me being called a hater and enemy of all things Pacquiao, I was one of the very few media voices telling the world that Manny would have a relatively easy time with the ferocious Puerto Rican battler, Miguel Cotto. Although most of my colleagues were talking about how Cotto may break Manny and how Manny had now bitten off more than he could chew, I was talking about how this pairing was close to being a stylistic mismatch in Manny’s favor. My official prediction was late stoppage for Pacquiao. Manny made me look good with an all-around dominant performance that culminated in a twelfth-round TKO of Cotto.
Pacquiao-Marquez…Every Bit of It
Even though I didn’t necessarily agree with all of the three sets of scorecards issued, I loved every bit of this 4-fight rivalry. From the Marquez-dropped-three-times-in-the-first-round draw in 2004 to the brutal sixth-round knockout of Pacquiao in 2012’s fight number 4, I loved it all. You could not find two more skilled, talented, tenacious fighters whose styles blended more perfectly. Put these fights in a time capsule and make them must-watch material for future generations of fight fans.
Pacquiao Stays “Elite”
This is another selfish one. While the entirety of the boxing media was writing Pacquiao off after his dubious decision loss to Jeff Horn in 2017 and writing weepy “Please Retire, Manny” articles, I was holding firm that he was still an elite-level welterweight with a lot left in the tank. Pacquiao ultimately proved me right when he decisioned top-3 welterweight Keith Thurman in 2019. It wasn’t anywhere near his best or most explosive ring performance, but Manny proved that, even at 40 years of age, he still deserved to be ranked among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He also proved that I was right and these other media people are wrong.