Being a Filipino-American, it’s some-what bias for me to say that Manny Pacquiao is the greatest ever. But I will still try and make an argument for it, because he truly is. If you choose to argue, that’s fine … but forgive me, I am just proud of what Manny has accomplished. He is an inspiration to us all.
Let’s start with his body of work. 7 titles in 7 different weight-classes. No one in the illustrious history of boxing could say they’ve done that … other than the great Manny Pacquiao. He’s taken on the best the business offers in its current state, and he’s defeated them all. Marquez, Morales, De La Hoya, Hatton, and now Miguel Cotto. Saturday night, Round 1, Cotto looked like he was going to punish Pacquiao for his continuous climbing in weight-class. Unfortunately for Cotto, weight, and even reach isn’t quite as important as speed. And no one matches Pacquiao’s speed. No one.
Aside from Speed, there’s power. Aside from power, there’s foot-work. And if you take all these natural tools away from Pacquiao, he still has the greatest weapon of all … heart. Pacquiao has climbed up in weight-class more frequently than Paris Hilton changes BFF’s – but every time he jumps into the lion’s den, he leaves smelling like roses … with his legend growing bigger, even too big for Vegas to hold. Cotto was no push-over, and even true Pacquiao fans were worried leading into the fight. I asked myself, “Has Pacquiao finally bit off more than he could chew?” And like every fight prior to the next, he exceeds expectations, no matter how great.
Cotto landed some punches, and landed them hard. At first glance, it seemed as if Pacquiao was affected, and taken back by those punches. But then Pacquiao punches his gloves together and hits himself. As if to say, “Nice, but not enough for me.” He then proceeds to go on a flurry of tactical, and amazingly timed punches, combinations, or even one-hitter-quitters that revitalize your faith in him. He’s almost like the true version of Hulk Hogan. When Pacquiao gets hit, he simply “Hulk’s” up … and you should know better than to hit Hulk Hogan while he’s “Hulking” up. It only makes him stronger. The same for Manny.
After the titillating first four rounds, Pacquiao took control. Cotto, built by the media as a tough, never-back-down type of fighter with punches to pack … which is true, he is … but Pacquiao turned Cotto into track-star. Cotto simply ran away. The bigger, stronger man … ran away.
Pacquiao owes a tremendous amount of his success to his superb staff, specifically Freddie Roach. He took Pacquiao from a talented fighter, to a perfect fighter. Because of Roach, Pacquiao is the total package. He learns, and develops so quickly … like a machine. Within a five-year span, has anyone in the history of boxing improved so much? The answer is no. The scary part, he probably has room for improvement. What impressed me tonight … his granite chin. He took some punches, and when the bell sounded to end a round … he was walking back to his corner smiling.
Now, Pacquiao shares something in common with Muhammad Ali – he fights for more than himself. No need to go over what Ali stood for. We all know the story of what makes this man, more than a man, but a living legend. It was more than just boxing for Ali. The same for Pacquiao. Pacquiao fights with an entire nation behind him. Leaning on him. He is all that is well with my country-men. Terrorists in the Mindanao region of the Philippines call a cease-fire when ever Pacquiao fights. Kidnappers freed a priest last night, so they could watch Pacquiao fight. And in a time of need, after the Philippines just went through perhaps one of the worse national disasters of all time, they turn to Pacquiao for strength. Imagine the type of pressure that brings. A lot of these American fighters will never bear this burden. But for Manny, it’s what makes him a hero. It’s what makes him legendary, and it’s why he’s the greatest.
For most of you, he is high up on your rankings … but if Mayweather ever stops ducking him … he’ll have another chance to prove himself worthy the top spot. For now I go back to this … 7 titles, 7 divisions. Name another.