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List of Articles by Eddie Alinea


 

Pacman is PSA `Athlete of the Decade’

By Eddie Alinea
PhilBoxing.com
11 Jan 2010



No less than three-time ``Trainer of the Year’’ awardee Freddie Roach saw this coming when, during the first time Manny Pacquiao worked the mitts with him nine years ago, he foresaw the tiny Filipino fighter to win a world championship someday.

He was not mistaken although the now Filipino ring hero did more than that by bringing home not only a world crown but seven in the next nine years of their partnership.

“I predicted him to become a world champion,” Roach said, recalling his first meeting with the boxing icon early in 2001 at the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles. “I never thought he’ll be this great.”

Indeed, the former bread vendor and construction worker has gone beyond anybody’s expectations, defying odds that came his way to emerge a boxing superstar starting with a stunning sixth-round technical knockout of fearsome South African Lehlo Ledwaba to win the International Boxing Federation super-bantamweight title in addition to the flyweight diadem he won earlier in his career.

That unexpected triumph started the now 31-year-old General Santos City native’s meteoric rise to fame and riches as he later would be recognized as the sweet science’s best pound-for-pound boxer, the only man ever to win seven world titles in as many weight classes (flyweight, super-bantamweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight), and easily, among the few who made a lasting imprint in a sport teeming with stars and heroes.

Pacquiao, father of four with wife Jinkee, indeed, has come a long way from being a struggling, skinny 17-year old teener who first fought as a pro in the lowliest 109-pound division in the mid-90s, to the electrifying sport icon who has become the face of boxing today.

And the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) is not one to deny Pacquiao of his achievements that brought positive recognition to his embattled country by conferring him the honor ``Athlete of the Decade’’ he will be receiving during its traditional annual Awards Night set February 27.

Pacquiao has been named PSA Athlete of the Year five times this decade – from 2002 to 2004, then in 2006 and 2008.

Already elevated by the country’s oldest media organization to the Hall of Fame last year, Pacquiao is no longer eligible for the coveted Athlete of the Year award, but remains a major part of the year’s top sports achievers’ list on account of his Hall of Fame exploits in the first 10 years of the new century.

Since that upset title-victory over Ledwaba in his first fight on American soil, Pacquiao has gobbled up every opposition that came his way in the last decade – 21 of them under the guidance of Roach.

In that stretch, the Filipino boxing champion won 26 of his 27 fights – 21 of them coming by way of knockout, while the rest of them by decision.

Mexican great Eric Morales was the lone warrior to survive the devastating fists of Pacquiao (50-3, 38 KOs), carving out a close unanimous decision triumph in the first of their classic trilogy in 2005.

Morales is one of six future Hall of Fame fighters Pacquiao has faced during the period that also included Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.

In 10 fights against all these boxing greats, the Filipino boxing icon won eight – two against Morales and Barrera – drew once (Marquez in 2004) and lost once.

In less than two-years, Pacquiao won all of his bouts in five different weight divisions, beginning with Marquez in the super bantam category, Diaz in lightweight, De La Hoya and Hatton in junior-welterweight and Cotto in welterweight class.

His recent 12th round stoppage of Cotto, one among the long line of great fighters produced by Puerto Rico, to win the World Boxing Organization 147-pound crown, catapulted him further into the annals of boxing as one of its greatest fighters ever.

(Eddie G. Alinea’s articles appear in the Philippine Gazette)


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