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SPORTS SHORTS 230: THANK YOU FOR THE BOXING, MANNY PACQUIAO (PART II)


PhilBoxing.com




Manny Pacquiao was born in Kibawe, a 2nd class municipality in the province of Bukidnon. He was first introduced to boxing at the age of 12 years by his maternal uncle Sardo Mejia. Pacquiao said watching Mike Tyson defeated by James "Buster" Douglas on TV in 1990 is a great experience that changed his life forever.

* * *

His interest in combat sports was also motivated by his martial arts idol Bruce Lee and "The Greatest" boxer Muhammad Ali. Mejia began training his nephew in a makeshift home gym.

* * *

After 6 months of training, Pacquiao joined the boxing at the park tournaments in General Santos. Then he boxed in other cities outside GenSan to face more experienced opponents.

* * *

"Many of you know me as a legendary boxer, and I'm proud of that," Pacquiao was quoted by China Daily. "However, that journey was not always easy."

* * *

"When I was younger, I became a fighter because I had to survive. I had nothing. I had no one to depend on except myself. I realized that boxing was something I was good at, and I trained hard so that I could keep myself and my family alive," he added.

* * *

At the age of 14, Pacquiao transferred to Manila and lived for sometime on the streets. He was picked up for the Philippine national amateur boxing team and this time his room and food were paid for by the government. Pacquiao reportedly acquired 60 wins and 4 losses as an amateur fighter.

* * *

By age 15, he was considered the top prospect in southern Philippines. In 1995, at the age of 16, he made his professional boxing debut in the junior flyweight division.

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The death of a young rising boxer and his close friend, Eugene Barutag, inspired Pacquiao to pursue a professional boxing career at a very young age.

* * *

Pacquiao turned professional when he was just 16 years old, a height of 4'11'' and weighed 98 pounds, which is 7 pounds lighter than the minimumweight division. He disclosed later to American reporters that he added weights in his pockets to make the 105-pound weight limit.

* * *

His early light flyweight division fights were aired over Vintage Sports' Blow by Blow. His professional debut was a four-rounder against Edmund "Enting" Ignacio on January 22, 1995 at Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. He earned P75 for his first pro fight.

* * *

Weighing only 106 pounds, Pacquiao won via unanimous decision, becoming the new boxing star. Pacquiao became popular instantly due to his aggressive fighting style, unique dyed hair and his easy-to-remember surname.

* * *

Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach has been with Manny Pacquiao’s greatest fights. The 42-year-old Pacquiao has been under Roach’s tutelage since 2001 with the two forming one of the best partnerships in the sport for two decades.

* * *

Pacquiao paid tribute to his longtime trainer Freddie Roach, whom he described as “the best trainer in the world.” Roach, the Hall of Fame trainer, celebrated his 60th birthday that time.

* * *

Roach responded by also showing his appreciation to his most prized and celebrated fighter. The Pacquiao and Roach relationship goes a long way back. Roach first trained Pacquiao in 2001 against South African champion Lehlo Ledwaba for the IBF super bantamweight title.

* * *

Freddie Roach said, “I remember when he [Manny Pacquiao] walked into the gym one day and he said I hit you pretty good on the mitts and he says, can we try it. And I said yeah let’s go and we went up to the ring and did a run. One round of mitts and he went over to his people and said, ‘I think we have a new trainer and I said I think I have a world champion on my hands.”

* * *

Despite fighting on short notice in his US debut, the underdog Pacquiao stopped Ledwaba in the sixth round with a performance considered as the best of his colorful and illustrious career.

* * *

More than twenty years later, the two partners remained as a formidable force with Pacquiao still among the biggest draws in the sport. Roach has handled countless world champions throughout his Hall of Fame career as trainer.

* * *

But of all the fighters that have been under his direction, Manny Pacquiao comes out the best. Roach greeted Pacquiao the utmost acclamation as the Filipino boxing icon talked about retirement after being upset by Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas.

* * *

“I said to him, ‘You are the greatest,’” Roach wrote on Twitter Tuesday with a photo of him and his most prized ward in a tight hug.

* * *

"When I realized I had the makings of a world-class boxer, I felt motivated to fight for another cause," said Pacquiao.

* * *

"I wanted to become the best Filipino fighter in order to leave a legacy for my countrymen, so that the whole world would know that we Filipinos can excel in a sport that doesn't just depend on brute strength, but on strategy and quick thinking."

* * *

Pacquiao first fought professionally at age 16 years and 63 days beating Edmund Enting Ignacio by a four round unanimous decision on January 22, 1995. He had his last fight losing to Yordenis Ugas by unanimous decision on August 21, 2021 at age 42 years and 227 days.

* * *

Officially his pro boxing career spans a period of 26 years and 164 days. Aside from the Philippines and United States, he also fought in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Macau and Australia.

* * *

Senator Manny Pacquiao was the first candidate to file a certificate of candidacy (COC) for president at the Sofitel Harbor Garden Tents in Pasay City on Friday. The senator also was accompanied by his running mate, former Manila mayor and Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza.



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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