2008-09 Manny Pacquiao: The Ultimate PacMan (First of Two Parts)
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Wed, 06 Oct 2021
Manny Pacquiao recently retired from boxing after more than 26 years of fighting spanning four decades (90s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s) equaling the feat of the Panamanian All Time Great Roberto Duran.
Pacquiao hang up his gloves not only as a sure-fire future first ballot Hall of Famer but one of the very few fighters in the last thirty years to be considered as All Time Greats.
That is due to his long and extensive career during which he established his record as the first and only fighter to win eight world boxing championships in as many weight divisions.
But to this writer who had followed Pacquiao since the late 90s, the defining moments of his Hall of Fame and highly probable ATG career were his outstanding performance in 2008 and 2009, a two year period where he emerged unbeaten in five fights against five great fighters including four then future Hall of Famers with a combined record of 200 wins, 11 losses and 1 draw among them.
His string of victories during that two year span which included four by stoppage/knockout won him consecutive honors as Fighter of the Year to go with an earlier FOTY in 2006, thereby also making him the run away Fighter of the Decade winner for 2000-2009.
Pacquiao's Rampage in 2008
Pacquiao started 2008 all ready to move up to the lightweights as he had begun having some problems making the limit at 130 lbs. despite previous victories over Erik Morales (twice via stoppage), Jorge Solis (KO), Velasquez (TKO), Oscar Larios (UD) and former TKO victim at featherweight Marco Antonio Barrera (UD).
But the World Boxing Council (WBC) ordered then champion Juan Manuel Marquez whom he had fought to draw in an IBF world featherweight title fight in 2004, to defend the WBC super featherweight title against him. So Manny had to defer his plans to move up and fight one more time at 130 against Marquez with the latter's WBC crown on the line.
The fight was held on March 15, 2008 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada before a sell-out crowd. The fight was extremely close with the two elite super featherweights delivering the goods, trading flurry after flurry for 12 riveting rounds. The difference was the knockdown scored late in the third round and Manny won by split decision.
Pacquiao drops Marquez in their second meeting that saw Pacquiao winning by split decision.
Shortly later, Manny challenged WBC world lightweight champion David Diaz who had in an earlier defense defeated Erik Morales on points.
Back in the Philippines, there were fears and apprehensions that Manny in his move from 130 to 135 lbs (his second biggest since 2001 when he jumped 10 pounds from flyweight to super bantamweight which was truly necessary) and immediate challenge of Diaz might result into another Flash Elorde-Carlos Ortiz fiasco. The comparison was compelling: Manny like Elorde was at that point a blow-up featherweight up against a sawn up welterweight fighting as lightweight as Diaz and Ortiz actually were.
But Manny proved the worries were unfounded when he entered the ring for the fight against Diaz on June 28, 2008 at the same Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
Pacquiao finishes Diaz in the 9th round.
Pacquiao was stonger and faster than Diaz, pounding him with big punches from the first round on. Early in the bout, Pacquiao would step in and rip off three and four punch combinations at a time. He cut the nose of Diaz in the second round and a few rounds later he opened a gash above the right eye of Diaz, turning the fight into a bloody affair. The cut was bad enough to prompt the referee to have the doctor look at it twice during the fight. Pacquiao hurt Diaz with an uppercut in round eight and in the ninth round, a jab followed by a left hand that Diaz never saw coming, sent him down face first to the mat and the referee jumped in to stop the action. Pacquiao puts his name in the history books as the only Asian fighter to win four major titles in four weight classes.
Manny's romp versus Mexican fighters since 2003 drew the attention, and ire, of no less than Oscar De La Hoya, an American with proud Mexican heritage who at that time was already a six division world champion himself having rose up from super featherweight (130) to middleweight (160) after winning USA's lone gold in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as a lightweight.
Despite already aged and past his prime, De La Hoya had considerable size and power advantage over Manny, his last memorable fight bring against Bernard Hopkins where he lost in a world middleweight unification by body shot stoppage.
Hoping to cash in for the last time in a sort of passing the torch fight with the emerging Filipino boxing superstar, De La Hoya agreed to a catchweight match at the welterweight limit of 147 in a bout he himself would promote under an onerous 85:15 split in purse and total revenue. Though Bob Arum was hesitant, Manny agreed to the deal grabbing the opportunity to not only advance his career and name as well as bring honor to his country while earning his largest fight take.
Manny's intuition proved correct as the fight generated the then second largest Pay Per View haul involving De La Hoya in terms of number (1.25 million buys) and actual revenue ($70 million). Pacquiao reportedly earned $11 million plus.
More than that, Manny established himself firmly as boxing's newest undisputed superstar by beating Oscar into submission after eight rounds.
Wiki account of the super fight goes:
The quicker Pacquiao got off to a strong start, connecting with clean straight left leads and continually beat De La Hoya to the punch. Oscar got on track a bit in round five landing one good flurry, but Pacquiao regained command in the sixth round and mercilessly battered De La Hoya on the ropes in the seventh round. De La Hoya's left eye was swelling shut. It was again all Pacquiao in round eight and De La Hoya's corner stopped the fight after the eighth round.
Pacquiao ended 2008 as the unanimous choice as Fighter of the Year.
To be continued.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.
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