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10 most riveting Pacman fights


PhilBoxing.com




Here’s a tough one. What would you consider to be the 10 best Manny Pacquiao fights in his ring career? There’s surely a lot to choose from. He logged a total of 72 bouts, winning 62, losing eight and drawing twice from 1995 to 2021. The losses on points to Jeff Horn, Floyd Mayweather and Tim Bradley were disputed but there’s no point debating who really deserved to win because history is what it is. Pacquiao beat Bradley decisively twice after their first meeting and Mayweather wouldn’t agree to a rematch. As for Horn, the Australian got a lift not only from the judges but also referee Mark Nelson who allowed him to elbow, butt and roughhouse without a single warning.

My list:



1. Chatchai Sasakul, Dec. 4, 1998, Tonsuk College Ground, Phuttamonthon, Thailand. Pacquiao trailed in the three
judges scorecards, 68-65, 70-64, 69-64 when in the eighth round, he cracked a left hook on the Thai’s jaw, sending the defending WBC flyweight champion down for the full count. Chatchai tried to get up but couldn’t as his legs wouldn’t budge and he cried in frustration. It was Pacquiao’s first world title and he won before a hostile crowd in an outdoor makeshift arena.



2. Lehlo Ledwaba, June 23, 2001, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas. This was Pacquiao’s US debut and he took the fight on two weeks notice after original challenger Enrique Sanchez backed out because of a training injury. The fight was in the undercard of the main event between Oscar de la Hoya and Javier Castillejo. Pacquiao bloodied Ledwaba’s nose in the first round and decked the defending IBF superbantamweight titlist thrice before referee Joe Cortez stopped it at 0:59 of the sixth with the Filipino ahead on three identical scorecards, 50-44. Pacquiao pocketed his second world crown.



3. Marco Antonio Barrera, Nov. 15, 2003, Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas. Referee Laurence Cole ruled a knockdown on Pacquiao when it was clearly a slip in the first round but the Filipino shrugged it off and proceeded to floor Barrera in the third and 11th. The Mexican was defenseless against the ropes when his trainer Rudy Perez threw in the towel, prompting Cole to wave it off at 2:56 of the 11th. Pacquiao led, 97-90 twice, 97-89, at the time of the stoppage. The win was for the Ring Magazine and “people’s” world featherweight championship.



4. Erik Morales, Nov. 18, 2006, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas. It was a rubber match as Morales won their first encounter on points and Pacquiao evened it up with a 10th round TKO. The climax of the trilogy was emphatic as Pacquiao decked Morales once in the second round and twice in the third before the Mexican looked at his father Jose in his corner, shaking his head to signal surrender on a knee. Pacquiao landed 94 punches, including 83 power shots, to Morales’ 44 to dominate the action from start to finish. The fight was for the WBC International superfeatherweight belt.



5. Oscar de la Hoya, Dec. 6, 2008, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas. No title was at stake even as promoters called it a Dream Match with a catchweight of 145 pounds. De la Hoya scaled 145 and Pacquiao, 142. From the onset, Pacquiao dictated the tempo, dizzying the Golden Boy with a variety of punches. De la Hoya had no answer for Pacquiao’s aggressiveness, quickness and artillery. At the end of the eighth round, his left eye was almost swollen shut and he called an end to the carnage on his stool. Pacquiao was ahead on the three scorecards, 79-72, 80-71 twice when the curtains fell. De la Hoya retired after the massacre.



6. Ricky Hatton, May 2, 2009, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas. The English Hitman came out smoking with bad intentions but Pacquiao easily punctured his defense to score two knockdowns in the first round. Hatton went straight at Pacquiao to open the second canto and paid a hefty price for the senseless attack. Pacquiao landed a picture-perfect left hook that sent Hatton flat on his back. Referee Kenny Bayless didn’t bother to count and quickly waved in the ringside physician. Pacquiao wrested the IBO lightwelterweight crown with the KO at 2:59 of the second round.



7. Miguel Cotto, Nov. 14, 2009, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas. The three judges gave Cotto the first round as he controlled the action in the center of the ring. Pacquiao made a critical adjustment in the next stanza, inviting the Puerto Rican to punch away with his back on the ropes. The clever Ali-type tactic brought Cotto away from the middle of the ring and allowed Pacquiao to counter from short range. In the third, Pacquiao decked Cotto who went down again in the fourth. Referee Kenny Bayless stepped in at 0:55 of the 12th to save a defenseless Cotto from more punishment. Pacquiao won the WBO welterweight crown.



8. Antonio Margarito, Nov. 13, 2010, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas. This was for the vacant WBC superwelterweight title with a catchweight of 150 pounds. Margarito scaled 150 and Pacquiao, 144 1/2. When the bell rang, Margarito had ballooned to 165 while Pacquiao went up to 147. The bigger, longer and heavier Margarito was an easy target for Pacquiao who was much quicker and smarter. It was a one-sided affair between David and Goliath as at least twice, Pacquiao looked at referee Laurence Cole, wondering why he wouldn’t stop the massacre. It went the distance with the scores 120-108, 118-110 and 119-109. Margarito wound up with a fractured orbital bone.



9. Timothy Bradley, April 9, 2016, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Bradley won their first meeting via a controversial split decision then Pacquiao took the rematch on a unanimous verdict. The rubber match settled the dispute once and for all. Pacquiao floored Bradley in rounds seven and nine to win the decision on identical 116-110 scores. It was for the vacant WBO International welterweight crown.



10. Keith Thurman, July 20, 2019, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas. Pacquiao held the WBA “regular” welterweight title while the unbeaten Thurman was the WBA “super” champion so this was a showdown to unify recognition. Pacquiao set the tone by flooring Thurman in the first round but needed a rally down the stretch to seal the deal. A vicious left to the liver nearly sent Thurman down in the 10th as he spat out his mouthpiece into his glove to gasp for air and that set the stage for Pacquiao’s rousing finish. Judges Dave Moretti and Tim Cheatham had it 115-112 for Pacquiao but judge Glenn Feldman surprisingly saw it 114-113 for Thurman.

Boxing News (London) recently recounted Pacquiao’s 10 best fights and listed the Morales rematch, the Bradley rematch and the KO over David Diaz. The list had seven fights in common with mine. My choices that were not in Boxing News’ list were the Chatchai bout and the third meetings with Morales and Bradley. Clearly, Pacquiao deserves a Hall of Fame induction as one of the greatest fighters, if not the greatest, of all time.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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