By Lee Payton
I have a feeling I'll need to revise this list in a couple weeks and find a spot for what takes place at the MGM Grand on November 14, but for now these are my top 10 greatest Manny Pacquiao fights.
Photos © Ray Kasprowicz
10. Won TKO8 Chatchai Sasakul - December 4, 1998- The fight that started it all. Manny traveled to Thailand and was being dominated by a respected champion until his freakish power came through. It was his very first world title.
9. Won TKO6 Lehlohonolo Ledwaba - June 23, 2001- Pacquiao made his debut on American TV as a late replacement. On just two weeks notice he crushed the South African veteran, and took his world title belt at 122 lbs in the process. His amazing speed and frightening power made the big boys at HBO take immediate notice.
8. Won TKO9 David Diaz - June 28, 2008- This fight is significant because Pacquiao earned a championship in his fifth weight class. There was never any doubt as to who the better fighter was, but the way he tortured a strong, rugged lightweight raised some eyebrows.
7. Won TKO8 Oscar De La Hoya - December 6, 2008 This was not a prime De La Hoya, but the thorough beating the Pac-Man delivered was still a big deal because it introduced the entire sports world to Manny Pacquiao. Going into the fight most fans and media people thought that the little man had finally bitten off more than he could chew. Instead, he put an end to The Golden Boy's career as a boxer.
6. Draw Juan Manuel Marquez - May 8, 2004- During the early part of their first epic encounter Manny's devastating power was on full display. If you watched him rip through Marquez' chin, dropping him 3 times in the very first round, you could hardly believe what was happening. Later on, it became obvious that the kid still needed some work. Pacquiao went from invincible to human right before our eyes. Only his indomitable will allowed him to hold onto the featherweight crown.
5. Won SD Juan Manuel Marquez - March 15, 2008- By the time these two warriors met again Manny had added a few new wrinkles to his already blistering arsenal. A thicker and tidier Pacquiao was taken to the brink once again by the great counter punching skills of his pesky adversary, despite nearly ending matters at the end of the third round. He was cut badly and had been hurt several times throughout the contest, but after 12 more rounds of tactical Hell, the fiery Filipino earned a very narrow victory.
4. Lost UD Erik Morales - March 19, 2005- I had a bit of a hard time finding a place for this fight, but decided on the #4 spot because, for my money at least, it was the most entertaining from start to finish. For the first time ever, he saw Pacquiao in with someone who could stand up to his explosive fists. He came out on the short end in this fight, but many times it's the losses that reveal the most about what a fighter has on the inside. When many pugs would have folded, Manny just dug deeper. Imagine how loud it was in the Philippines during that unforgettable final round...
3. Won KO2 Ricky Hatton - May 2, 2009- While Hatton is not on the same level of Morales or Marquez, he was the legit champion at 140 lbs. A former flyweight champ decimated the jr. welterweight king in 2 rounds. Let that sink in. One blast from his famous left fist finished what was already a hideous beating. The brutal conclusion made one thing clear- when it comes to Pacquiao, the supposed "laws" of boxing do not apply.
2. Won TKO10 Erik Morales - January 21, 2006- In many ways this was Manny greatest performance. It's not just the fact that he knocked out a legendary hard ass, it's how he went about it. After enduring a familiar cuffing in the early going, Pacquiao proved he was the best in the world by hanging in, and making the progress he made in the gym count for something under the lights. The "Baddest Man" torch was officially passed that evening.
1. Won TKO11 Marco Antonio Barrera - November 15, 2003- The Mexican icon was on top of his game. He had successfully switched from vicious attacker to a clever, heavy-handed boxer who was considered 1 of the 5 best fighters in the sport. In late 2003 Barrera put his World Featherweight Title on the line against a skinny Filipino not many people had heard much about. Hardcore boxing fans knew the kid was fast as lightning and fun to watch, but no one expected him to treat the future Hall Of Famer like a sparring partner. He assaulted Marco mercilessly, forcing the corner call a halt to the savage beating. Manny Pacquiao had exploded onto the scene suddenly and he's been blowing our minds ever since.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009
By Lee Payton