Firstly, I'm a Pacquiao fan. His fights are box office events in my household, as he is so exciting. But I'm also a boxing purist, which is why I have to state that Manny Pacquiao as a boxer is vastly overrated.
To me, the guy's reputation is based on a few strategically placed names here and there, along with the legendary tale of "how he started at 106 pounds." Of course, neither tells the full story.
First, the weight issues. Manny did start of in the low weights, true. But he also turned pro at something like 15, and spent about five years boxing club fighters in The Phillipines. That and the fact that he was living in a third world country, where you probably couldn't put on a few pounds if you tried. Manny did not box at any significant level in the really small weights. His first living, breathing opposition was Flyweight, when he was 19.
Again, you also have to take into account his age. Western boxers aren't boxing pro in their teens. Most of them turn pro at 21-23. I can guarentee you fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Naseem Hamed also weighed eight stone when they were 16 years old as well. The fact is, they weren't pro boxers, so it's never documented, or leant upon to bolster their resumes.
Manny Pacquiao, at 22 years of age was fighting at Super-Batamweight. And a huge Super-Batamweight at that. At 23 he was a featheweight. At 22 years of age, Floyd Mayweather was a Super-Feathweight. Both walk the streets at an even 150 pounds. They are physically about the same size. The only difference being, Pacquiao's resume includes his boxing exploits as a teenager—to somehow enhance it.
If you look at the actual facts, Pacquiao has been huge at almost every weight he has fought at over the last seven to eight years. His figures for the first Marquez fight are astounding. Manny entered the ring weighing 147 pounds. Yes. He was fighting as a super-featheweight, at the welterweight limit. To put this into context, small Welters like Judah and Mayweather fought under that in Welterweight bouts. Zab faced Clottey, in ring, at 145 pounds. Less than Manny at super-feather.
So in truth, rather than being a small fighter moving up, Pacquiao has been a huge super-featherweight, who should have moved up years ago. More than likely because he was in a hot division, that was worth the pain to boil down into. 146 in ring, is a pretty big lightweight in my book. He wouldn't be small at even light-welter.
So at super-feather, he was a beast. HBO commented during the David Diaz bout that "Diaz is the first opponent I've seen Manny in with, who looks the same size across the torso". Says it all in that respect. A move up to Welter isn't some stunning crusade. It's a long overdue move.
As for Manny's resume. Again. Lots of cracks. He was destroyed by Singsurat at Flyweight. I was lucky enough to get a look at that fight online, and he was never in the bout. Manny never looked to avenge, or get is belt back, and immediately moved up. In short, he ran.
His first bout with Marquez is well documented. Manny dominated the opening round, but that was about it. He probably lost every other round, and was very fortunate to even get a draw. To most he lost by two to three rounds.
Manny redeemed himself against a very good Barrera, who was just off from upsetting Hamed, and this probably goes down as his best win for me. One of his only wins against a peak, elite opponents. But he follows that up by a pretty convincing loss to Erik Morales. Manny was never in the fight, and lost by a long way. Erik basically gave up with three rounds to go, and started boxing Southpaw.
Then came the showboating in the last round (which he still won). Asked why he resorted to these tactics he stated "I wanted to show the world that I was better than Manny in all aspects of boxing." He probably did. I'd say Manny was outclassed that night.
Manny didn't seek a re-match for a long time. It came about a year later, but by then Morales was well on the slide. Erik was probably slight past his best in the first bout, but was well past it by the second. 31 years old, in numerous wars. He'd also lost to Zaheer Rahman before Manny got to him, which maybe demonstrated where he was. Pacquiao won well, but most people recognise that the bout maybe came a bit to late for El Terrible.
He went on to face Barrera and Morales again. I count both of these bouts as Pacquiao facing shot names. Financially valid, but there was no real reason to face Erik Morales three times, when he was visibly shot in the second. Even with that, Barerra pushed Pacquiao very hard, and nearly pulled off the upset.
The second fight to Marquez was another loss on my scorecard. I had Juan winning by two rounds. As did most of the boxing world. Manny got the decision for me as he had a lot of money riding behind him with the Golden Boy involvement, and was far more marketable. Again, saved by a bad decision, but thoroughly outboxed.
Since moving up in weight, finally, he chose to face the weakest 135 champion available. Marquez by comparison beat the best. A totally shot Oscar De la Hoya. And even in facing Oscar, he didn't really take the same risk Mayweather did, in terms of weight. Manny's people insisted on a contract ensuring Oscar entered the ring at the same weight as Manny. Manny basically went in at his peak in ring super-feather, weight.
Meaning Oscar, a career light-middle/welter went into the ring as a super-featherweight/lightweight, for the first time since 1995. At 35 years of age, and pretty much shot, it was far too much weight to lose. Against Mayweather, Oscar was 168 pounds, with a 20 pound weight advantage. And you question why he struggled this time?
Now he is probably facing Ricky Hatton. Again, another fighter already beaten by Mayweather. The difference being, this will be a real pick 'em bout, that Manny may lose. He will have to be at the top of his game to win. Mayweather would win that fight, boxing southpaw, with one eye shut.
In truth, Manny's career amounts to what he has done against peak, elite opponents. And for me, the only one's he has faced are Morales 1, Barrera 1, and Marquez. The history books say he is 3-1 in those matchups. The truth is, he's probably 1-3.
People try and compare Manny to Mayweather. More popular, undoutably. Better to watch, hell yeah. Better fighter, forget about it.
The difference between Manny and Floyd is the fact that Manny's form against elite opposition is mixed at best. Mayweather's only come close to losing once in his career. The rest has been a walk in the park. Manny faces an elite super-feather in Morales, and loses. Mayweather faces one in Corralles, and totally outclasses him.
Manny goes into a Hatton bout, and probably needs the performance of his life to win. Mayweather would beat the guy 100 times out of 100, and would probably only lose about 10 rounds in thos 100 fights.