Manny Pacquiao: Ranking the 20 Greatest Fights of His Career

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

Manny Pacquiao: Ranking the 20 Greatest Fights of His Career

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    Manny Pacquiao's stellar career is notable for a series of huge fights that have allowed him to become a household name in the United States and one of the most well-known sporting figures around the world.

    Pacquiao is one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and is often credited along with Floyd Mayweather Jr. for having the talent, desire and persona to help boxing maintain its status in the sporting world.

    While most of his biggest fights have occurred more recently, some of his earlier fights helped put him on the boxing map and allowed him to become a stellar boxer.

    Here's a look at the top 20 fights of his career.

No. 20 Pacquiao vs. Reynante Jamili

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    Early in his career and shortly after his 21st birthday, Pacquiao fought Reynante Jamili.

    The fight was significant for two reasons. First, Pacquiao was fighting at 122 pounds for the first time in his career. He had never fought at more that 114 pounds before this fight, and it was a significant jump in weight.

    Additionally, in his previous fight, Pacquiao had been stopped by Medgoen Singsurat in three rounds. How would he react in the ring after getting stopped for the first time in his career?

    Pacquiao reacted well. He pounded Jamili and stopped him in the second round. He handled the extra weight with ease, and it gave him more punching power.

No. 19 Pacquiao vs. Wethya Sakmuangklang

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    Pacquiao was climbing up the ranks at this point in his career. In this fight, he defended his super bantamweight title against the experienced Wethya Sakmuangklang, who came into the fight with a 41-3-0 record.

    Sakmuangklang also had a reputation of being a fighter who would do anything to win. Pacquiao went about his business with power and determination. He took the fight to Sakmuangklang and hurt him in the middle rounds.

    Pacquiao registered a sixth-round knockout and served notice that he was ready for much bigger fights.

No. 18 Pacquiao vs. Lehlo Ledwaba

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    Pacquiao fought for the IBF super bantamweight title against Lehlo Ledwaba. It was Pacquiao's first fight in the United States, as he took on Ledwaba at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in 2001.

    Pacquiao's action-packed and aggressive style earned him applause and respect from the boxing crowd. This fight also marked the first time he partnered with trainer Freddie Roach.

    Pacquiao took it to Ledwaba from the start and registered a sixth-round knockout.

    A new boxing star was born in this fight.

No. 17 Pacquiao vs. Jorge Eliecer Julio

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    It's one thing for a fighter like Pacquiao to come from the Philippines and establish a name for himself, but it's quite another to travel all the way to Memphis, Tennessee, and show off his dominance in front of a new crowd in the Southeast.

    Jorge Eliecer Julio was a stylish and accomplished boxer who came into the ring with a 44-3-0 record.

    Pacquiao started the fight with a flourish, and his quickness caused problems for Julio from the start. He was able to shoot in his power left with little trouble.

    Pacquiao dominated the fight and stopped Julio in the second round.

No. 16 Pacquiao vs. Emmanuel Lucero

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    Pacquiao was about to step up in class in boxing and become one of the sport's true stars when he fought Emmanuel Lucero in 2003.

    Lucero was an undefeated 21-0-1, and he had the skills to test Pacquiao. However, Pacquiao simply did not allow Lucero to get comfortable in the ring. He used his speed and power to punish the Mexican in the early part of the fight.

    It was another quick night for Pacquiao, as he stopped his rival with a devastating left hand in the third round.

    After Pacquiao hit him with a sharp, crisp left, Lucero started wobbling around the ring as if he were inebriated. The fight was stopped before Pacquiao had a chance to land another punch.

No. 15 Pacquiao vs. Marco Antonio Barrera I

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    Pacquiao stepped up in class and introduced himself to mainstream American boxing fans when he fought Marco Antonio Barrera for the first time at the Alamodome in 2003.

    Barrera was a skilled fighter who brought a 57-3-0 record into the fight. He could test his younger rival as he had never been tested in the ring before that point.

    Pacquiao could have been intimidated, but he was not.

    After suffering a first-round knockdown, Pacquiao took it to Barrera and pounded out a victory in the fight. While Barrera landed his share of punches, he was done-in during the 11th round and was stopped by Pacquiao's barrage of punches.

No. 14 Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales I

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    Erik Morales was a solid 130-pound fighter when he stepped into the ring in Las Vegas with Pacquiao. Morales was 47-2-0, and he was not intimidated by the Filipino fighter as they went at it for the WBC and IBF super featherweight titles.

    It was a hard-hitting and honest fight, with both fighters landing punches and combinations throughout. Every time Pacquiao looked like he was about to take charge, Morales would rally. The same happened when Morales was about to put his imprint on the fight.

    The bout went the full 12 rounds, and Morales took a narrow 115-113 victory on all three judges' scorecards. The loss was the third of Pacquiao's career and his first on American soil.

No. 13 Pacquiao vs. Morales II

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    Pacquiao came back with new determination after losing to Morales the first time.

    Still, it would not be easy.

    Morales used his boxing skills to build an early lead in the fight, but Pacquiao came back with a vengeance and had stormed back to take the lead by the time the fight had reached the 10th round.

    In that round, Pacquiao's punches had more steam, and he was clearly quicker, hurting Morales with his right jab and his straight left.

    Morales tried to rally, but Pacquiao knocked him down and hurt him badly. Morales got up by the count of eight, but Pacquiao sent him down to the canvas again, and the fight was immediately stopped in the 10th round.

No. 12 Pacquiao vs. Joshua Clottey

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    Pacquiao fought Joshua Clottey in March 2010 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

    Clottey was a solid boxer who was supposed to give Pacquiao a run for his money. But he never figured out a way to hurt Pacquiao, even though Clottey was fighting at 147 pounds and was the biggest fighter Pacquiao had gotten into the ring with at that point in his career.

    Pacquiao could not stop Clottey, but he registered a unanimous and one-sided decision.

No. 11 Pacquiao vs. David Diaz

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    Pacquiao has always shown the ability to get the best of his opponents, no matter what type of style.

    David Diaz was a sharp and fast boxer who was nearly as quick as Pacquiao when they entered the ring in 2008. Diaz had a 35-1-1 record entering the fight, and he was balanced, smooth and had the ability to move quickly.

    Pacquiao was undeterred, aggressively pursuing Diaz throughout the fight. He built up a sizable lead through eight rounds and then used his strength and power to stop his opponent in the ninth.

No. 10 Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez I

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    The first fight in this classic series set the tone for these two superb fighters.

    When they met in 2004 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Juan Manuel Marquez may not have known what kind of talent his opponent had.

    Marquez landed a couple of hard punches in the first round, but then Pacquiao exploded. He hammered Marquez with three first-round knockdowns, and the fight could have been stopped had referee Joe Cortez not looked into Marquez's eyes and seen that he was fully capable of defending himself and coming back.

    It took a while, but Marquez slowly established himself and then took the fight to Pacquiao.

    The fight went 12 rounds, with one judge giving the edge to Pacquiao, one giving it to Marquez and the third calling it even.

    The fight was ruled a draw.

No. 9 Pacquiao vs. Jorge Solis

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    Pacquiao went back to the Alamodome in San Antonio in 2007 to take on impressive Jorge Solis.

    At the time, Solis was a hot property who brought a 34-0-2 record into the ring.

    Pacquiao did not have an easy time of it through the first seven rounds, but he had a small edge as the fight moved into the eighth.

    It was clear to Pacquiao that Solis could not hurt him at that point in the fight. So Pacquiao bided his time and looked for his opening. He hit Solis with a hard one-two combination, and that resulted in a knockdown.

    A shaky Solis picked himself up and the fight was allowed to continue.

    Pacquiao jumped on him again, landed another combination and down went Solis. That was the end of the fight.

No. 8 Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez II

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    Nearly four years after their first fight, Pacquiao and Marquez got back into the ring for the second time.

    The two fighters had not lost one bit of fire or enthusiasm, and they went after each other with a near religious fervor.

    Just like the first fight, Pacquiao had the early edge. He registered another knockdown and appeared to have Marquez in serious trouble.

    But Marquez came back and gave as good as he got.

    The fight went the full 12 rounds, and it appeared to be another draw to many observers. However, Pacquiao won the fight on two of the three judges' scorecards and took a split-decision victory.

No. 7 Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales III

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    In their first fight, Morales pounded out a win in a 12-round decision. In their second fight, Morales took charge early, but Pacquiao rallied and unleashed a serous assault to come away with a 10th-round TKO.

    But the third fight removed all doubt about who the better fighter was.

    Pacquiao registered a second-round knockdown to take charge, and then he finished Morales with a knockout in the third round.

    Pacquiao left no doubt about his killer instinct with this decisive win.

No. 6 Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito

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    Pacquiao seemingly had a serious challenge on his hands when he fought the 150-pound Antonio Margarito in Cowboys Stadium in 2010 for the vacant WBC light middleweight title.

    Margarito outweighed Pacquiao by 5.5 pounds and could have been in a position to do serious damage. But Pacquiao would have none of it, taking the fight to Margarito from the start. He pounded out a unanimous, one-sided decision and made Margarito look bad in the process.

No. 5 Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya

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    Oscar De La Hoya was one of the great fighters of his generation and a true superstar of the sport. But there was a feeling that he did not have enough left in the tank when he got into the ring with Pacquiao in 2008.

    De La Hoya fought hard, but as the fight went along, Pacquiao took charge and dominated the fight with a series of blows. By the middle rounds, it was clear that De La Hoya was taking too much punishment.

    After the eighth round, De La Hoya did not get off of his stool, stopping the fight. Not only did he stop fighting against Pacquiao, but he retired from the sport and went on to become a boxing promoter.

No. 4 Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III

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    The third fight in this series was another exciting bout, with these two warriors going at each other with fervor and purpose for 12 more rounds.

    This time, it appeared that Marquez had the best of it in the early going, but Pacquiao managed to rally. In the end, Pacquiao won a majority decision, with one judge calling the fight even and the other two giving the edge to Pacquiao.

    There was a lot of debate after the fight, and Marquez and his trainer, Nacho Beristain, indicated that they should have been given the decision.

    But Marquez did not do much in the 12th round, and that hurt his cause.

    The third fight left boxing fans demanding a fourth bout in the series.

No. 3 Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV

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    A stunning fight, as both fighters said they wanted to register a knockout since the first three fights were close decisions.

    Pacquiao got knocked down by a hard overhand right in the third round. That punch hurt Pacquiao, but he got up like a champion.

    Pacquiao registered his own knockdown in the fifth round when he hit Marquez with a straight left that caused the Mexican to lose his balance. Pacquiao followed up with a series of hard punches, and he appeared to break Marquez's nose.

    In the sixth round, Pacquiao continued to hit his opponent with hard punches, and Marquez was bloody and swollen. Pacquiao was swarming his man and it appeared he would have a big advantage in the round, possibly by a 10-8 score on the judges' scorecards.

    However, in the final seconds, Pacquiao was vulnerable and in range of Marquez's big right hand. Marquez saw the opening and delivered a tremendous shot that caught Pacquiao hard on the chin.

    He went down face first and was counted out. It was a knockout loss for Pacquiao at 2:59 of the sixth round.

    Pacquiao had fought like a warrior and looked like a win was within his grasp, but one punch turned out his lights.

    Marquez earned his first victory in the epic series.

No. 2 Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton

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    Ricky Hatton came into this fight filled with bravado and outward confidence.

    He thought he could step into the ring and take it to Pacquiao.

    At least, that's the way he wanted the fight to go. Hatton was in for a rude awakening, however. He found Pacquiao at his best, and it was utter destruction.

    Pacquiao did nothing but dominate his British opponent. It seemed that Pacquiao hurt Hatton every time he landed his jab.

    The fight came to an end in the second round when Pacquiao threw a hard, overhand left hand that landed right on Hatton's chin and put him down on the canvas with a resounding thud. Hatton could not get up, and Pacquiao had an overpowering second-round knockout.

No. 1 Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto

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    This fight is similar to many in Pacquiao's series of bouts with Marquez because there was action from start to finish.

    However, Pacquiao was able to stop the courageous Miguel Cotto in the 12th round of this fight.

    The 2009 bout was thrilling because of the action, and it demonstrated Pacquiao's skills, athletic ability and courage while under fire from a tremendous opponent.

    This win allowed Pacquiao to become the first fighter to win championships in seven different weight classes.