He proved a point to the contender and former holder of the Pound-For-Pound throne. It took him two rounds to do it, but Manny Pacquiao definitely is the reigning Best Fighter, Pound-For-Pound.
He sharpened his skills and training with his mentor Freddie Roach for a decade and is an apt pupil under Roach's tutelage. Manny Pacquiao is good for boxing because he became the best, pound for pound. It wasn't inherited or bequeathed to him by his predecessor. He took the steps, opponent by opponent, weight class by weight class, to bring him the crown.
Manny Pacquiao was a wild upstart with few tangible skills but a lot of speed...the kind of speed that produced power. He grew up in poverty on an island in the Southern Philippines, fighting for crumbs where he could get it. He trained hard to get what he could get to the point where he was good enough to catch the eye of Roach.
Pacquiao became the coach's student, picking and learning with every training session. This is not to say that any other fighter goes through something similar...but with Manny, everything a coach could want was there. He's the hardest working man in the game—even with the distractions of his life. He's a student of the game, studying film and movement and styles.
He's humble—he meets and greets all of his fans (I was told by a friend who had met him that he has a hard time signing autographs because his hands get so bruised in training...he usually just takes pictures). He holds no grudges and looks at the fight game as his job. All of this is good for boxing.
While he maintains a level of celebrity in the Philippines that rivals that of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Roy Jones Jr., and Oscar De La Hoya combined. Fame is the fruit of his labor and he doesn't extravagantly flaunt it as the above mentioned fighters often do.
Manny Pacquiao is good for boxing because his life is boxing. Part of his training involves getting hit repeatedly by a stick, the only professional fighter known to do so. He calls it stick training. He holds titles in 6 different weight classes (one of only two to do so) and can still defend them if necessary. He can brawl with the best of them and be as technically sound as the rest of them.
This writer has never seen faster hands or feet on another fighter, though many are close. He not only fights for the Filipino people (who often put the entire country of the Philippines on hold to watch him fight), he has said that he also fights for all boxing fans everywhere. He gets a big payday because he deserves a big payday and not because he expects one.
In the fight game and to many analysts out there, he may not get the same respect as a lot of fighters out there. Many have said that he didn't stand a chance against the power of Ricky Hatton and look at what happened! It's this writer's hope that the Hatton fight brightens the light shone on Pacquiao as the best fighter, pound for pound.
In a world of flashy entrances and fighters who would rather dance their way to the ring instead of prove themselves in the ring, Manny Pacquiao's calm aggression warrants him not only as the pound for pound king, but as a true ambassador of the sport. An ambassador that had been lacking for quite a while.
Is he the best? I like to think so, but everyone knows in boxing one punch can turn things around. Could he be the best-ever as many people are now asking, I hope so. Boxing certainly needs a better face, and Manny isn't all that ugly.
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