Manny Pacquiao: 12 Reasons He's the Best Pound-for-Pound Athlete in the World

Adam HirshfieldFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2010

Manny Pacquiao: 12 Reasons He's the Best Pound-for-Pound Athlete in the World

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    When we talk about the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, it's typically taken to refer to a boxer's skill and ability regardless of his size...or, perhaps, relative to his size.

    The same should theoretically hold true for the best pound-for-pound athletes in the world. These athletes are spectacularly gifted on their field of play, but they bring something else, something special to the table off it as well. Call it a joie de vive, a presence.

    And that's why Manny Pacquiao has to be in consideration with the best all-around athletes our planet has to offer.

    So even if you're thinking of names like Tom Brady, Deion Sanders, Derek Jeter, Lance Armstrong, Herschel Walker, Candace Parker, Usain Bolt or anyone else, Pacquiao should be a part of that conversation.

    Here are 12 reasons he's among the greatest pound-for-pound athletes in the world.

He Has Speed

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    He's in, then he out.

    He's offensive, then he's defensive.

    He's against the ropes, then he turns it around and has his opponent against the ropes.

    There aren't many fighters in history quicker than Pacquiao, and he showed some of his finer moves against Margarito on Saturday night.

He Has Power

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    Sure, Manny may just be a shade under 5'7" and 150 pounds sopping wet.

    But between his lightning-fast combinations and his always surprising power with both hands, he's an incredibly dangerous opponent for even a bigger, theoretically stronger fighter like Margarito.

He Has Stamina

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    Let's be honest, Manny got hit a good amount on Saturday night. But even though he said Margarito hurt him at various point against the ropes, the result was never in question.

    While Margarito lost power as the fight went on and he looked like a thoroughly beaten man by the end of the night—with the referee checking in with him multiple times to make sure his eyes could still focus—Pacquiao looked fresh and ready to hit the town.

    Yes, he had some small scars under his eyes, but he had the stamina to withstand even Margarito's best flurries.

He Has Brains

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    Pacquiao is smart and calculated in the ring, and he appears to be equally bright outside of it as well.

He Can Be Absolutely Dominant

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    Like a Peyton Manning or Roger Federer, the world's top athletes have that almost innate ability to simply bring their skills to another level when they want to.

    Manny was nearly there on Saturday night.

    I mean, did you see Antonio Margarito's face by the end of the fight?

    Pacquiao beat him senseless. And it could have been far worse...

But He Has a Heart

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    In the 12th round, Pacquiao could easily have knocked out a bruised, beaten and nearly blinded Margarito.

    But he danced around him, throwing an occasional punch, but largely carrying his battered opponent through to the fight's end.

    He knew he had the fight well in hand, but he allowed Margarito to save face—both literally and figuratively—by finishing the fight and allowing it to go to a decision.

    That's the sign of an honorable competitor: knowing you have your opponent beaten, but having enough sportsmanship to not rub his nose in it.

He Has a Million Dollar Smile

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    With a smile and thumbs-up like that, it's shocking he didn't get into politics until age 31.

He's Gracious

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    Late in the fight, Pacquiao asked the referee several times if he wanted to stop the fight. He didn't want to hurt Margarito any more than he already had.

    And after the fight, Pac Man was equally gracious in dealing with his opponent.

    "I really had a hard fight and this was the hardest fight in my boxing career," Pacquiao said afterward. "Margarito is really tough and strong. I felt it. He is really big, bigger than me. I wanted to give a good fight and I wanted to make the people happy. It’s why sometimes I fought him toe-to-toe. It’s what the people wanted."

    True, Manny...Margarito put up a valiant effort, but you could have knocked him into next week if you'd really wanted to.

He Has a Lovely Lady at His Side

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    Jinkee Pacquiao, Manny's wife, looked phenomenal on Saturday night, something like a Filipino Salma Hayek.

    Manny really does have it all.

He Has Other Good People Around Him

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    Freddie Roach is Pacquiao's trainer. A guy that calm, cool and collected (well, most of the time)—not to mention a world-class trainer—is only going to help him in all walks of life.

He Has a Life Outside the Ring

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    Between his wife, his kids, his political career, his singing career, an eventual acting career, being an author, poet, and backup dancer on the latest Britney Spears tour...oh, and being the best boxer in the world, Manny Pacquiao is a busy guy.

    OK, some of those gigs might be made up, but you get the point. The guy has his irons in a bunch of fires.

    And as he stands to convert a good number of new fans in each new arena he tackles, his popularity is likely only to grow.

He's a Performer

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    Not only does he love to perform in the boxing ring, Manny Pacquiao loves to perform on stage.

    Hell, he couldn't be any worse than Nelly was at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday night.

He Has It All

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    Manny Pacquiao is truly a well-rounded athlete.

    He can get the job done both inside the ring and out. He has the physical skills, the brains, good people around him, a multitude of goals and interests and high standards for himself.

    This impressive combination makes him unquestionably one of the best pound-for-pound athletes in the world.

    Who else would you put in his company?

    After watching him on Saturday night, he seemed to be in a class by himself.