He's the biggest star in his native country and maybe in the world. He has beaten a string of champions and Hall of Famers from every division he has fought in from Light Flyweight all the way up to Junior Middleweight. He has even been proclaimed the most popular athlete in the world. Now the question everyone is asking is, "Where does Manny Pacquiao stand in term of the sport's all time greats?". Here is one man's opinion.
In my opinion; The 20 Best Fighters Pound for Pound. Feel free to comment or disagree.
He went 24-0 during one 4 year stretch in the late 1970s when fighters fought every couple of months against all comers. He fought the best at a time when the featherweight division was deep and crowded. He finished with a record of 82-8 with two close losses to Aaron Pryor that are still considered a couple of the best fights ever.
The Fighter of the Decade in the 1990s. He was untouchable for close to ten years. I would put him higher if it weren't for his last few years. But when he was in his prime he was as good as anyone. Check him out against another Hall of Famer James Toney.
Sorry Floyd. Everyone knows about your "O". We also know you don't like to fight the best when they're in their prime. At one time, though, he had to face the best. That was back when he was a Super Featherweight and a Lightweight and he cleaned out the divisions.
Archie Moore was stuck in the wrong division to become a star. One of the best Light Heavyweights ever, he wasn't big enough to win when he moved up to fight Rocky Marciano. But no one his size could beat him when he was in his prime.
This one will probably cause a stir. But I still think Sweet Pea was possibly the best defensive fighter of all time. He was jobbed against De La Hoya, who was given close rounds as if he was the champ instead of Whitaker. They used to say you had to take the champ's crown and I didn't think Oscar took the crown in that fight. The lopsided scores that night shocked me and my friends.
And he's a great actor in Italy.
Benny Leonard was a very smart, crafty, speedy and powerful boxer-puncher who was one of the most dominant champions of all time.
Another great Featherweight. He dominated his era.
I've never understood why Foster isn't on these lists more often. As a Light Heavyweight champ he was untouchable. But like Moore he was overshadowed by the Heavyweights of the time, especially Ali and Frazier. But no one his size could touch him in his prime.
Manos de Piedra.
He changed boxing forever. In many ways he was as important to helping race relations as Jackie Robinson. Later he was accused of being an Uncle Tom by some, but that kind of judgment lacks historical context. A true American hero. And a great fighter.
He was the Mexican James Dean. He beat the great Danny "Little Red" Lopez in 1980 to claim the Featherweight title and held it until his untimely death in 1982. I'd put him higher except we'll never really know how great he would have been. (Check out Lopez's headdress!)
Like Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Marciano has an "O". The difference is he fought everyone who was around at the time. It just wasn't a very good time for the Heavyweight division. But he was pretty darn good.
Pryor might have been the best fighter I have ever seen, but I can't put him higher. His descent into drug addiction and the questions about the Arguello fight and the behavior of Panama Lewis in the fight prevent it.
The original Pacman. Armstrong was able to win at several division back when a championship belt meant something.
From here on out it's really a matter of taste. Every fighter in the top five is a legend. Every one of them a great fighter and an icon. First up Sugar Ray Robinson. Check out the video of one of his five, (yeah, five) wars with Jake "The Raging Bull" LaMotta.
Sometimes it takes a tough loss and a fighters reaction to it so show greatness. Leonard's comeback from his defeat at the hands of Roberto Duran is a case in point. Even better was his stunning turnaround in his show down with Tommy Hearns.
He'd be a Hall of Famer just with his 5-1-1 record against the hall of Fame trio of Barrera, Marquez and Morales but his climb through the ranks to take out all the top Welterweights of the last few years makes him a legend. Add in his political aspirations and his crowd-pleasing style and I say you have to put him in the top three.
What can you say. The Rumble In The Jungle. The Thrilla in Manila. He's Ali and we're not.
If you haven't watched Ken Burns film 'Unforgivable Blackness', you really need to do so. The film isn't just for boxing fans but for anyone who is interested in history or America. Johnson was not only a major figure in American history, he was the best fighter ever in my opinion. Check him out against Stanley Ketchel.