Iconic prizefighter Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao thoroughly dominated Antonio “Tijuana Tornado” Margarito to earn a lopsided unanimous decision victory and capture the vacant WBC super welterweight world title last Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Sacrificing 17 pounds and nearly five inches in height, Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) still violently thrashed Margarito (38-7-0-1, 27 KOs) and broke the Mexican cheater’s right eye socket.
Pacquiao, the first fighter to capture 10 world titles in eight different divisions, is currently rated by Ring Magazine as the preeminent pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
Last January, “Pac-Man” was justifiably honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) as the “Fighter of the Decade” for the 2000’s.
Despite Pacquiao’s litany of accomplishments and accolades, there always seems to be critics who want to diminish his stature as a pugilist.
Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins became the most recent individual to attempt to discount Pacquiao’s legacy in the squared circle.
Hopkins (51-5-1-1, 32 KOs), a pugilistic marvel who once successfully defended his middleweight title a record 20 times, claimed Pacquiao has sidestepped battling African-Americans throughout his glittering career.
Has Pacquiao avoided fighting African-Americans?
"Maybe I'm biased because I'm black, but I think that this is what is said at people's homes and around the dinner table among black boxing fans and fighters. Most of them won't say it [in public] because they're not being real and they don't have the balls to say it," said Hopkins, 45, an ex-convict who is destined for future induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Hopkins, who will challenge WBC light heavyweight titleholder Jean Pascal (26-1, 16 KOs) for his crown December 18, continued his inane rant.
"Listen, this ain't a racial thing, but then again, maybe it is," said Hopkins. "But the style that is embedded in most of us black fighters, that style could be a problem to any other style of fighting."
"That's why Floyd Mayweather would beat Manny Pacquiao because the styles that African American fighters—and I mean, black fighters from the streets or the inner cities—would be successful. I think Floyd Mayweather would pot-shot Pacquiao and bust him up in between the four-to-five punches that Pacquiao throws and then set him up later on down the line."
In March, Pacquiao severely outclassed Ghanaian professional boxer “The Hitter” Joshua Clottey (35-4-0-1, 20 KOs) to triumph by unanimous decision.
Comically, Hopkins diminished Pacquiao’s victory over Clottey and questioned “The Hitter’s” blackness.
"Clottey is 'black,' but not a 'black boxer' from the states with a slick style. So you can't really say that Clottey is an African-American fighter in that sense," said Hopkins. "No, I'm talking about an inner city, American-born fighter who has the style of maybe a Floyd Mayweather or a Zab Judah or a Shane Mosley."
Pacquiao would categorically annihilate the slightly above-average Judah (40-6-0-2, 27 KOs) without breaking a sweat and Mosley (46-6-1-1, 39 KOs) would fold versus the Filipino nearly as easily.
Conversely, Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) has avoided Pacquiao like anthrax because “Pretty Boy” is apparently mortified of scrapping the overwhelming congressman.
There simply is not an active prizefighter today that deserves to be mentioned alongside Pacquiao.
Likely realizing he sounded like a rambling clown pocket, Hopkins contended “Sugar” Ray Leonard would have prevailed over Pacquiao in his prime.
"I do think that a fighter like Ray Leonard would beat a guy [like Pacquiao] if they come with their game," said Hopkins.
If they had fought at the peaks of their respective careers, Leonard indeed would have defeated Pacquiao.
Leonard (36-3-1, 25 KOs), named Fighter of the Decade for the 1980s by Ring Magazine, also captured world titles at multiple weight classes.
The International Boxing Hall of Famer managed to trump fabled fighters Wilfred Benitez (53-8-1, 31 KOs), Thomas Hearns (61-5-1, 48 KOs), Roberto Duran (103-16, 70 KOs) and Marvin Hagler (62-3-2, 52 KOs) among others.
Leonard, the winner of a gold medal as a light welterweight at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, possessed blinding speed and deft agility in the ring.
Furthermore, the smiling and charismatic Leonard was a deceptively powerful puncher who could badly hurt an opponent with either one solid shot or a combination of flurries.
After years of shire excellence, Leonard began to slow and fade with age.
In February 1991, Leonard attempted to defy “father-time” and defeat the athletic “Terrible” Terry Norris for his junior middleweight title.
Predictably, “Sugar” Ray failed in his quest and he was badly battered by Norris (47-9, 31 KOs) throughout their entire 12 round contest.
Leonard, a man that Ring Magazine named in 2002 as one of the 10 best fighters of the last 80 years, announced his retirement to the crowd shortly after he was brutalized by Norris.
Sadly, the Maryland native couldn’t resist the opportunity to return to prizefighting and he unwisely fought once more versus Hector Camacho (79-5-2, 38 KOs) in March 1997.
A spent Leonard was pulverized by the feathery punches of Camacho in five pathetic rounds.
If Leonard had listened to his body, he would have retired with only one loss on his otherwise glittering resume.
“For a lot of these guys, boxing is all they know and it’s the only way for them to make money,” said Ed LaVache, the owner of the Boston Boxing Club in Allston. “So, they keep fighting until the fight is lost in them.”
Pacquiao has not been conquered since he lost a unanimous decision to Erik Morales (48-6, 34 KOs) in March 2005.
Furthermore, “Pac-Man” has not suffered a knockout since he was trounced in three rounds by Medgoen Singsurat (23-2, 19 KOs) in September 1999.
Pacquiao is an aggressive and tough brawler and he would have been an extremely difficult adversary for Leonard.
Nonetheless, Leonard would have inevitably discovered a flaw in Pacquiao’s technique and he would have managed to expose the “Fighting Pride of the Philippines” as their bout progressed into the later rounds.
“I fought tall fighters, short fighters, strong fighters, slow fighters, sluggers and boxers,” said Leonard, who the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) rated as the second best welterweight ever in 2005. “It was either learn or get knocked off.”
Manny Pacquiao is absolutely a brilliant prizefighter for the ages.
Despite Pacquiao’s unquestioned greatness in the ring, Leonard was overall a more dynamic boxer and he would have emerged victorious had the two ever fought.
“My ambition is not to be just a good fighter,” Leonard once said. “I want to be great, something special.”
“Sugar” Ray Leonard was definitely “great, something special.”
Similarly, Pacquiao is also “great, something special.”
Pacquiao would brutalize any fighter today regardless of color and Bernard Hopkins has some set of racist pearls to suggest otherwise.
White, black or yellow, Manny Pacquiao is simply the greatest fighter of his generation.