Manny Pacquiao: How Does He Stack Up Against These 15 Legendary Fighters?
In a career that spanned from flyweight to welterweight, Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) has all the making to go down as an all-time great.
His championship status spanned eight weight divisions, including winning a lineal championship across four divisions.
Many claimed Pacquiao to be the 2000's fighter-of-the-decade after beating the likes of Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton, Marco Antonio Barrera and Miguel Cotto.
In a career that continues to grow day-by-day, it's going to be up to Pacquiao's final performances that determine where he stands. His next opponent will be lightweight great Shane Mosley on May 7th.
So how does he match up against the best? These are 15 of the best boxers in four different weight divisions where Pacquiao could have stood and went toe-to-toe.
No. 15 Sandy Saddler (144-16-2, 103 KOs) Featherweight
American-born boxer Sandy Saddler was a two-time featherweight champion during his 12-year career from 1944 to 1956.
During that time, he had a four-bout series with all-time great and perhaps the greatest featherweight ever, Willie Pep. He became the second man to ever beat Pep after knocking him down four times in their first meeting. He lost the second fight by decision but returned to defeat Pep in the last two fights.
Saddler had a 63 percent knockout ratio and was only stopped once in 16 defeats.
Prediction: Pacquiao was not at his best at featherweight, not even close. His most notable bout in the division came against Juan Manuel Marquez the first time, which resulted in a draw. He also defeated Marco Antonio Barrera by TKO to introduce himself to the American audience.
Saddler was ranked fifth on Ring Magazine's 100 greatest punchers for a reason.
Result: Saddler by TKO in the 10th
No. 14 Hector Camacho (79-5, 38 KOs) Junior Lightweight
Puerto-Rican boxer Hector Camacho is one boxer that could have matched Pacquiao's speed.
Known as the "Macho Camacho," Camacho obtained the WBC lightweight title when he defeated Jose Luis Ramirez in 1985. He defended the title twice successfully against Edwin Rosario and Cornelius Boza Edwards in the best years of his career.
Camacho also holds a win over Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach. He remained undefeated for nearly 10 years before losing to Chris Haugen in 1991. Losses to the greats of the era, including Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez, followed.
Prediction: Camacho was a beast at 130, and despite falling off halfway through his career until he finally retired in 2010, he remains one of the best in the junior-lightweight division—a division where Pacquiao defeated the likes of Morales, Marquez and Barrera.
It would be a battle of speed and power that Pacquiao should have under control against the likes of Camacho at this stage in his career. Trainer Freddie Roach has first-hand experience, and that's an extra asset that would be essential.
Prediction: Pacquiao by unanimous decision
No. 13 Roberto Duran (103-16, 17 KOs) Lightweight
For this match to be in the lightweight division, it is one of the hardest fights to predict on this list.
Roberto Duran wasn't just considered one of the greatest lightweights of all time; he was also considered one of the greatest boxers.
That runs in line with Pacquiao's rising legacy, and a meeting with Duran would be quite possibly the biggest fight in the division.
Duran won fights in five different decades and won titles in four different weight classes. Like Pacquiao, Duran accomplished so much over different divisions and even moved up to middleweight—a destination Pacquiao may venture into.
Prediction: There aren't enough adjectives to describe this fight. It would be brutal, ruthless and ferocious. Two of the most determined boxers and two fighters who love to do one thing only. It's almost impossible to measure their skills against each other.
Pacquiao would have a speed advantage, but Duran had power that carried from lightweight to middleweight. Movement would be a key factor to Pacquiao winning this fight, and at this stage in his career, just may have been enough to keep the "Manos de Piedra" at bay.
If Pacquiao doesn't get KO'd, he probably wins a close and controversial decision.
Result: Pacquiao by split-decision
No. 12 Benny Leonard (91-5-1, 75 KOs) Lightweight
Named eight on Ring Magazine's 100 greatest fighters of the past 80 years, Benny Leonard was an incredible boxer who everyone called "The Ghetto Wizard."
Known for his adapting to his opponents approach and having amazing speed inside the ring, Leonard had a boxing IQ that many don't possess. You can't teach what Leonard knew. It's from years of training and fighting out of a Jewish ghetto in Manhattan, New York.
Two rounds short of 1,000, Leonard retired from the sport in 1932 after losing to Jimmy McLarnin. Before that, in a career that spanned over 20 years, Leonard had only lost one bout in 13 years over the two decades.
Prediction: For a boxer with as much fighting experience inside and outside of the ring that Leonard had, his game plan would be simple; avoid Pacquiao's early storm and begin to break him down as soon as possible. Juan Manuel Marquez showed this in their first fight, and he came back from three knockdowns to almost win a decision.
With trainer Freddie Roach, could Pacquiao develop a game plan to counter the cerebral and methodical approach Leonard brought to the ring? It comes down to game plans, and Pacquiao would have to execute it perfectly. Expect a very similar fight like the Marquez one with Leonard getting dropped early but recovering to out-box and out-think Pacquiao to a decision.
Result: Leonard by unanimous decision
No. 11 Julio Cesar Chavez (107-6-2, 86 KOs) Junior Lightweight
If there's one fight on this list that I would like to see, this is it.
Julio Cesar Chavez was one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of his era, and he achieved that in one of the most aggressive, never-take-a-step-back styles that fans love. It's the same thing that makes fans appreciate Pacquiao.
Chavez is like Pacquiao in that he can use an aggressive approach and beat the very best to ever step in the ring with him. He did this to win six titles in three weight classes ranging from featherweight to lightweight.
Always ready for a war, Chavez had a body-punching assault that may very well have been the greatest ever shown. Every Mexican boxer mirrors that same style, and it has carried many to become some of the most exciting and dangerous fighters.
Prediction: If Chavez could get to Pacquiao's body early and often, it would pay to great effect later in the fight. He used this in virtually every one of his fights and was the key to him winning 107 bouts in a 25-year career.
Chavez also has the chin to weather the storm that Pacquiao would apply early in the bout.
He was no stranger to giving the early rounds away, and he probably does that here. It may not work to Pacquiao's benefit late in the fight when the Chavez body shots begin to take their toll, but the early lead should be enough. Or not?
Result: Majority Draw
No. 10 Ike Williams (125-24-5, 60 KOs) Lightweight
Ike Williams from Brunswick, Georgia became the lightweight champion of the world when he defeated Juan Zarita in 1945. He would go on to beat notable boxers Bob Montgomery, Beau Jack and Johnny Bratton.
Williams was a very quick, speedy fighter with devastating punching power in his right hand. At 5'9", he had a very good height advantage over most of his opponents and let them know he knew how to use it. With brutal and relentless combinations, Williams was able to unload on his opponents without taking a punch in return.
Prediction: Williams and Pacquiao have one thing in common in that they were both ranked "Fighter of the Year" by Ring Magazine 60 years apart. That doesn't mean anything other than they were considered the best in the sport at least once in their careers.
Williams had a three-inch height advantage on Pacquiao, but could he utilize it? Pacquiao has made recent statements in the boxing world that he can handle bigger, taller opponents. That shouldn't be a problem for Pacquiao with trainer Roach guiding him through the inside attack he would use to win this fight.
This would turn out to be one of the best fights on this list. Both boxers hold significant power in their punches, and there would be no shortage of knockdowns in this fight. Two flash knockdowns for Williams and three by Pacquiao gives Pacquiao a one-point edge on the scorecards.
Result: Pacquiao by unanimous decision
No. 9 Gabriel "Flash" Elorde (88-27-2, 33 KOs) Junior Lightweight
It's fellow countryman vs. countryman when these two step in the ring! Elorde is regarded as one of the best Filipino boxers in the history of the sport behind Pacquiao and Pancho Villa.
He was a super-featherweight champion and still holds the record for the longest title reign in the junior-lightweight division at over seven years. His greatest skills were his speed and body punching, which he utilized to defeat 88 of his opponents.
Elorde out-pointed all-time great Sandy Saddler and stopped by Carlos Ortiz twice, both of which would also be legitimate opponents for Pacquiao.
Prediction: At super featherweight, Elorde wins. He is arguably the greatest fighter in that division. At junior lightweight, he still has an advantage but not as much at featherweight. Pacquiao was beginning to learn the subtle skills that Roach would begin to employ in the Filipino icon.
Elorde can take advantage of the holes still in Pacquiao's skillset at this time, and with a very close decision, with more than enough mutaal respect, Elorde takes home a decision.
Result: Elorde by unanimous decision
No. 8 Alexis Arguello (82-8, 65 KOs) Featherweight
Nicaraguan boxer known as the "Incredibly Thin Man" was incredibly talented and incredibly dedicated to being the best, and he was that and more.
At 5'11", there weren't too many opponents that were going to match Arguello inch-for-inch. To add to that, he had a considerable amount of punching power—some of the best punching power ever in the division. He has a 73 percent KO ratio to back it up.
Known for his wealthy amount of title defenses and his war with Aaron Pryor in 1982, Arguello remains one of the most respected boxers of his generation. He and Pacquiao would have gotten along very well, at least outside of the ring. Both were elected to political positions in their home countries.
Prediction: I like Arguello in this bout, but I doubt he gets the KO. Pacquiao's movement should be enough to keep Arguello on guard at all times, but at his height and skill level, he should be able to keep him off long enough to steal a very close decision.
Result: Arguello by split decision
No. 7 Sugar Ray Leonard (33-3-1, 25 KOs) Welterweight
It's another speed fight when Sugar Ray Leonard steps into the ring with Pacquiao. The '80s boxer of the decade versus the 2000s boxer of the decade. It doesn't get better than that.
Leonard was the fastest boxer of his era, and he used that to defeat all-time greats and a wide range of talented boxers in Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Wilfredo Benitez and Thomas Hearns.
It's no myth that Leonard frustrated almost every opponent he has beaten. Look at all of his biggest wins to see the damage done mentally during the fight. He made Roberto Duran say "no mas," flurried to steal rounds from a visibly angry Marvin Hagler and put Hearns away in the 14th round of a fight he was losing.
Prediction: Like I stated above, Leonard knew how to frustrate his opponents. This is one of the biggest flaws of Pacquiao, and it's probably not warranted to be called "big," but it is a flaw. If Leonard is able to put rounds away early, this fight is his.
It would be interesting to see the game plan Roach has planned for Pacquiao. Would Pacquiao pull a Leonard-Hagler and flurry to steal the rounds at the end. It's going to be a very hard and competitive bout to score, as both fighters are excellent combination punchers. Only the best judges will be able to tell who lands and who misses.
Result: Leonard by split decision
No. 6 Pernell Whitaker (44-4-1, 17 KOs) Lightweight
"Sweet Pea" Pernell Whitaker competed against some of the best of his era, including Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad. The southpaw was known for his astonishing defensive ability to maneuver away from punches.
He was the first boxer to win titles in four different weight divisions from lightweight to middleweight and was an Olympic gold medalist in 1984.
Up until his last four bouts, Whitaker had obtained an 40-1-1 record over very credible opponents James McGirt, Diosbelys Hurtado, Jorge Paez and Azumah Nelson. He also avenged his only defeat up until that point against Jose Luis Ramirez.
Prediction: Pernell Whitaker is one of the greatest defensive fighters to ever compete in boxing, but there has always been one major problem; judges don't seem to know how to score it when a fight is close.
If his fight with Pacquiao comes down to determining the clean and effective blows from the not so effective, there is a good chance the flurries of Pacquiao will blind judges into giving him the rounds.
After 12 rounds of very tense rounds, Whitaker out-boxes and out-points Pacquiao in all categories, except one, the scorecards.
Result: Pacquiao by unanimous decision
No. 5 Henry Armstrong (149-21-10, 101 KOs) Welterweight
You've heard the comparison before, and it's usually mentioned on every major Pacquiao pay-per-view event. Henry Armstrong, like Pacquiao, has won boxing championships in more than three divisions. What sets him apart is that he won three titles at the same time.
"Homicide Hank" also has the record for most defenses of the welterweight title.
In his 13-year career, he fought over 150 times and fought well over 10 times per year during the end of his career and in his prime.
He won the welterweight championship when he defeated Barney Ross in 1938 but lost it after eight defenses to Lou Ambers. He quickly won it back from Al Manfredo and defended it 11 times before losing it again to Fritzie Zivic.
Prediction: It's going to be everyone's favorite matchup of power vs. speed in this match. Armstrong's power and aggression versus Pacquiao's speed and movement. Who will prevail?
Ultimately, it's so hard to determine a winner, but to make it interesting, we have to assume both welterweights are coming in at the best stages of their careers.
In an intriguing style clash, this is a back-and-forth war from beginning to end. Pacquiao uses his movement to set Armstrong's aggressive pace off early in the bout, but it eventually gets to him halfway through.
Without knowing who has the advantage going into the final round, Round 15 is the greatest round of all time with both fighters getting rocked and dropped. Armstrong comes back with a right hand to the body that puts Pacquiao down for the count.
Result: Armstrong by TKO in the 15th round
No. 4 Aaron Pryor (39-1, 35 KOs) Junior Welterweight
Was there ever any boxer more confident than "The Hawk" Aaron Pryor? There was something about his fights that just had fans on the edge of their seats waiting for the action that was about to ensue.
With a near 90 percent knockout ratio, Pryor was one of the most dangerous and determined boxers a man could ever face. Look at his knockouts over Alexis Arguello and Antonio Cervantes if you don't believe it.
He defended the WBA world light-welterweight title seven times and had some all-time great wars with some of the very best.
Prediction: Can a man who has an entire country behind him defeat a man whose determination all comes straight from the core of his soul? A man so dangerous and ruthless as Pryror is a tough fight for any boxer of any generation. It's too bad we never got to see more of him against the best, and that's why i'm leaning toward Pacquiao.
If Pacquiao doesn't get caught, it's going to be a long night of seeking and not much finding for Pryor.
There is no doubt Pryor would bring challengers to Pacquiao and threaten him at the slightest movements, but Pacquiao isn't going to back down, and he will fight toe-to-toe if he feels threatened.
Result: Pacquiao by unanimous decision
No. 3 Salvador Sanchez (44-4-1, 32 KOs) Featherweight
I've always said Salvador Sanchez was the biggest "what if" in boxing, and this fight makes it even more of a "what could have been." It keeps us from really getting a perspective on how epic this fight would have been between two of their countries' greatest athletes and boxers.
Sanchez died at the age of 23 after an automobile accident. If not for his premature death, he surly would have gone on to be one of the greatest boxers in the history of Mexico. He had the entire package at a very early age that would have continued to grow as he made his way into his prime years.
He won the WBC featherweight title in 1980 when he defeated Danny Lopez. He retained it 10 times before his death and fought in some of the best featherweight bouts against the very best at that time. Wilfredo Gomez, Pat Cowdell and Azumah Nelson were all defeated by the fighter known as Chava.
Prediction: Once again, Pacquiao wasn't at his best in the featherweight division, and Sanchez was. Sanchez had everything that Pacquiao had and more at this stage in his career.
Sanchez had his share of tough fights, but he always used his ring smarts and technical boxing ability to make his way back into the fight to take charge. His toughest fight was against Azuman Nelson, but he came back in the 15th round to knock him out.
Result: Sanchez by unanimous decision
No. 2 Willie Pep (229-11-1, 65 KOs) Featherweight
After 1956 rounds of boxing, Willie Pep finally decided to call it quits. In an extensive career of over 200 bouts, "Will o' the Wisp" had left his mark in boxing history as one of the greatest ever. He also had an unbelivable 134-1-1 record at one point!
His skills have not been equaled by any boxer before or after him, and he had two featherweight champion title reigns, including one that lasted eight years, to back it up.
When you are watching Pep, you are watching one-of-a-kind—a very special one-of-a-kind. Not in the sense of many boxers you think of when you hear that. He really was special.
Pep's graceful movements are mindblowing to watch and his defense is just as effective as his offense.
Prediction: This fight is clearly a mismatch for Pacquiao at featherweight. Pep was too skilled, experienced and developed as a boxer at this point and possibly at any point in Pacquiao's career to even be challenged competitively.
Pep's accomplishments inside the ring are impossible to copy, and it's almost impossible to find anyone who has done what he has and how he did it.
Result: Pep by unanimous decision
No. 1 Sugar Ray Robinson (173-19-6, 108 KOs) Welterweight
Sugar Ray Robinson is regarded as the greatest boxer of all time. His national appeal inside and outside of the ring defined a generation of boxers that continues to influence everyone who has a desire to step into the ring.
After obtaining a 85-0 amateur record, Robinson turned professional in 1940 where he obtained a 128-1-1 record in the first 11 years in his career.
He would go on to compile a 173-19-6 record with one loss coming by TKO due to heat prostration.
A short list of some of the greatest fighters he has fought and beaten include Jake Lamotta, Carmen Basilio, Gene Fullmer, Henry Armstrong, Rocky Graziano and Kid Gavilian.
With the left or the right, Robinson could present a challenge to any boxer of any style with a unique boxing IQ and a vast arsenal of punches at a speed that is rare for someone his size. He fought at lightweight, welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight.
Robinson defined the science of boxing, and it's one of he hardest things to master, which he did.
Prediction: At welterweight, Robinson was the greatest boxer ever, period. Pacquiao has had his share of quality opponents at welterweight but does he have 15 Hall of Famers to his credit like Robinson?
Robinson had faced one Filipino fighter named Bernard Docusen, who resembles Pacquiao style-wise. He did give Robinson problems early, but that's bound to happen every once and a while.
There is a good guarantee Robinson would be at his very best for this fight and so would Pacquiao. With a five-inch reach and height advantage, it's hard to see Pacquiao having any success at all against Robinson.
Result: Robinson by fifth round TKO