In the highest echelon of boxing, winning against top opponents is glorious, but putting up a sensational performance is what really defines greatness.
On May 7, 2011, Manny Pacquiao will once again step into the ring against a three-division world champion in Sugar Shane Mosley to defend Pacquiao’s WBO Welterweight Crown. Mosley, at 39 years old, is obviously not in the prime of his hall-of-fame career, but his skills, experience and achievement in boxing has won him this opportunity of landing a fight with the pound-for-pound best.
Pacquiao, on the other hand, will once again attempt not only to win his 14th fight in a row, but be the first fighter to stop the ever-durable Mosley, who has never suffered a KO—a feat Mosley’s previous opponents Fernando Vargas, Winky Wright, Vernon Forrest, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and even the self-proclaimed greatest fighter ever Floyd Mayweather Jr. all failed to do.
Manny Pacquiao, the only fighter in the history of boxing to ever win belts in eight different weight divisions and undoubtedly the greatest Asian boxer that ever lived, has already achieved so many firsts in his well documented boxing career. Among his many firsts, he is the first boxer in his native Philippines to have been elected to the House of Congress. He is also the first and only boxer to ever win four lineal championships in as many weight divisions.
His search for glory has long been achieved, but his quest for greatness as a boxer has been amplified over the last decade for his unprecedented performances against whoever is put against him. Because not all marquee oppositions sport an unblemished record like the semi-retired Mayweather does, Pacquiao’s current quest seemed to fixate not only in winning matches, but showing his vast superiority against any opponent he faces.
In 2003, Pacquiao, who was a heavy underdog, faced his first marquee opponent—a Mexican legend in Marco Antonio Barrera. Barrera, though previously defeated trice, sported an eight-fight winning streak prior to the bout. Barrera was thoroughly outgunned and brutally dominated by Pacquiao for 11 agonizing rounds, forcing his corner to stop the fight—his first brutal beating and submission in his highly decorated boxing career.
When Erik Morales (then 48W-3L-0D) fought Manny Pacquiao for a rematch in 2006, he had never tasted the canvas in all his 51 professional fights. Manny Pacquiao handed to him his first knockout loss in the 10th round in a classic battle of wills.
When Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya challenged Pacquiao in what was dubbed as the Dream Match in 2008, everybody thought that, despite De La Hoya forcing himself to meet Pacquiao at 147, he would simply overwhelm Pacquiao. His size advantage, but more so his skills and experience of being the 10 time world champion in six different weight divisions, factored into the Golden Boy being heavily favored.
To his credit, Pacquiao had also jumped two weight classes (from 135) to accept the challenge. Unfortunately for De La Hoya, Pacquiao man-handled him with his speed and offense pummeling. De La Hoya hung around for eight full rounds before the Golden Boy conceded it was too much of a beating for him to sustain.
It was De La Hoya’s first submission and the first boxing match where his face did not look so Golden after the fight. De La Hoya has since retired.
In 2009, Manny Pacquiao wanted to make a statement and prove he was the best in the world by facing Ricky Hatton, whose only loss came at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr. via an 11th Round KO.
One weight class higher than Hatton’s natural fighting weight, Pacquiao and Hatton agreed to meet at 140, where Hatton was simply invincible. He was undefeated and was simply on top of his game. But for the thousands of British Ricky Hatton fans who came in Las Vegas to support their hero, it was a rude awakening.
Manny Pacquiao blitzed him throughout and easily administered one of the most brutal knockouts we’ve seen in this era. Hatton was practically out of his senses even before Pacquiao dropped him to the canvass twitching unconsciously in the second round. Just like De La Hoya, Hatton hasn't stepped in the ring since.
With a bigger, confident and well-trained Shane Mosley looming and eyeing a huge upset come May 7, Manny Pacquiao is once again faced with the task of not just getting a win, but completely outclassing his opponent. Will he be able to hand Shane Mosley his first KO loss? The world is eager to know.
I say he might just be able to do the job.