The Anatomy of Manny Pacquiao
There are only two boxers I can think of that can literally stop a war: the fictional Rocky Balboa and the non-fictional Manny Pacquiao.
Life before boxing
Emmanuel Dapigran Pacquiao was born Dec. 17, 1978 to a poor family in Kibawe, Bukidnon Mindanao, Philippines. "Manny" ran away from home to find his luck in the city, where he worked in a construction company. To add to his earnings, he sold cigarettes in a nearby boxing gym, which eventually started his love for the sweet science.
Manny Pacquiao started his boxing career in 1995, winning his first 11 fights before losing via third round knockout to Rustino Torrecampo. The loss fueled him in a 15-fight winning streak and in the process winning the WBC flyweight crown, only to lose in his third title defense against Medgeon Singsurat.
Rise to stardom
After the loss to Singsurat, Pacquiao again was back to his winning ways, defeating decent opposition, including the highly favored IBF super bantamweight champion Lehlehonolo Ledwaba, stopping him in the sixth round. At this time Pacquiao was already a star in the Philippines but totally an unknown fighter elsewhere.
His biggest break came when he was picked as an opponent to Mexican great Marco Antonio Barrera, the Lineal featherweight champion considered among the top pound for pound boxers of that time.
Pacquiao was a heavy underdog, and experts only viewed the fight as Barrera's tune-up for a third encounter with Erik Morales. But that night in Texas, Pacquiao displayed arguably the best performance of his career, applying relentless pressure against the Mexican legend throughout the fight, which ended dramatically when Barrera's corner threw in the towel at the 11th round.
The trilogy with el terible
With the win over Barrera, Pacquiao's name spread fast throughout the division, and he eventually was given a title shot against two-belt champion Juan Manuel Marquez in a close and controversial fight that ended in a draw.
After the camps of both Pacquiao and Marquez couldn't work out a deal for a rematch. Pacquiao choose to fight in his native Philippines, wherein he won via stoppage at the fourth round against Fahsan 3K Battery.
After the said fight, Pacquiao again shared the spotlight in Las Vegas when he was matched up against Erik "el terible" Morales. Their first fight saw a bloodied Pacquiao going toe to toe against Morales. Pacquiao showed heart and determination but Morales displayed a better performance getting the judges nod.
The rematch saw a different Pacquiao now equiped with a right hand punch, Morales was stunned in the early rounds although he remained his composure. Pacquiao eventually went on to become the first man to ever knockout Morales, stopping him in the 10th.
The Grand finale did not last long but remained action-packed and as exciting as the first two fights. Morales absorbing everything that Pacquiao was throwing and Pacquiao returning the favor was absorbing everything that Morales was throwing. In the end Morales' war-torn body failed him as he was stopped in the 3rd round.
The Mexecution continues
After the trilogy with Morales, Pacquiao, now considered as one of the best pound for pound fighters and the uncrowned champion in his division, was challenged by a young and undefeated Jorge Solis. Solis used his height advantage to the fullest, but Pacquiao proved that Solis was still raw for such heavy competition, knocking him out in the eighth round.
At the same time Barrera lost his world title to Marquez. Barrera, seeking an opponent for his supposed to be last fight, was matched up for a rematch with Pacquiao. The fight was a walk in the park for Pacquiao, winning via unanimous decision.
The unfinished business
Talks of a rematch with Marquez were being negotiated even after their first fight, but by some unknown reason it only materialized four years after. Champion versus Champion, Pacquiao knocked down Marquez, but Marquez counter-punched to perfection. It was a close fight, but eventually Pacquiao got the win via split decision.
History in the making
Because of the controversial manner in which Pacquiao won against Marquez, talks and rumors of a third match begun to flood the Internet and Philippine TV stations, but Pacquiao opted to move up in the Lightweight division, attempting to be the first Asian to win four world titles in as many weight divisions.
History he did make when he knocked out WBC champion David Diaz in the ninth round to become four division world champion and also erasing all doubts of his unworthiness of being crowned pound for pound king.
The Dream match
Shortly after the Diaz fight, Humberto Soto and Edwin Valero's names jumped in the picture as Pacquiao's next opponent, but by God's will, a match of Pacquiao against the Golden Boy of boxing, Oscar De La Hoya, pushed through. Many critics had labeled the fight as a circus show, featuring the big bully De La Hoya and the mini-midget Pacquiao.
The fight turned out to be a mismatch as expected, only the other way around. Pacquiao was found to be too quick for De La Hoya, able to connect shots in different awkward angles. Finally, before the start of the ninth round, De La Hoya retired in his stool, unable to continue.
Pacquiao is a celebrity here in his home country of the Philippines, having multiple endorsement deals whether television, radio, or print ads, filming movies, recording CDs, appearing in prime time news, and even guesting on variety shows.
Every time Pacquiao fights, the whole country stops and takes a break from the usual political, economic, and financial problems. Movie houses are turned into closed-circuit casinos, zero crime rate is a sure thing, not a single vehicle is in sight on the usual busy highways, and even Rebel soldiers are tuned in to radios for live feeds.
The typical Filipino watches his fight round by round in which every round is preluded by 15-minute commercials.
Perhaps the favorite son of the Philippines, Manny Pacquiao is truly the sole common denominator of us Filipinos.
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