Manny Pacquiao: Why He Should Be Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year
Manny Pacquiao continues to carve out an amazing legacy.
He is already considered boxing's pound-for-pound best fighter, and finishes the year with two more decisive victories. No one argues he's one of the best fighters of this generation, and now many claim he is one of the all-time greats.
As fight fans, and just normal sports fans, await a possible showdown in 2011 with Floyd Mayweather Jr., it's worth considering: Should Pacquiao have been named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year?
Drew Brees was a worthy recipient, but could Manny be just as deserving?
He could make a strong case. Here are 10 reasons why he should have won the prestigious award:
10. Dynamic Duo
Great athletes reach the mountain top in part because of great coaches. It's become commonplace to see athletes disrespect their coaches, and in boxing, fighters will replace their trainers without hesitation.
Pacquiao, however, is an exception. He and longtime trainer Freddie Roach have formed one of boxing's best fighter-trainer partnerships. Look back over time, and you'll see the greats have kept the same trainers for most of their careers: Muhammad Ali (Angelo Dundee), Sugar Ray Leonard (Dundee), Roy Jones Jr. (Alton Merkerson) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Roger Mayweather).
9. Counter Cultural
Sports fans have become bombarded by professional athletes who are brash, loud, abrasive and arrogant. Their poor judgment is clouded by massive narcissism that allows them to act as if they are accountable to no one and can get away with anything.
Pacquiao, however, stands apart. A quiet, gentle, soft-spoken champion.
8. There's Precedent
Sports Illustrated has honored boxers before with its Sportsman of the Year Award. Previous winners include Ingemar Johansson (1959), Muhammad Ali (1974) and Sugar Ray Leonard (1981).
7. Socially Conscious
Manny Pacquiao's life and ambitions extend beyond the boxing ring. He was elected to Congress in the Philippines in May.
Look back over time and some of sports greatest legends have extended their influence into society: Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe and Lance Armstrong.
6. Continued Dominance
Athletes who truly stand out are dominant ones. Sports Illustrated has honored those in the past, from Michael Jordan to Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Michael Phelps, Tom Brady and Brett Favre.
Pacquiao would definitely qualify. He won decisions over both Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito this year, and has now won eight world championships in eight different weight classes.
5. The Sport's Brightspot
Sure, boxing's not what it used to be, but it remains a part of this country's culture and has provided fight fans with incredible memories from Joe Louis' knockout of Max Schmeling to Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and the trilogy between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward.
Americans may not have a great heavyweight champion to connect with, but Pacquiao remains a great ambassador for the sport and both his fights at Cowboy Stadium this year have drawn over 40,000 fans.
4. Far Bigger Impact
Sports Illustrated has made mention of how important Drew Brees is to the city of New Orleans. No one can argue that, and he certainly is a beloved figure. Pacquiao's impact, though, extends nationwide, and it's common for much of the Philippines to shut down down when he fights.
3. Just Tell Me When and Where
Pacquiao has already gained immense respect for his defeats of Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya.
Great champions duck no one and will fight anytime. That continued to be the case this year for Pacquiao, even if fans weren't treated to a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
2. Just the Right Style
America has never liked fighters who didn't want to get punched.
They have always loved brawlers and slick boxers, ones who will dish out punishment, take it and pound away until the final bell. Pacquiao fits that mold. He's a complete fighter, and as Antonio Margarito's face proved, dishing out punishment will happen.
1. Stop and Enjoy
Manny Pacquiao is the type of athlete you stop down and watch, even if you're not a fight fan.
Americans have always been fascinated by greatness, and know when they see once-in-a-lifetime athletes. You could say that about Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Barry Sanders, Lance Armstrong and Albert Pujols. Same goes for Pacquiao.