Manny Pacquiao’s loss to Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas via unanimous decision was heartbreaking for many boxing fans and Filipinos. But if he does indeed decide to call it a day for his boxing career, his latest loss still does not diminish the splendor of his much storied prizefighting journey.
Over his quarter century career, Pacquiao has won 12 major titles and remains the only eight-division world champion, an esteemed singular distinction that by many indications he would retain for the foreseeable future. He’s also the first boxer to clinch championship titles in five different classes: flyweight, featherweight, super featherweight, light welterweight, and welterweight.
A southpaw fighter, he’s known for delivering action-packed fights from the Mexecutioner Era to his Welterweight War that showcased his blinding speed and power-punching style that electrified viewers and pulled in record viewers. Peak Pacquiao usually ended in a knockout or with his sorry opponent finding his face rearranged in various possible ways.
No one, except Pacquiao himself, knows when he’ll hang up his boxing gloves for good. But at the same time, his recent fight showed that despite his well-decorated career, nobody beats Father Time. As we wait for Pacman’s career decision, let’s look back at five of his most legendary fights of all time.
Pacquiao vs Cotto (2009)
Many boxing fans argue that 2009-2011 was peak Pacquiao. He had impeccable speed, strategic angles, and a solid flurry of punches to his opponents at that time. His match with Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto was inarguably a representation of Pacman as a dominant fighter.
The second round showed Pacquiao giving jaw-dropping combination punches, while the third round shocked fans since it ended up in Cotto’s knockout. What made this fight entertaining to watch was how Pacquiao displayed total dominance in every round.
Pacquiao vs De La Hoya (2008)
In 2008, many analysts and sports fans were aware of Pacquiao’s potential to be a boxing legend. However, the moment when his fight against Oscar De La Hoya was announced, majority of the bets favored the American boxer.
De La Hoya, nicknamed the “Golden Boy of Boxing” at that time, had done an excellent job of never getting beaten up prior to this fight. He lost some matches and delivered mediocre performances but Pacquiao demolished him into retirement in 2009.
Even if De La Hoya had a clear strategy in earlier rounds, Pacquiao’s counter-jabs threw him off his game. It also showed the Pinoy boxer’s ability as a technical fighter and vastly outclassed dela Hoya in speed.
Pacquiao vs Margarito (2010)
Another match that showed Pacquiao going against the odds, and biological advantage, was against Antonio Margarito of Mexico. The Mexican had an aggressive pressure fighting style, dominating presence, and he’s way taller than the Filipino. The end of their fight, however, showed that Pacquiao can brutally slaughter a fighter to a messy bloody pulp.
This match remains one of the most entertaining fights of Pacquiao’s Mexecutioner era, even as fans, analysts, and casual sports fans felt sorry for Margarito’s bloodied face. Despite Pacman’s clear victory, he however admitted in a 2010 post-fight press conference that this match during that time was the “hardest fight in his whole boxing career.”
Pacquiao vs Morales II (2006)
The second chapter of the Manny Pacquiao-Erik Morales trilogy was one for the history books. For starters, this was one of the boxing matches that catapulted the “Pambansang Kamao” into superstardom. It also felt like a redeeming and an all-or-nothing match against the Mexican boxer after his loss in 2005.
Aside from Pacquiao's win via technical knockout at the 10th round, it also showed the aggression of both fighters displaying their own styles at an impressive feat. Another noteworthy feat was the Filipino boxer finally acknowledging that he can play up his technique and not just rely on his Southpaw abilities. It also showed Morales’ impressive tenacity all throughout the fight, solidifying his alias as “El Terrible.”
Pacquiao vs Marquez III (2011)
One of the most noteworthy chapters of Pacquiao’s Mexecutioner era is his fighting tetralogy against Juan Manuel Marquez—despite its bitter end. Their third fight, though, is arguably one of the most noteworthy matches in boxing history due to the split reaction from sports fans and boxing analysts.
The fight showcased an impressive flurry of technique between Pacquiao and Marquez, with the Filipino using his lightning-quick punches and Marquez with his powerful jabs. By the end of the match, Pacquiao’s win via close decision lit up the boxing world, with many saying it should have gone the other way. It also gave birth to the infamous “Marquez foot-stomping controversy” at that time.
Even Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach revealed that he wanted Pacman to face Marquez instead of American boxer Shane Mosley in a 2011 interview.
Banner and thumbnail photos from Metro Sports TV/YouTube, HBO Boxing/YouTube, and Patrick T. Fallon/AFP