After a year’s brooding - following the contentious concession of his WBO Welter crown to Jeff Horn in Brisbane, Australia last July - all-time great Manny Pacquiao resurfaces this weekend, intent to adding the WBA 147lb strap held by 39(36)-4 Argentine assassin Lucas Matthysse to his over cluttered sideboard. BoxNation screen live.
In an incomparable 23 ½ year, 68 fight career, the ‘PacMan’ has won eight World Titles in six divisions (spanning 10 weight categories from 112-154lbs), scalping 18 World Champions en route.
Glynn Evans was commissioned with the impossible task of selecting the Filipino southpaw's five finest fights.
1. Thai Racked
Chatchai Sasakul, Phuttamonthon, Thailand, December 1998
‘PacMan’ was just a skeletal eight stone stick of dynamite when he spectacularly introduced himself to the boxing world in the open-air Tonsuk College Grounds, just outside Bangkok.
Still in his teens, yet to complete 12 rounds and fighting overseas for just the second time, young Emanuel was thrust into a WBC Flyweight challenge against a formidable 28 year old Seoul Olympian who’s only reverse in 34, came on points against P4P contender Yuri Arbachakov in Japan.
Lacking the nous and technical sophistication he was later to acquire, the Filipino flap endured a shellacking ‘early doors’ and was adrift by margins of six, five and three points on the official cards after seven sessions.
But if Saskul could breach his defence, he could never break his spirit. Finally, late in round eight, one of the Manny's lethal left hand launches landed right on the tip of the chin, pitching the Thai face first into the Land of Nod. No count required.
2. ‘Baby Face’ Assassinated
Marco Antonio Barrera, San Antonio, Texas, USA, November 2003
The fight which propelled Pacquiao from World Champion to global superstar.
Though no World Title belt was formally at stake, 29-year-old Barrera – beaten by just two men in 60 prior starts – was commonly regarded as the globe’s premier Featherweight and entered the fray as a near 4-1 favourite. A mismatch certainly followed but, for once, the bookmakers bundled.
Pacquiao didn’t just defeat the ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ at the Alamodome, he positively slaughtered him, rising from a dubious first round knockdown to dump Barrera heavily in round three, slice him in round seven and then bludgeon him to submission in round 11. When the Mexican’s corner stormed the ring to save their man, the 24-year-old Filipino was ahead by eight rounds and seven rounds (twice).
With HBO broadcasting live in the US and Sky Sports doing likewise in the UK, Pacquiao’s ferocious talent was exposed across the planet. While he trousered a then career high $700,000, future bounties seldom dipped beneath seven figures.
3. ‘El Terrible’ Terrorized
Erik Morales, Las Vegas, USA, January 2006
Marauding Manny further endorsed his handle as ‘The Mex-ecutioner’ by savagely avenging conqueror Morales before 14,618 in ‘The Battle’ at the Thomas and Mack.
‘El Terrible’, still only 29, was a five-time, three-weight World Champion who’d conceded just three times in 60 and had never previously been stopped. Ten months earlier, the two inches taller Terror of Tijuana had narrowly (but unanimously) outscored Pacquiao in a frenetic Fight of the Year contender.
That setback provoked a severe reprimand from coach Freddie Roach for turning a deaf ear to the pre-fight plan but Manny proved a model of obedience for the replay; moving his head, applying intelligent pressure and torturing the body with both hands.
The result was a brutal beatdown. Morales boxed quite beautifully for five rounds but was eventually broken mentally by Pacquiao’s intelligent, incessant pressure then bashed up physically by his slashing blades. Comfortably ahead on all cards after nine rounds, he left the Mexican cowering on his knees and in a ‘Terrible’ state, in the final minute of round 10.
4. ‘Hitman’ Disarmed
Ricky Hatton, Las Vegas, USA, May 2009
Unquestionably the most spectacular, destructive and chilling display of Pacquiao’s 68 fight career.
Supermanc Hatton, still only 30, had never been mastered in 44 previous starts at 140lbs and, for once, entered with a rare height advantage. Going in, the trade struggled to split the pair.
What transpired at the MGM Grand was a complete mismatch; the ‘PacMan’ proving way too quick, too accurate, too vicious. He mercilessly made Hatton miss, then made him pay, dumping him twice in the opener before closing out late in round two with a left hook that would have stopped a charging rhino in its tracks.
Hatton was ‘out’ before he landed...heavily! Motionless. Class act that he is, the Filipino culled his celebrations, knelt in his corner and prayed from his prostrate victim.
With the Ring and IBO 10st straps at stake, the annihilation served as Pacquiao’s fourth successive win in separate weight divisions. More poignantly, with ‘Money’ Mayweather in temporary retirement, it saw him inherit the sport’s mythical P4P mantle.
5. Cotto Crushed
Miguel Cotto, Las Vegas, USA, November 2009
Fighting at probably his optimal weight (144lbs) and, aged 30, in his absolute prime, Pacquiao proved an unstoppable force bursting with explosive energy as he collected a sixth World Title at six separate weights.
And scalping the 29-year-old Puerto Rican, a surefire future Hall-of-Famer who’d triumphed in 14 of 15 World Championship fights across two divisions, made Manny’s accomplishment all the mightier.
In truth, he battered a reigning (WBO Welter) Champion who was at the peak of his powers and boxing out of his skin.
In a superfight for the ages, Cotto was brilliant but there was an air of invincibility to Pacquiao who dropped his hands in round two and allowed Cotto a few freebies ‘just so I could test his power! ‘He made Cotto look like a f***king Featherweight,’ quipped US fight face Lou DiBella afterwards.
Shifting effortlessly through the gears, Manny forced knockdowns in rounds three and four and left the Latino legend a disfigured mess when referee Kenny Bayliss belatedly dispensed clemency 55 seconds into round 12.
‘We want Floyd’ bellowed the crowd but the ‘Money’ man was not receptive...not then!
Bubbling under.....Lehlo Ledwaba rsc6 (2001), Erik Morales III ko3 (2006), Oscar De La Hoya rtd8 (2008), Antonio Margarito pts12 (2010), Tim Bradley II pts 12 (2014).
Buy BoxNation to watch Manny Pacquiao v Lucas Matthysse on July 14th.