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Friday, March 12, 2010

Pacquiao: World’s only Seven-division Champ

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13 Mar 2010

Boxing writers named him as having re-invented the sport of sweet science, inspired millions, perhaps billions of people around the world. It would not be an overstatement that Manny Pacquiao is being hailed these days as the savior of a sport and a nation.

The Filipino boxer, who barely stands at 5ft 6½ inches , is universally regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, a point he emphatically demonstrated the past decade by crowning himself world champion in seven weight classes, the last the welteweight belt at the expense of Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto only November of last year, in the process enriching himself by US$13 million.

No less that Bob Arum, his promoter who head Top Rank, believes Pacquiao, otherwise – known as “ Pacman”, is the one boxer responsible for a resurrection of the long-dormant sport.

As for his countrymen, he approximates the status of deity.

Every time he fights, crime in the country drops to virtually zero. Whenever Pacquiao’s fights are on television. Shooting between army troops and the rebels in the south or elsewhere actually stopped.
All this simply adds to his status in as a humble superstar who gives away thousands of dollars each year to help his fellow countrymen cope with grinding poverty.

Born 31 years ago in the little-known town of Kibawe, Bukidnon in far south Mindanao, Pacquiao grew up selling breads and flowers to help keep his family in food. Like many of his countrymen, he had no shoes, little formal education and no future until he fled home at 14 to try his luck in prizefighting.
From the time he won his first professional fight, a four-rounder by decision, on January 22, 1995, rose from a 106-pound fighter to someone who has won world titles at flyweight (112), super-bantamweight (122), featherweight (126), super-featherweight (130), lightweight (135), light-welterweight (140) and welterweight (147).
His victims include Ricky Hatton, Oscar DeLa Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera, and |Erik Morales, future Hall of Famers all and, in baseball, members of the murderers’ row in the batting order. Those victories catapulted the Filipino icon to the world pound-for-pound throne, a mythical title he has worn the past three years.

Pacquiao has fought 55 times, six fewer than the great Muhammad Ali and had boxed the same number of rounds (305) that Sugar Ray Leonard had when he retired.

Reason why even on the very eve of his fight with Ghanaian challenger Joshua Clottey for his welterweight plum on Sunday, debate on whether he should retire continues.

And chief trainer Freddie Roach, who has been handling him since 2001 as a flyweight champ,, has been pursuing the issue as a reminds of the perils of an overextended boxing career, as he battles the effects of pugilistic Parkinson's syndrome.

"It's hard to say. Is this my last fight? We'll see," Pacquiao, for his part, said. "One never knows. It's still so early to be talking about this, but I do like the thought of going out on top."We did a lot in boxing, achieved a lot -- more than what we set out to do."

Arum though, citing money as reason, said he was "inclined to doubt" that his star fighter would walk away from the sport
Another reason could be politics as the 31-year-old father of four with wife Jinkee is running anew for congress in the lone district of Srangani province.
Despite his iconic stature, he was unsuccessful when he ran for the Philippine Congress in 2007. Undaunted, he is running again this year.
Time magazine honored in 2009 ranked Pacquiao among the 100 people who most affect the world. Among his peers were Sister Mary Scullion, an advocate for the homeless in Philadelphia, and Suraya Pakzad, a women's rights activist in Afghanistan. He also appeared in the Time cover, the first Asian athlete to have been honored.
Pacquiao was already a pretty good fighter when he walked into Roach's Los Angeles gym in 2001 and asked Roach to be his new trainer. Pacquiao had won 31 of 35 bouts outside the United States and already owned the first of his major titles, the WBC flyweight (112-pound) championship. But the fighter, who relied almost exclusively on his dominant left hand, sensed he needed more if he wanted to conquer the sport in the United States. Roach agreed.

Roach, whom Pacquiao referred to as his “master”, tutored technique and preached the importance of ring strategy. He taught the importance of angles as well as the art of hitting and running. In the end, it has been a match made in boxing heaven. In their first fight together, Pacquiao won the IBF super bantamweight (122-pound) championship in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao has won his last 11 bouts by KO, including a career-ending against DeLa Hoya. He’s been voted Fighter of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009 by the Boxing Writers Association of America. Has a 90-1-2 record in world championship fights.


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