When we talk about sportsmanship and class in boxing, Manny ‘PacMan’ Pacquiao, the Filipino ring legend and the sports only 8-division world champion is on the top of the list.
Who would have thought Manny Pacquiao who turned professional as a flyweight in 1995 would still be relevant and competing in the welterweight division in 2019?
It takes a special fighter and person to be able to climb the weight divisions and to compete with these young lions while juggling multiple jobs and responsibilities outside of the ring.
Pacquiao trains hard and makes no excuses. Many younger fighters today have grown spoiled and will become lazy once they get a taste of glory and riches. They stop training like the young hungry fighters they once were, while a 41-year-old Pacquiao holds a full-time job as a Senator in the Philippines, is a devoted family man, and trains like the poor kid who once lived on the streets of Manila with only a few pesos to his name.
When we look at an old school fighter we should also take into account the way they carry themselves.
A lot of the younger generation boxers like to post foolish things on social media, degrade women, and disrespect their opponents.
Pacquiao is cut from a different cloth, he is a throwback to an era and the reason they used to call boxing the gentleman’s sport because they would fight in the ring with their fists and shake hands after with no bad blood toward their adversary.
Pacquiao’s victory over a 30-year-old, trash talking, prime, undefeated Keith Thurman amazed me. I never thought at 40, the PacMan still had that type of performance in him. I knew he had the heart of a lion but he took all of Thurman’s power punches and was able to hurt the arrogant American several times.
His win over Thurman for the WBA welterweight title made Pacquiao the oldest welterweight champion in the history of the sport. That win alone was enough for him to secure the 2019 “Fighter of the Year” award for me.
Only two boxers have won the coveted “Fighter of the Decade” award, Roy Jones Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
Roy who was a lightening bolt of explosive athleticism in his prime but fell off in his mid 30s, whereas Pacquiao continued to shine and compete at the highest level of boxing.
I think Pacquiao deserves the “Fighter of the Decade” again, because of his longevity and his overall career. From 2010 to 2019 he fought 16 times and lost 4 and won WBO and WBA welterweight title’s.
He was knocked out cold by Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez and everyone thought he was done, but he came back to prove the doubters wrong and became a world champion again.
He was robbed twice in the decade first to Timothy Bradley in 2012 and then Jeff Horn in 2017, but always kept his composure even in wrongful defeat. No matter what you throw at him, the Filipino southpaw will take it in stride and continues to show the world that he is a true legend.
For me the “Fighter of the Decade” signifies the person as well as the boxer. Pacquiao has all the traits outside of the ring and inside, he is a warrior inside the ring with heart, and he is also a warrior for the poor people in the Philippines. He fights for those who have less, and inspires people to achieve their dreams regardless of the adversity in their way.
Manny Pacquiao is a once in a life time fighter and human being, and he deserves to be the 2019 Fighter of the Year and the Fighter of the Decade.