MANNY Pacquiao’s split decision win over Keith Thurman in an action-packed fight for the world welterweight championship is another memorable chapter in the storied career of the greatest Filipino boxer of all time.
Not only did Pacquiao show he remains one of the world’s elite fighters, but also proved he is still competitive enough to go toe-to-toe against an opponent as sleek and dangerous as Thurman was even at the advanced age of 40.
This is the 24th year of the Pacman as a fighter in a legendary career that began in 1995 when as a skinny 16-year-old, Pacquiao had to put small rocks in his pocket just to make the light-flyweight limit in his professional debut.
In all, he has been involved in more than 30 world title fights and appeared 28 times in major US bouts. He is the only eight-division world champion in boxing history who had been featured in 24 pay-per-view bouts which generated a total amount of $1.2 billion.
He has compiled an impressive record of 62 wins (39 KOs), 7 losses, and two draws in 71 fights and still counting.
Looking back, SPIN.ph lists down the most memorable Pacquiao fights and see where the latest episode with Keith Thurman ranks.
1. Pacquiao versus Oscar De La Hoya (2008) – Hands down, the fight that launched Pacquiao into boxing superstardom. While no world title was at stake, the ‘Golden Boy’ was still the biggest attraction in the sport at the time of the bout. Billed as the ‘Dream Match,’ the fight was fought at a catch weight of 147 lbs. as Pacquiao was going up at the welterweight division for the first time and De La Hoya going down in weight after fighting as middleweight the last few years. The 1992 Olympic gold medalist agreed to take the fight after his projected mega-rematch with Floyd Mayweather was shelved following the unexpected retirement of the ‘Money Man.’ The decision turned out to be a disaster as the underdog Pacquiao, already a rising force in boxing, manhandled the bigger De La Hoya for eight full rounds before the legendary American quit on his stool just before round nine. It was one of the stunning losses in boxing history that four months after, De La Hoya retired from fighting for good.
2. Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (2015) – The highly-anticipated match was long in coming and when it finally did in 2015, expectations were high about an all-action fight pitting two of the best fighters in the world. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to the hype as Mayweather walked away with a unanimous decision win. It didn’t help any Pacquiao’s admission shortly after the bout that he fought the unbeaten American with a shoulder injury that required surgery two weeks later. Nonetheless, the magnitude of the event enthralled the entire sports world that it ended up as the highest-grossing pay-per-view fight in history with 4.6 million buys and a record revenue of $410 million. Mayweather earned a staggering $200 million guaranteed prize purse, while Pacquiao earned $120 million.
3. Pacquiao vs. Marco Antonio Barrera (2003) – Everybody had already taken notice of this so-called ‘Storm of the Pacific’ when he fought Barrera, then considered as the world’s best fighter pound-for-pound, as a massive underdog at the Alamodome in San Antonio. And he did show he’s ready to conquer the world. Pacquiao destroyed the myth behind Barrera by punishing the Mexican with powerful combinations and relentless attacks in a dominating performance. He knocked down Barrera in the third round and did the same in the 11th before the Mexican’s corner threw in the towel to spare the outclassed Barrera from further punishment. No doubt, a boxing legend was born that night.
4. Pacquiao vs. Eric Morales (2005) – In a thrilling fight at featherweight, Pacquiao and Morales went against each other, not backing down and throwing caution to the wind. The fight held before a roaring sellout crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, took a huge twist in the fifth round when Pacquiao suffered a huge cut in his right eye following an accidental headbutt. Despite the distraction, the Filipino kept pressing the action and engaged Morales in fierce toe-to-toe exchanges in what many considered as one of the best final rounds in boxing history. Pacquiao buckled Morales’ knees in the final minute of round 12, but not good enough to turn the tide in his favor, losing by unanimous decision. The fight turned out to be the first of an exciting trilogy.
5. Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (2004) – Who would have thought this will end up as a classic. Pacquiao faced one of the best counter-punchers in Marquez, a tough, athletic Mexican who for years, played second fiddle to his more illustrious compatriots Morales and Barrera. In a fast-paced opening round, Marquez, found himself at the receiving end of Pacquiao’s powerful left that sent him to the seat of his pants three times.
But just when everybody thought the fight would be a breeze for the Filipino, the Mexican rallied in the later rounds as Pacquiao fell prey to Marquez’s super counter-punching. The two warriors would have both their arms raised in triumph when the final bell rang. The fight ended in a controversial draw that set the stage for three more hard-fought battles in a hated ring rivalry.
6. Pacquiao vs Lehlohonolo Ledwaba (2001) - Just months after arriving in the U.S. for the first time, Pacquiao and then manager, the late Rod Nazario, gambled on agreeing to fight Ledwaba on just two weeks’ notice as a late replacement in an International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-bantamweight title fight. Ledwaba, a South African, was then considered as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
With the lefty Pacquiao an unknown before a meticulous U.S. boxing market, the 32-2 underdog Filipino introduced himself to a worldwide audience fighting in the undercard of the Oscar De La Hoya-Javier Castillejo middleweight title bout by scoring a sixth-round technical knockout. It was an impressive American debut for Pacquiao in his first team-up with legendary trainer Freddie Roach. Ledwaba also suffered a broken nose following the fight and was never the same fighter again after that.
7. Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto (2009) – Cotto was a fearsome name then at welterweight whose only loss to Antonio Margarito was clouded with doubt (remember the issue on Margarito’s illegal hand wraps) when his camp sealed a title fight with Pacquiao. But the native of Sarangani province was unfazed by his much bigger Puerto Rican foe, whom he dominated and demolished inside 12 rounds. Cotto went down in rounds three and four before referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight in the final 55 seconds of the last round as Cotto was receiving severe punishment from the Pacman. The victory solidified Pacquiao’s claim as the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter and triggered a discussion about a possible future fight with the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr.
8. Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito (2010) – Pacquiao was ready to face all comers including a fighter as big and as heavy as Antonio Margarito. The Mexican was already campaigning as a light-middleweight when he faced the Filipino for the World Boxing Council (WBC) 154-lbs championship. It was the heaviest weight Pacquiao had campaigned as he gave up six inches in height and 17 lbs. in weight against his towering Mexican foe. What he lacked in heft and height, Pacquiao made up with his superior speed and quickness as he hammered Margarito time and again throughout the 12-round bout. There was no quit in Margarito though, as referee Laurence Cole let the fight continued despite the one-sided outcome which Pacquiao won by unanimous decision. As an aftermath, the Mexican had to undergo surgery a few days after the bout after it was discovered that his right orbital bone had been fractured. Pacquiao’s dominant win earned him the Fighter of the Decade honor.
9. Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman (2019) – Even at his advance age of 40, Pacquiao was still game enough to mix it up with a dangerous and unbeaten fighter as Thurman, who was 10 years younger than him. Pacquiao set the tone of the match by knocking down Thurman late in the first round. The fighting Filipino senator appeared ready to cruise to a one-sided win, but age began to catch up on him in the later rounds. That allowed his 30-year-old American opponent to seize the moment and make it a close fight. Pacquiao got his second wind just as the bout entered its final stretch. The Pacman eked out a split decision win and proved that age is but a number.
10. Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton (2009) – It was short, quick, and vicious. People got what they wanted when Pacquiao squared off with Hatton in a light-welterweight title bout. The Briton from Greater Manchester, England wasn’t the kind who backs down, exactly to Pacquiao’s liking. The two went at each other right away from the opening bell, with the Filipino bombing away and doing most of the damage. Pacquiao knocked down Hatton twice in the first round, but saved his best for last when a looping left hook sent Hatton down unconscious at the 2:59 mark of round 2. The Brit was already rendered unconscious even before he hit the ground that referee Kenny Bayless no longer bothered to count. Hatton retired following the fight and disclosed in a memoir published years later that he contemplated committing suicide after the bitter loss.