LAS VEGAS – Only last year, Manny Pacquiao earned the biggest prize purse of his boxing career after netting US$120 million (P5.5 billion)in a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. that went down as the richest in the history of the sport.
And to think he only earned a measly P1,000 (or $21 based on current rate of P46-$1) when he first turned pro as a skinny teener in a four-rounder held in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.
The then 16-year-old Pacquiao fought his way to a unanimous decision win over Edmund Enting Ignacio.
The Filipino southpaw had no inkling then about how great a career he was about to have. He also couldn't remember how the fight went on.
All he did care about was his measly prize money.
“It was a very small money (that I earned) when I started,” he said on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time) during the final presser of his Saturday welterweight match against Tim Bradley at the MGM Grand here.
“But that was my desire, to box.”
Pacquiao travelled from Manila to Batangas, and then rode a ferry boat for another three hours at sea to reach Mindoro.
Garbed in an all-black suite as he spoke over the podium, Paquiao could only smile at the thought of how he was able to survive the hardship and experience considering he was still in his mid-teens during that time.
As the family’s breadwinner, he needed to bring food to the table, while at the same time, send his brother to school.
And it was through boxing, no matter how brutal the sport is, that Pacquiao found a way to survive.
“I love doing it because that way, I was able to help my family,” he added. “When you have nothing, you don’t care how hard the work is, as long as you can help them.”
Exactly two decades later, Pacquiao was ranked second to Mayweather among the top 100 richest athlete in the world in 2015 by Forbes.
Against Bradley, the Filipino ring legend stands to earn another $20 million (P920 million).
Looking back, Pacquiao admitted he himself doesn't know how it really happened.
"What I have done is beyond my imagination. We all know where I came from," he said.