AFTER seeing Manny Pacquiao fight at this weight for so long, sometimes it’s easy to forget that he started as a scrawny minimumweight 26 years ago. If the stories are true, the then 16-year-old Pacman lied about his weight (by putting a metallic object on his shorts to make the minimum weight) and his age to make his debut.
Twenty-five years and some 40-plus pounds later, the Pacman is still at it, not only fighting for the sake of fighting but facing the elite fighters of his era.
The longevity alone is legendary. Sure, we had the legendary Robert Jaworski in the PBA, who played with the best of Philippine basketball for decades. But Pacman’s greatness isn’t limited to fighting with the country’s best.
The longevity plus the climb in all those weight classes? It’s a one-in-a-generation kind of greatness. One that had him included in the talks for the greatest of all time.
Normally, not one to brag about himself, Manny says one of the motivations for Saturday’s fight is to end the talks about the Goat. Asked by Kate Abdo what he wants to accomplish more in the sport, Pacquiao, always dapper in his suit, said, “To erase the debate on who is the greatest boxer of all time.”
“That would be you?” Abdo replied.
“I don’t know. That’s why I’m still fighting,” then he broke into his signature grin.
But even before the Yordenis Ugas fight, most of his fans are confident they already know the answer to that question.
And of course it’s Manny. Sure, he’s not undefeated like Floyd Mayweather, but he sure did take on all comers. And of course, one thing that favors him is that amazing climb, from 106 all the way to 147 pounds.
He could have won more divisions but Pacman, after failing to make weight in his defense of his 112-belt, decided to jump straight to 122, skipping the 115 and 118. That shows you how rare he is. Fighters, especially those in the lighter divisions, normally jump to the next if they find difficulties in making weight.
But Pacman didn’t and when he made his debut in the US, it was to pound Lehlo Ledwaba to submission in the 122-pound division as a late replacement.
He’ll be facing a late replacement himself on Sunday, but Pacman is not Ledwaba. He’s out there hoping to put an end to the Goat debates.