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The greatest boxer ever

Two-time world boxing champion Gerry Peñalosa insists he’s not biased but from his objective point of view, Manny Pacquiao is the greatest fighter who ever lived. “It’s not because Manny’s a friend and I’m Filipino,” says Peñalosa who was the WBC superflyweight ruler in 1997-98 and WBO bantamweight king in 2007-08. “I honestly believe Manny’s the greatest ever and it’s because no one can surpass or even duplicate what he has done. He’s the only fighter in history to win world titles in eight divisions from 112 pounds to 154, from flyweight to superwelterweight. It could’ve been 10 divisions but Manny went from flyweight to superbantamweight so he skipped superflyweight and bantamweight.”

Peñalosa says Sugar Ray Leonard is a close second in his book. “In terms of talent, my choice is Leonard but in terms of achievement, no one comes close to Manny,” he says. “If they fought in their prime, it would be quite a match. Manny isn’t just strong, he’s also quick. What makes his punch so powerful is he delivers with all of his heart and soul, like he puts his entire body behind every shot. Line them up. Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, Aaron Pryor, Alexis Arguello, Marvelous Marvin Hagler. If they fought Manny at the same weight, Manny would win every fight. Hearns was strong but Manny would take him out because of his glass jaw. Against Leonard, it would just be a matter of time before Manny lands. Manny is a volume puncher and when he fights 12 rounds, you won’t be able to avoid getting hit.”

Peñalosa says not even Muhammad Ali did what Pacquiao has done. Pacquiao turned pro as a minimumweight, scaling 106 pounds in his debut. Then, he moved up in weight to win world titles at flyweight, superbantamweight, featherweight, superfeatherweight, lightweight, superlightweight, welterweight and superwelterweight. Ali was a heavyweight throughout his career and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. claimed world titles in the superfeatherweight, lightweight, superlightweight, welterweight and superwelterweight divisions or three short of Pacquiao’s record.

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Top Rank CEO Bob Arum once came up with his list of the world’s top 10 greatest fighters and Ali topped the honor roll with Pacquiao next in line because of his “blinding speed and power.” The other fighters in Arum’s top 10, in order, were Leonard, Hagler, Duran, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Arguello, Julio Cesar Chavez and Carlos Monzon.

“Pacquiao has thrilled fans the world over with his all-action style and he has captured the imagination of his countrymen who worship the man who has claimed some form of title recognition in an incredible eight weight divisions,” notes Boxing News of London. “They say crime stops in the Philippines when he fights as everyone comes together to watch him in action and it’s then when the punishment – in the ring – begins.” Boxing News put Pacquiao No. 42 in its list of the world’s 100 greatest fighters. Sugar Ray Robinson was No. 1, Ali No. 2 and Henry Armstrong No. 3. Mayweather was No. 41, a notch higher than Pacquiao.

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There’s no doubt that Pacquiao will inevitably be enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. So far, only three Filipinos have been inducted – Pancho Villa, Flash Elorde and Lope Sarreal, Sr. A clamor to include the Philippines’ only world middleweight champion Ceferino Garcia has been ignored by Hall of Fame authorities.

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Pacquiao, 39, fought only once this year, losing to Jeff Horn in Brisbane before the largest crowd ever to witness his fight last July. The attendance was 51,025, eclipsing the crowd of 50,994 that packed the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for Pacquiao’s win over Joshua Clottey in 2010. Horn won by a unanimous decision to wrest the WBO welterweight crown. American referee Mark Nelson tolerated Horn’s dirty tricks that left Pacquiao bleeding from cuts inflicted by headbutts and exhausted because of the roughhousing. 

“I’m still scratching my head over the Pacquiao-Horn scorecards and those who believe Horn deserved the decision,” wrote Michael Rosenthal of The Ring Magazine. “It seemed obvious to me that Pacquiao landed more and generally better punches than Horn which is the most important factor when scoring a fight. Horn was the more aggressive fighter but it was ‘effective aggression,’ another key criterion in scoring.”

Pacquiao tried to lure Horn with a $3 Million invitation for a rematch at the Philippine Arena but the Australian wants nothing more to do with the Filipino icon. Horn probably realizes he’d lose in a return fight.

So Horn took on English challenger Gary Corcoran in his first defense before only 4,000 fans for a $750,000 purse and now hopes to face Terence Crawford for $5 Million in Las Vegas. Pacquiao, meanwhile, plans to stage a comeback in April, possibly in China, and Horn would be the ideal opponent so he gets a chance to regain the throne.

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