10 most riveting Pacman fights

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Here’s a tough one. What would you consider to be the 10 best Manny Pacquiao fights in his ring career? There’s surely a lot to choose from. He logged a total of 72 bouts, winning 62, losing eight and drawing twice from 1995 to 2021. The losses on points to Jeff Horn, Floyd Mayweather and Tim Bradley were disputed but there’s no point debating who really deserved to win because history is what it is. Pacquiao beat Bradley decisively twice after their first meeting and Mayweather wouldn’t agree to a rematch. As for Horn, the Australian got a lift not only from the judges but also referee Mark Nelson who allowed him to elbow, butt and roughhouse without a single warning.

My first five of Pacquiao’s 10 best fights were, not in order of preference:

1. Chatchai Sasakul, Dec. 4, 1998, Tonsuk College Ground, Phuttamonthon, Thailand.  Pacquiao trailed in the three judges scorecards, 68-65, 70-64, 69-64, when in the eighth round, he cracked a left hook on the Thai’s jaw, sending the defending WBC flyweight champion down for the full count. Chatchai tried to get up but couldn’t as his legs wouldn’t budge and he cried in frustration. It was Pacquiao’s first world title and he won before a hostile crowd in an outdoor makeshift arena.

2. Lehlo Ledwaba, June 23, 2001, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas. This was Pacquiao’s US debut and he took the fight on two weeks notice after original challenger Enrique Sanchez backed out because of a training injury. The fight was in the undercard of the main event between Oscar de la Hoya and Javier Castillejo. Pacquiao bloodied Ledwaba’s nose in the first round and decked the defending IBF superbantamweight titlist thrice before referee Joe Cortez stopped it at 0:59 of the sixth with the Filipino ahead on three identical scorecards, 50-44. Pacquiao pocketed his second world crown.

3. Marco Antonio Barrera, Nov. 15, 2003, Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas. Referee Laurence Cole ruled a knockdown on Pacquiao when it was clearly a slip in the first round but the Filipino shrugged it off and proceeded to floor Barrera in the third and 11th. The Mexican was defenseless against the ropes when his trainer Rudy Perez threw in the towel, prompting Cole to wave it off at 2:56 of the 11th. Pacquiao led, 97-90 twice, 97-89, at the time of the stoppage. The win was for the Ring Magazine and “people’s” world featherweight championship.

4. Erik Morales, Nov. 18, 2006, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas. It was a rubber match as Morales won their first encounter on points and Pacquiao evened it up with a 10th round TKO. The climax of the trilogy was emphatic as Pacquiao decked Morales once in the second round and twice in the third before the Mexican looked at his father Jose in his corner, shaking his head to signal surrender on a knee. Pacquiao landed 94 punches, including 83 power shots, to Morales’ 44 to dominate the action from start to finish. The fight was for the WBC International superfeatherweight belt.

5. Oscar de la Hoya, Dec. 6, 2008, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas. No title was at stake even as promoters called it a Dream Match with a catchweight of 145 pounds. De la Hoya scaled 145 and Pacquiao, 142. From the onset, Pacquiao dictated the tempo, dizzying the Golden Boy with a variety of punches. De la Hoya had no answer for Pacquiao’s aggressiveness, quickness and artillery. At the end of the eighth round, his left eye was almost swollen shut and he called an end to the carnage on his stool. Pacquiao was ahead on the three scorecards, 79-72, 80-71 twice when the curtains fell. De la Hoya retired after the massacre.

The next five of Pacquiao’s greatest fights will be revealed in Tuesday’s column.

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