Ever since Manny Pacquiao’s TKO win over Miguel Cotto, I’ve been asking myself one question: “Do Pacquaio fans actually watch boxing?” Don’t get me wrong, the triumphs of the former Filipino flyweight have been impressive, but some of the comments floating around the public are taking it too far. Here is the top three I’d like to address:
Manny Pacquiao is the first fighter to win titles in 7 weight classes.
Well yes and no. In order to officially win a “title”, it must be from one of the four sanctioning bodies: the WBC, WBA, IBF or the WBO. But during his campaign as featherweight and his brief stop at light welterweight, he only won “The Ring” championship – a title owned by a self-interested promotional company. Some would argue that belts shouldn’t matter because he fought the best at both weights, but under that same argument, has he fought the best in the other divisions? At lightweight he beat only the b-rated belt holder David Diaz and never challenged the division’s best, such as former gold medalist Joel Casamayor, the seasoned veteran Nate Campbell, or the former champion Juan Diaz. So which one is it, fighting for the belt or fighting the best? You can’t have it both ways.
Manny Pacquiao has faced the best competition.
Perhaps in name, but not in form. Pacquiao’s opponents were chosen when they either presented a clear weakness to exploit, or were forced into one. Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s longtime trainer, was quoted on ESPN saying, “Cotto would be slowed by having to come in 2 pounds lower than his normal weight,” due to the catch-weight stipulated in the fight contract. De La Hoya was a walking punching bag for fighting at a weight that he hadn’t seen in seven years, and Hatton is, well, Hatton. His face-forward, aggression-first style is a perfect matchup for Manny, a reason why during the weight negotiations for the Cotto bout, Team Pacquiao virtually ignored Shane Mosley when he waltzed in to offer a fight at 140 (a weight in which Shane has never competed) and instead opted to take on Cotto 5lbs heavier, because stylistically, Cotto was the easier fight.
Manny Pacquiao is the greatest boxer ever.
There is only one “Greatest” in boxing and his name is Muhammad Ali. Because of his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War, Ali was not only forced into a 5-year exile from boxing, but also robbed of the prime years of his career, yet despite those setbacks, he still managed to reemerge and capture the heavyweight championship. Twice. And even then, the accomplishments of Sugar Ray Robinson trump those of Ali. What Pacquiao has done in recent times is indeed impressive, but he hasn’t even skimmed the legacy that these two have created.
Let’s get this straight. I am a huge fan of Manny Pacquiao. I gave him a very biased five-point decision in the first Marquez fight, damn near cried in his loss to Erik Morales, and I am overjoyed by the fact that he instills hope for the globally impoverished.
But I am a fan of boxing first.
I am a purist at heart and obsessed with preserving the sport’s history. But what I love about the Sweet Science is that its “history” can be intelligently debated and at the end of the day, I’m always open for a good argument with a well-informed fight fan. But if you’re someone who thinks they suddenly know boxing because they just jumped onto the Pacquiao express, or if I lost you after my first point, don’t bother wasting my inbox space.