Philippine Showbiz Today Vol 12 no 3 - Page 23

Philippine Showbiz Today 23
February 8 - 21 , 2017

Philippine Showbiz Today 23

22 years and counting

Twenty-two years ago last January 22 , 1995 , in the town of Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro , a skinny little boy with a left hook as a weapon , who had to put coins in his pocket to make it to the 106-pound weight limit , would march triumphantly with a unanimous decision over a certain Enting Ignacio in his debut as a professional fighter .
Only a few of those who watched the four-round fight would have guessed that the barely 4 ’ 11 ’ stowaway from General Santos City in faraway Mindanao who lived a vagabond life in the Big City , would someday become the toast of the boxing world by winning one world championship after another in eight weight divisions .
No fighter in the history of sweet science has won world titles in more weight classes than the Filipino legend , an amazing run of championship conquest from the 106-pound category to as high as 154 pounds .
Pacquiao won his first world crown as a flyweight at the expense of Thai Chatchai Sasakul in1998 , three years after turning pro then 12 years later saw himself beating to pulps defending super-welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito to wrest the 154-pound tiara , in the process jumping 48 pounds heavier from where he started .
In forcing Sasakul to submission via an 8th round knockout for the latter ’ s 112-pound-diadem , the still unheralded Kibawe , Bukidnonborn lefty was down on all three scorecards bus showed too much power at round ’ s end to to send the Thai down for good with a cracking left that , to many boxing
Manny Pacquiao ’ s career started in the lowliest junior flyweight class , jumped seven divisions higher to become the only fighter in the universe champion in all of them
writers , served as his calling card .
In between Sasakul and Margarito , the former Sarangani Congressman now Senator Pacquiao crawled to six weight classes more to superbantamweight ( 122 pounds ), featherweight ( 126 pounds ), super-featherweight ( 130 pound ), lightweight ( 135 pounds ), juniorwelterweight ( 140 pounds ) and welterweight ( 147 pounds ), winning , too , the titles in all .
On the way to the juniormiddleweight plum , the Fighter of the Decade honoree of the Boxing Writers Association of America manhandled one after another African Lehlo Ledwaba , Mexcans Marco Antonio Barrera , Juan Manuel Marquez and David Diaz , Miguel Cotto and Margarito .
In the history-making eighth title win over Margarito , Pacquiao came 17 pounds lighter on fight night but still managed to hand the taller , heftier title-defender a savage beating that many believed should have been stopped in the later rounds . The Pacman , who barely weighed 144.6 ounds at fight night , inflicted a careerthreatening eye injury although he did take some heavy shots from him .
Against Ledwaba , the soonto-be three-time Fighter of the Year was completely unknown being only a substitute to an injured Enrique Sanchez . Fighting for the first time under the tutelage of new trainer Freddie Roach , t he Filipino proved a revelation as he swarmed Ledwaba , considered the No . 1 junior featherweight at the time and a guy who was very high on . Pacquiao just destroyed him , breaking his nose in the first round and dropping him in the second and sixth for the second of his eighth world crown .
From super-bantamweight , the underdog Filipino pride moved still one weight heavier to featherweight and battled future Hall of Famer Barrera , the lineal titleholder , dropped the latter in the third and 11rh rounds en route to an 11th round TKO triumph , beating a legend , that win earned for Pacquiao the honor of a legend .
A distinction he carried in his second encounter with Mexican great Marquez , whom he drew the first time they met despite sending him kissing he canvass three times in the opening round . One of the judges admitted having submitted a wrong scorecard that spelled the draw verdict . Paquiao floored Marquez in the third round of the second serving to earn a split decision victory , giving him the super-featherweight title , his fourth jewel .
Four down , three to go . Pacquiao set his sight next on the lightweight belt held by David Diaz and like the four previous championship harvests , Pacquiao emerged victorious via a 9th round TKO , elevating himself to the top of the poundfor-pound list . It was a bloody , one-sided demolition of the crown holder , a guy with a big heart but wanting the skills , speed and power of Pacquiao .
That was a victory that led many , including Pacquiao himself , to believe that there are still many rooms upstairs to fill . And the father of five to wife , former Sarangani Vice Gov . Jinkee , continued scaling until he reached the top other ring warriors before him , including Fighter of Century Sugar Ray Robinson and even heavyweight great Muhammad Ali never even approximated .
Only two remained standing on the way to greatness – Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto – and the ‘ Little Brown Doll ’ from the tiny island called ‘ Pearl of the Orient ’ completed his haul by demolishing both six months apart in 2009 .
On May 2 that year , Pacquiao , fresh from his demolition of Oscar De La Hoya in a non-title welterweight fight , his first in the 147-pound Pacquiao challenged lineal junior welterweight champion Hatton . He dropped his rival flat on his back in the second round in the most devastating knockout of his career . It was a one shot blow that was heard , as he cliché goes , in all four corners of the world .
Half-a-year later on November 14 , 2009 , also in Las Vegas , Pacquiao took on Cotto in his second assignment as a welterweight and went home with the 147-pound jewel in his pocket following a 12th round stoppage . That win came as his most impressive performance of his entire career . He sent kissing the heavily- tatooed Cotto kissingdnthe maa in the third and fourth rounds , busted him up , walked him down and stopped him cold .
Pacquiao could have actually won belts in 10 of boxing ’ s 17 weight classes had he campaigned at junior bantamweight and bantamweight levels . He skipped the two divisions and instead jumped to super-bantam .
Besides his eight-division jewels , Pacquiao is also the only fighter to have been crowned lineal champion in five weight categories – flyweight , featherweight , junior lightweight , junior-welterweight and welterweight . ●
- Photos by Wendell Alinea / OSMP