One of the most anticipated fights in the boxing world is the rumored match between the unassuming Manny Pacquiao and the “King of Boxing” Oscar de la Hoya that may take place in the month of December at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Without a doubt, this fight will bring enthusiasts and non-boxing enthusiasts together to witness one of the most historic boxing matches of all time. Physically, Oscar is the bigger man – “It will be like an adult bullying a young boy,” said a source from de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. However, with Oscar being at the cusp of retirement, Pacquiao might just kick out the walker beneath Oscar and take his crown. In many ways, Pacquiao has already won. Hailing from the impoverished country of the Philippines, he has transcended the limitations of his home country to become one of the best fighters in boxing.
Emmanuel Dapigran Pacquiao was born December 17, 1978, in Bukidnon, Mindinao, Philippines. While still in grade school, the young Pacquiao sold bread locally to help support his family. He started fighting in the streets for small purses and, eventually, his superb boxing skills were recognized. At age 15, Pacquiao was sent to Manila to be molded into a professional boxer. One year later, in 1995, he began fighting professionally as a sleek 106-pound teenage brawler against the Philippines’ best boxers. After defeating Edmund Ignacio in four rounds, he became a household name. Pacquiao won his next ten fights before his first loss to Rustico Torrecampo on February 9, 1996. However, according to sportcaster Joaquin “Quinto” Henson, Paquiao was at disadvantage because he had to use heavier gloves since he didn’t make weight. Paquiao’s first professional loss did not slow him down at all; momentum built as he put together a series of victories over the next two years against experienced Filipino fighters.
But the fight that defined his career was his bout against Mexican boxer and three-time world champion, Marco Antonio Barrera, in 2003. By this time Pacquiao had won and retained three belts in different weight divisions. Pacquiao had to move up in weight for his first fight in the featherweight division. The extra weight didn’t slow Pacquiao down; his superb speed and power helped to defeat Barrera via a TKO in the eleventh round at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. By the end of 2006, Ring Magazine and HBO declared Pacquiao the fighter of the year.
Up to March of 2008, Pacquiao fought Mexico’s finest fighters earning the title of “The Mexicutioner” and world super featherweight champion. During his latest fight in Las Vegas against David Diaz, audiences witnessed how dynamic Pacquiao can be, as he once again increased his weight to 135 pounds to fight for the WBC lightweight title. His trainer, Freddie Roach, said it was the best he’s ever seen Pacquiao box. Speed has always been on Pacquiao’s side. At 135 pounds, he has said that he feels “much stronger and more powerful” and believes that he has found his ideal weight. After the win over Diaz, Pacquiao had won four title belts in four weight divisions and became the first Asian boxer to conquer the boxing world.
If the rumors of a Manny/Oscar fight are true, Pacquiao will once again have to increase weight for a welterweight brawl. Can he beef up and maintain his speed to defy the odds against the Golden Boy? Regardless, it will be the fight of the century (so far).