Before Manny Pacquiao became a household name among combat sports fans, many related his birthplace, The Philippines, to the flamboyant lifestyle of former president Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos and as a stopover for military personnel on their way to Asia.
Emmanuel Dapiran Pacquiao, born on December 17, 1978, started his professional boxing career in 1995. Four years later, he won the first of eight world championships in eight different divisions starting as a flyweight. He would go on and win another title as a super bantamweight before his baptism of fire when he faced Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera as a headliner at the Alamodome in 2003.
After knocking out Barrera, he had the first of four clashes against Juan Manuel Márquez, whom he beat in May 8, 2004 in Las Vegas to secure his third title, this time as a featherweight and then started his impressive run against many of the best fighters in the world.
Pacquiao failed to win his fourth belt when he lost via unanimous decision against Erik Morales, a loss he avenged later by TKO defending the World Boxing Council International super featherweight title. At this time, in 2007, he was already a household name in the United States and around the world.
20 years ago all I wanted was a chance. A chance to prove myself on a big stage and make my dreams come true. Always prepare hard so that when the opportunity comes, you are ready! pic.twitter.com/QW7tanD86P
— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) April 27, 2021
He won his fifth title, this time as a lightweight, defeating David Diaz in Las Vegas, before rolling over an aging Oscar De La Hoya, who quit in the seventh round, in a non title fight.
Any other boxer would have already earned a Hall of Fame spot after Pacquiao’s accomplishments at that point in his career, but the future politician was not done yet.
Over the next few years, Pacquiao defeated Ricky Hatton with a brutal 2nd round knockout to take the International Boxing Organization super lightweight crown, then stopped future Hall of Famer, Puertorrican Miguel Cotto in the 12th round to add his sixth title, the WBO welterweight crown to his record. Mexican Antonio Margarito lost his super welterweight title to Pacquiao in 2011 at Cowboys Stadium to round up what no other boxer has done since: be the world champion in eight different weight divisions.
Since then, Pacquiao settled at 147 pounds, where he has been champion on three different occasions. His latest fight saw him go up to 154 to challenge unbeaten Keith Thurman, with Pacman winning by split decision on July 2019.
Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather and Márquez
Besides his four fights against Marquez, Pacquiao had the multi-million dollar clash against Floyd Mayweather, a fight that took years to develop and ended up being negotiated basically on a basketball court. Mayweather took the unanimous decision against an injured Pacquiao, who suffered from an torn shoulder and did not want the fight to be postponed. The event generated what is today a record 4.4 million Pay Per View buys.
“He had an injured shoulder and I thought he won the fight. He was moving. It’s not easy to throw punches when he’s moving that much. It’s not about size. Size doesn’t matter. I fought better. I thought I caught him many more times than the ones he caught me,” said Pacquiao after the fight.
Another of Pacquiao’s most memorable moments in his career was his fourth fight against Márquez, which he personally requested from the Mexican in an analysis TV broadcast after the controversial loss suffered against Timothy Bradley Jr. Winning two of the first three fights, including a controversial draw in the third, the Filipino warrior was surprised by an uppercut from the Mexican that knocked him down and delivered his only knockout.
“I was careless. He is not an easy opponent,” Pacquiao told ESPN after the fight, which he dominated according to the judges’ score.
Manny Pacquiao, the politician
Pacquiao’s huge success as a boxer made him the most important figure in his native Philippines, a distinction he takes very seriously.
The 43 year old, now part time boxer and almost full time politician, owes his rise in politics to his own success story. Born in poverty, Pacquiao struggled early in life and has taken it upon himself to return part of his earnings to the needy in the poverty ridden nation.
He has used his own money to develop projects for the needy, which keep him connected to his roots. Pacquiao stills keeps in touch and is friends with many of the people he grew up with.
Pacquiao was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 under the People’s Champ Movement banner. He was reelected without opposition in 2013 as a member of the United Nationalist Alliance.
He became a Senator in 2016 under the Partido Demokratiko Filipino, which he presides over. During the last four years, Pacquiao has taken leaves of absence to train for four different fights, most recently against Thurman.
His positions are mostly conservative, as he was raised a devout Catholic although he defines himself now as an Evangelical Protestant. He has opposed same sex marriage bills as well as being a supporter of the death penalty, for drug dealers, which was abolished in Phillippines in 2006.
Pacquiao, the basketball player and recording star
Pacquiao is not only a boxer and a politician.
He has played professional basketball for the Terrafirma Dyips, although that only lasted 10 games over three seasons, He has also recorded three albums, the first one Laban Natin Lahat Ito in 2006, Lalaban Ako Para Sa Pilipino, his most recent one, in 2015.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Pacquiao hasn’t fought since 2019, but he’s not ready to call it quits.
Many names have been shuffled, but it’s rumored he’s getting ready to face Mexican-American Mikey Garcia.