Manny Pacquiao's seven defining fights: From Juan Manuel Marquez to Floyd Mayweather

Filipino boxing superstar announced his retirement on Wednesday, bringing an end to an historic career

Manny Pacquiao announced his retirement from boxing on Wednesday, closing the curtain on one of the finest careers the sweet science has ever witnessed.

Pacquiao, 42, hangs up the gloves following a career spanning more than 26 years and 72 fights. He won 62 of his bouts - 39 inside the distance - lost eight and drew two. He is boxing's only ever eight-weight world champion and is also the only boxer to hold world titles across four different decades.

Pacquiao, a senator in his native Philippines, has chosen to walk away from the ring to focus on his political career. Earlier this month he was nominated to run for president in the 2022 Philippine elections.

Reflecting on a truly unprecedented career, here are seven of Pacquiao's most defining career fights.

1) WBC world flyweight title vs Chatchai Sasakul, December 1998

Perhaps the least heralded of Pacquiao’s world titles, but as it was his first, it rightly deserves a place on this list. While Sassakul is perhaps not the household name of other Pacquiao conquests, the Thai entered the fight having lost just once in his career – to Yuri Arbachakov, who he subsequently beat to end the Russian’s 10-fight title defence of the WBC strap.

Having successfully defended his title twice, Sasakul ran into trouble when he met Pacquiao, aged 19 at the time, in Thailand. Before the eighth round knockout, Pacquiao was down on all three judge’s scorecards, but that mattered little when he unloaded a barrage of punches, culminating in a straight left that landed flush on Sasakul’s jaw. Pacquiao had won his first world title.

2) IBF World super bantamweight title vs Lehlo Ledwaba, June 2001

This fight truly was the start of Pacquiao’s path towards superstardom. It was the Filipino’s first fight in the United States, and his first on HBO – the network that would eventually secure Pacquiao to an exclusive deal. It was also his first under a new trainer – a certain Freddie Roach.

On top of all that, he took this fight at two weeks’ notice. Pacquiao went about destroying the South African champion from the start. Ledwaba was bleeding from the nose by the end of Round 1. Pacquiao then had Ledwaba down in the second, had him wobbling in the fourth and fifth, and had him down again in the sixth.

When a trademark Pacquiao assault had Ledwaba down yet again in Round 6, referee Joe Cortez decided enough was enough. The States had no choice but to sit up and notice the Pac-Man.

3) WBC world super featherweight title vs Juan Manuel Marquez, March 2008

The second in their four-part series of fights, Pacquiao and Marquez had drawn the first instalment in 2004, and four years later the pair were back in Las Vegas to settle the score. However, this was another contentious affair, with Pacquiao winning the fight and the WBC belt by split decision after a close contest.

Marquez landed more punches at a higher percentage, although Pacquiao’s come-forward style – alongside a third round knockdown – handed the edge to the Filipino according to two of the three judges. Marquez’s camp cried foul, believing their fighter won the bout and demanded a rematch, which Pacquiao refused having set his sights on a move up to lightweight and David Diaz’s WBC world title.

4) WBC World lightweight title vs David Diaz, June 2008

Three months after his win over Marquez, Pacquiao made the step up to lightweight to face American WBC champion Diaz. The added weight made no difference to Pacquiao’s ferocious speed, as he dominated the fight before ending it with a ninth round knockout.

Diaz, whose face was a swollen mess by the end of the fight, acknowledged he could not handle the pace of his opponent. “It was his speed. It was all his speed,” he said. “I could see the punches, but he was just too fast.” The victory meant Pacquiao became the first Asian boxer to win world titles in five weight divisions.

5) WBO world welterweight title vs Miguel Cotto, November 2009

Following the Diaz win, Pacquiao increased his profile in the sport further with stoppage victories against Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton. But it was his performance against Cotto that not only earned Pacquiao his first world title at welterweight, but also cemented his claim as being the best pound-for-pound fighter of his generation.

Pacquiao won all but one of the first eleven rounds of the bout with Cotto, according to the judges’ scorecards. By the time of the final round, the punishment became too much for the Puerto Rican, who had already been knocked down in the third and fourth rounds.

After another Pacquiao onslaught left Cotto unable to continue, referee Kenny Bayliss stepped in to end the brutality. Pacquiao was now the first ever seven-division world champion.

6) WBA (Unified), WBC, and The Ring welterweight titles vs Floyd Mayweather Jr, May 2015

In the years following Pacquiao's destruction of Cotto, the boxing world clamoured for one fight and one fight only. The showdown against Mayweather finally arrived on May 2, 2015, shattering pay-per-view records and generating more than $410 million in revenue in the United States alone.

However, the fight itself failed to live up to the delirious hype as Mayweather claimed a unanimous points win at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pacquiao struggled to penetrate the world class defences of the American, who in turn was accused of being too defensive.

Pacquiao later revealed that he had sustained a shoulder injury in training in the lead-up to the fight and had aggravated the problem during the fourth round.

7) WBA (Super) welterweight title vs Keith Thurman, July 2019

Following his defeat to Mayweather, Pacquiao would avenge his controversial loss to Timothy Bradley and become world champion once again when he took Jessie Vargas' WBO welterweight belt in a lopsided points win. A disappointing defeat to Jeff Horn in his first title defence followed but Pacquiao got his hands on the WBA belt when he stopped Lucas Martin Matthysse in the seventh round in his next fight.

A successful defence followed with a points win over Adrien Broner before Pacquiao put his belt on the line against the WBA's super welterweight champion Keith Thurman in Las Vegas.

The Filipino enjoyed a blistering start by flooring Thurman in the first round but the American found his way into a close bout as the rounds were shared. Pacquiao pounced again in the 10th, landing a crunching body shot that left Thurman reeling.

Going to the judges' scorecards, Pacquiao was named the victor on a split decision to become the first four-time welterweight champion and the only fighter to hold world titles in four different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s).

Updated: September 29th 2021, 10:17 AM
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