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OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: The rise and fall of Pacquiao as a welterweight

By Eddie Alinea
Sat, 08 Dec 2018

Did you know that the Manny Pacquao-Adrien Broner fight had been broached up as early as two years ago in 2016 when it was reported that the when Filipino ring icon would return to boxing following a brief self-imposed retirement after regaining the World Boxing Organization welterweight title from Tim Bradley?

Pacquiao had just been elected senator then and Top Rank’s Bob Arum, at that time, still was the Pacman’s promoter, was shopping for an opponent. Arum had even reserved the date October 15 and the venue Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for Manny’s return fight.

According to reports, Pacquiao, who was still torn between two loves – boxing and politics -- has even brought up with the Senate leadership the possibility of taking a leave of absence to train for a fight "He is going to fight," Arum said. “I don't know what the date is. He is working with the president of the Philippines Senate to prepare for the fight.”

Reports were that a fight between Pacquiao and the four-division world champion Broner was being negotiated with the approval of then trainer Freddie Roach. But Broner, according to Arum himself priced himself out of the fight.

"That is correct (that Broner priced himself out). I was dealing with (Broner's adviser) Al Haymon on making that fight. Al tried but Broner was asking for crazy money that nobody can afford so he is out and Manny is looking for another opponent," Arum as quoted in an interview.

Other leading candidates for Pacquiao's comeback were WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas, WBC welterweight champion Danny García and the winner of the then junior-welterweight title unification bout between WBO titlist Terence Crawford and WBC super lightweight champion Viktor Postol.

To cut the long story short, Pacquiao landed fighting reigning WBO champion Jessie Vargas instead as his comeback foe Nov. 5.

In the fight, held November 5, 2016, Pacquiao defeated Vargas in a lopsided unanimous decision to win the WBO welterweight title for the third time.

The eight-division belt-owner’s first fight as a welterweight came on December 6, 2008, moved up as WBC lightweight titleholder to the 147-pound division to face the six-division world champion Oscar De La Hoya at the MGM Grand in a 12-round non-title encounter.

Although Pacquiao went into the fight widely recognized as the leading pound-for-pound boxer in the world, some boxing pundits had speculated that 147 pounds could be too far heavier his natural weight against the larger De La Hoya.

Pacquiao dominated the fight and, after eight rounds, De La Hoya's corner was forced to throw in the towel, awarding Pacquiao the win via technical knockout in the process retiring the Barcelona Olympic Games gold medalist.

The Filipino legend moved down to junior-welterweight to face Ricky Hatton, who he stopped in the second round leading his promoters to bring him back to the welterweight class and fight him against the WBO titlist Miguel Cotto.

On November 14, 2009, Pacquiao TKOed Cotto in the 12th round at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a fight billed as "Firepower." Pacquiao knocked Cotto down in round three and round four, before the referee stopped the fight at 0:55 of round twelve.

Besides winning the WBO Welterweight title, Pacquiao was awarded the WBO Super Championship title and became the first seven-division world champion, the first fighter in boxing history to win world titles in seven different weight divisions.

Pacquiao also won the first and special WBC Diamond Championship belt. This belt was created as an honorary championship exclusively to award the winner of a historic fight between two high-profile boxers. After the fight, promoter Bob Arum stated "Pacquiao is the greatest boxer I've ever seen, and I've seen them all, including Ali, Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard."

That, likewise, paved the way for the negotiations for the Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather, fight that needed nearly five years to materialize. In between that record-breaking fight, Pacquiao defended his title against Joshua Clottey, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley before losing the plum to Bradley via a questionable split decision in 2012.

Before losing the plum, the 2000 fighter of the decade even tried his luck in the heavier super-welterweight, 154-pound category, which he won, too, beating a bigger, heftier Antonio Magarito to pulp becoming the only man in history to be crowned champion in eight weight divisions.

Pacquiao took it back at the expense of Bradley himself in the second of their trilogy, defended once before finally facing the ”Money Man,” to whom he lost the diadem again for the second time.

Pacquiao and Mayweather fought in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 2, 2015. Following long years of tumultuous negotiations. The fight went the distance and to the official judges scorecards which read (118–110, 116–112, 116–112) in favor of Mayweather.

The result was largely criticized by many of the fans and celebrities who witnessed the fight, expressing their disappointment of what had been billed as the "Fight of the Century.” Despite the criticism the Mayweather vs Pacquiao match earned a record 4.4 million pay-per buy.

The father of five with wife Jinkee, a former beauty queen and vice governor of Sarangani Province, lost the title anew to Australian Jeff Horn in another controversial decision in 2017, but, again, Pacquiao bounced back to win he WBA version of the 147-pound division by knocking out Lucas Matthysse in round seven only last July.

So, after two years of waiting, the Pacquiao-Broner showdown will finally be realized in January 19 at the MGM Grand where the Filipino is putting his newly-acquired WBA 147-pound gonfalon on the block plus the potential of second coming of a Pacquiao-Mayweather classic.

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