Manny Pacquiao may not have too many more fights remaining in his career, but there is no question he has already left a huge impression on the sport of boxing.
The 42-year-old returned to the ring on Saturday night to contest the WBA super welterweight title against Cuban Yordenis Ugas but was defeated in a unanimous decision.
Pacquiao fuelled speculation after the fight of a potential rematch with Ugas, which would extend his glittering career well beyond a quarter of a century.
The pint-sized Filipino first took up boxing at the age of 12 and made his professional debut four years later in 1995.
Sasakul The First Major Scalp
In 1998, he won his first big belt, picking up the WBC flyweight title following a defeat of Thai superstar Chatchai Sasakul, a fight which launched him on to the path of greatness.
Pacquiao, throughout his career, has had a habit of changing weight classes and challenging himself at different levels – he is the only fighter to have won titles in eight different weight divisions.
Bantamweight was the focus for the following three years with Pacquiao winning the WBC and IBF belts.
In 2003, he stepped up once more to featherweight and defeated the great Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera in an 11th round TKO, a match-up not many thought would go Pacman’s way.
Morales Inflicts Big Loss
Pacquiao suffered the first big defeat of his career two years later when fighting another feisty Mexican in Erik Morales – but he showed his determination to come back stronger and win two subsequent rematches – the second of which ended after just three rounds.
Another win against Barrera followed in 2007, before Pacquaio decided to step up once more, this time to lightweight level – he defeated David Diaz in his first bout to win the WBC lightweight title.
By now, Pacquiao’s career was on such an upward curve that every fight came loaded with build-up, glitz, and glamour, and a bout against Oscar de la Hoya in December 2008 certainly captured the imagination.
No belts were on the line in what was billed “The Dream Match” between two decorated stars of the sport.
Pacquiao, who had to step up two weight divisions to compete, put on a stunning display against De La Hoya, whose corner threw the towel in before the start of round nine.
Hitman Taken Down
Five months later, Pacquiao fought Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton in Las Vegas, knocking the Manchester fighter out in round two of a blistering display.
Wins against Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito at welterweight and super-welterweight followed with much speculation over a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather.
In the end, it was a shame it took until May 2015 for the “Fight of the Century” to take place as Mayweather defeated Pacquiao in a fight which broke numerous PPV records.
While Pacquiao, due to his advancing years, is not the same fighter he was a decade ago, he still has some magic in the gloves.
In July 2019, aged 40, he defeated Keith Thurman to regain the WBA super welterweight title via a split decision and Pacquiao’s insatiable appetite for the ring means retirement is not quite on the cards yet.
Who knows what else the man from Manila could yet achieve?