Pacquiao’s Success Offers Hope For Philippines


Boxing fans are eager to see what’s next on the cards for Manny Pacquiao after he defeated  Brandon Rios in Macau on November 23. For Manny and many Filipinos, more than Pacquiao’s pride was at stake in this match. The Philippines, battered by natural disasters and corruption controversies, is desperately in need of heroes. For many years now Manny Pacquiao played that role perfectly. Born in the humblest of circumstances, his rags-to-riches story is a constant source of pride and inspiration to Filipinos. And what a story it has been.

He moved to Manila at a very young age and worked at odd jobs to survive. He was too scrawny to fight professionally and it took many months of painstaking training using makeshift equipment before he was finally noticed by the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines and included in the national boxing team pool.

The death of close friend Eugene Barutag from injuries sustained in a boxing match inspired Manny to turn professional. From his first professional win versus Enting Ignacio he was undefeated until Rustico Torrecampo gave him a wakeup call with a stunning knockout in his 12th professional fight. Since then, Pacquiao has racked up an enviable record of 54 wins against 5 losses and 2 draws and has become one the boxing’s greatest stars.

His big break came when he stepped in as a late replacement to win against Lehlohonolo Ledwaba in 2001 for the IBF Super Bantamweight title. The fight that made the world sit up and take notice, however, was his defining moment against Antonio Barrera in 2003 where he dealt Barrera the only knockout loss of his career and became the first Asian to win world titles in three different weight divisions.

His entry into the big time came in 2008 when he stepped into the ring to fight the legendary Oscar de la Hoya for a guaranteed purse of $15 million, a big jump from his previous high of $3 million in his last three fights. It is estimated that he also earned between $17-30 million as his share of pay-per-view buys while gate receipts topped $17 million, the second biggest in boxing history. His subsequent fights all had guaranteed purses in excess of $10 million, the highest being his fourth match with Marquez for $23 million.

That win against de la Hoya cemented his road to boxing superstardom and the singular distinction of being the only boxer in history to win world titles in eight different weight divisions. Sadly, this road hit major bumps when he lost his last two matches, both in 2012.

In June, he lost a controversial split decision to Timothy Bradley. The World Boxing Organization (WBO) reviewed tapes of that fight and the panel declared that Pacquiao should have won, but refused to overturn the result. However, in December and in the fourth installment of their longstanding rivalry, Juan Manuel Marquez silenced the crowd with deadly blow to Pacquiao’s jaw in the last second of the sixth round.

These two losses coloured the backdrop painted by pundits and experts as the Pacquiao vs. Rios matchup approached. Both Marquez and Bradley turned down offers of a rematch with Pacquiao for different reasons, despite being offered record purses. They chose to fight each other, instead. Were they turning up their noses on Manny? Had the brilliance of Pacquiao’s star dimmed?

The pressure was definitely on Manny heading into his bout with Rios and Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, even went as far as to say he would have advised Pacquiao to retire should he have lost a third consecutive bout.

However Pacquiao prevailed amidst the backdrop of Typhoon Haiyan and provided much needed hope to his people following one of their darkest hours. He hopes they can follow his lead and rise above adversity.

Check out more on the life and times of Manny Pacquiao in our infographic, kindly provided by

    • Raven Ang
    • December 3rd, 2013

    The guy surely packs the punch! So glad that he is back! Expecting more exciting matches, Manny!

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