As Manny Pacquiao prepares to return to the boxing ring Saturday, the question on everyone’s mind is, does he still have what it takes to compete at boxing’s highest levels? In this infographic, Alex Hillsberg breaks down the Filipino’s life and career.
Manny Pacquiao is scheduled to fight Brandon Rios in a welterweight match at the Grand Venetian in Macau on November 23, and a lot is at stake. The Philippines, battered by Typhoon Haiyan, is desperately in need of heroes. For many years now Manny Pacquiao has 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.
Pacquiao 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 biggest attractions.
Manny’s big break came when he stepped in as a late replacement to defeat Lehlohonolo Ledwaba in 2001 for the IBF Super Bantamweight title. The fight that made the world sit up and take notice, however, was against Antonio Barrera in 2003 when Pacquiao dealt Barrera the only knockout loss of his career and became the first Asian to win world titles in three different weight divisions.
In 2008, Manny 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 three previous fights. It is estimated that he also earned between $17-30 million as his share of pay-per-view buys. Gate receipts for the fight were $17 million, the second biggest in boxing history. His subsequent fights have all had guaranteed purses in excess of $10 million.
The win against de la Hoya paved the 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 of that year, 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 stopped short of overturning the decision. However, in December and in the fourth installment of their longstanding rivalry, Juan Manuel Marquez silenced the crowd with a vicious blow to Pacquiao’s jaw in the last second of the sixth round.
These two losses provide the backdrop for Saturday’s Pacquiao vs. Rios matchup. 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 at Manny? Has the brilliance of Pacquiao’s star dimmed?
The pressure is definitely. Boxing promoter and Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum believes a loss to Brandon Rios will not signal the end of Pacquiao’s boxing career. However, Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, said he will advise Pacquiao to retire if he loses a third consecutive time.
Photo: Eric Jamison/AP
A version of this article and infographic originally appeared at FinancesOnline.com.