It’s been a decade since Manny Pacquiao thrust into the American boxing scene with his flashing fists and aggressive attacking style. In the last 10 years he’s proven to be as captivating as he is good.
Ever since showing up at the now famous Wild Card Boxing gym, the impish Pacquiao with his shock of black hair, bulging calves and coterie of friends has carved his way to greatness with a march that would make General Tecumseh Sherman proud.
“I love the way Manny fights,” said James “Lights Out” Toney who knows a thing or two about boxing. “He comes to fight.”
After winning his second world title against Lehlo Ledwaba under Freddie Roach’s supervision he immediately set upon the warrior grounds of Mexico and challenged each and every Aztec fighter beginning with Marco Antonio Barrera. Many people laughed at the Filipino’s verbal quest to beat all of the good Mexican fighters. I remember thinking it couldn’t be done.
Barrera never knew what hit him but Mexico and its multitude of boxing fans north of the border soon witnessed Pacquiao eventually plunder through Erik “El Terrible” Morales, Hector Velasquez, Juan Manuel Marquez and others. It was amazing.
This year the Pacquiao express continued to blaze with even more astonishment as he frightfully knocked out England’s Ricky Hatton and bludgeoned Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto.
Years from now boxing fans are going to remember this fighter as truly one of a kind. They’ll argue with younger generations how Pacquiao was absolutely one of the most exciting and riveting prizefighters of any generation.
Are there any other fighters to compete for TSS Fighter of the Year?
Well there are the Klitschko brothers Wladimir and Vitali. Palm Springs Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley had an impressive year too as proved with his lopsided win last week over Lamont Peterson. Paul “The Punisher” Williams dominated Winky Wright and beat by a thin margin Sergio Martinez. England’s Carl Froch showed a lot of grit in two big fights. Oakland’s Andre Ward showed he had substance with a big win over Mikkel Kessler. Sugar Shane Mosley shocked the boxing world with his one and only fight against Antonio Margarito. Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero was impressive in his move up to a higher weight division and still winning. Celestino Caballero continues to scare the heck out of other junior featherweights. Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa fleeced the bantamweights of most competition. Nonito Donaire continues to excel with his blend of speed and knockout power. And little Ivan Calderon is still undefeated after all of these years.
Let’s not forget Canada’s Lucian Bute, Colombia’s Yonnhy Perez and Armenia’s Arthur Abraham who all made their mark in 2009.
What about the best fighter of the decade?
Contemplating who made the biggest impact from 2000 to 2009 there is Floyd Mayweather Jr. who participated in the most watched fight ever when he faced Oscar “Golden Boy” De La Hoya in the mega fight of mega fights. He also beat Hatton before retiring. He’s returned to the ring and now will probably face Pacman in a fight that should exceed the De La Hoya blockbuster.
Others having a great decade are Puerto Rico’s Calderon, Pomona’s Mosley, Panama’s Caballero and throw in Williams, the Klitschkos and Bernard Hopkins.
TSS Fighter of the Year definitely goes to Pacquiao and Fighter of the Decade is undoubtedly his too.
Move over Henry Armstrong, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali.
Fight of the Year
Several fights took place this year that riveted boxing fans and continue to be watched.
The first epic clash took place when Juan Manuel Marquez and Juan Diaz traded blows in Houston. It was Diaz’s punch output versus Marquez’s master counter punching. It ended with that picture perfect uppercut by Marquez that sent Diaz reeling and ultimately unconscious.
Next came Juan Manuel Lopez’s back and forth struggle against Rogers Mtagwa that saw the Puerto Rican finally meet someone who could stand and trade. The 12-round struggle left fans at Madison Square Garden and those watching on television breathless.
A little publicized fight between Ghana’s Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko and Colombia’s Yonnhy Perez took place next in a small arena at the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas. Not since Rafael Marquez and Israel Vazquez fought had there been a mixture of boxing science and technical brawling seen on that Halloween night. From round one to round 12 the two used every trick in the book to try and gain an advantage. It was a blur of savagery seen on television but only a few thousand fans witnessed in person.
Last came Paul “The Punisher” Williams and Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez in a fight that matched two of the most avoided fighters in the world. That night both could not avoid each others punches in one of the best middleweight fights in years. It’s a must see again and again type of fight.
This was very difficult to pick. All were pretty equal in my eyes but I think I have to go with the Williams-Martinez blood fest just because it was so darn equal in the end.
Fight of the Decade
Best fight of the decade has to go to the late Diego Corrales against Jose Luis Castillo in May 7, 2005. In their first meeting it was Corrales surviving what looked to be a sure lost after several knockdowns then he came roaring back with that indomitable spirit that he exhibited over and over. The come-from-behind 10th round knockout of Castillo (who would beat him in the rematch) proved to be the absolute best of what prizefighting is all about: never say die until the last blow is thrown. It’s hard to imagine boxing without Chico Corrales who died exactly two years to the day after his greatest triumph on May 7, 2007.
Knockout of the Year
Pacman’s one punch demolition of Hatton in round two that left the rugged Brit unavailable for comment, was both devastating and cathartic. It was the sweet science exemplified in a single blow.
Knockout of the decade
Anyone remember Antonio Tarver’s second round knockout of Roy Jones Jr. back in 2003? That was the punch that shook the boxing world. Jones had just reached the top of the boxing world with a victory over John Ruiz to win the WBA heavyweight title. At the time, some were praising him as the best fighter in the history of boxing until Tarver landed that overhand left to send the RJ world tumbling down. It was an end of the Jones era.