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July 4, 2019

Manny Pacquiao - Boxing’s Immortal Legend

An opinion piece by Ivan Spasov
Editor-In-Chief at FITE.TV

The Pacquaio vs Thurman match is an unpredictable one. If Manny gets the win, he'll cement a legacy like no other before him - a continuous career spanning well over two decades at the very top of the game, winning titles and putting opponents down. If Thurman wins, he can honestly say he's defeated one of the greatest boxers of all time.

Whatever the case, this is a win-win fight for all fans of boxing. You'll either see a true fairytale come to life or the crowning of a new future legend. I'm excited to see what happens.

A small preface

This piece is a very personal one for me. My most favorite time in boxing was the era of Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto and the many other greats that made history with their legendary fights.

Looking back at some of these matches, I can't help but feel I've been blessed to be able to see them. I think of all the times I held my breath in excitement as I watched the intense action-packed matches that Pacquiao and Marquez had. I think of the insane match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya - a battle that went shot for shot and had me at the edge of my seat. I think of the all so controversial, bitter, yet very exciting feud that Miguel Cotto had with Antonio Martarito. And there is so much more to remember. For a while, there was a period where every match became an instant classic.

It's very nice to reflect on that time and look into the present.

The fights are still very exciting, the top contenders are still very evenly matched and everyone are as hungry as ever.

Most of the old guard have passed the torch, most of them have hung up the gloves and enjoy helping the sport of boxing evolve in other ways.

Most of them, yes … but one is still out there. A fighter that's still as fast, still as strong, still as good as he needs to be to hang with the young lions. One of the greatest of his era and one of the greatest of all time. He still seeks competition and he still manages to beat all odds, all contenders - young and old ... all who stand in front of him.

The Legend - Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao will certainly go down in boxing history as one of the greatest of all time. Not only is he a showcase of what boxing skill looks like, not only is he the definition of excitement but he's also loved by the fans.

The millions and millions of people watching this sport have come to love and appreciate Pacquiao to a point where he now has an iconic status. But why is that? Why do people feel so much positivity towards Manny? I'll try to break it down as best as I can.

He's very humble - in both winning and losing. Pacquiao has had a truly legendary career and in that career he's had both great wins and rough losses.

Completely dominating most of his contemporaries, Manny never got a big head. He never looked down or past an opponent. He always looks at what's right in front of him. At the same time, a big loss never brought him down and never made Pacquiao doubt himself. After his tough KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez way back in 2012, Manny got up and went right back at it, as if nothing had happened. In a more recent outing Pacquiao lost to a top fighter in Jeff Horn, yet he climbed the ladder again to get a title shot against Keith Thurman on July 20th this year! How can you not love someone who doesn't give up and who's always so hungry?

Another thing that keeps Manny in the hearts of the fans is his work ethic. He's always in shape, always ready to go, always in top condition, never slow, never sluggish, never looks unprepared. In his 70 career fights (most of which at the top level), Pacquiao has always displayed professionalism and has shown that he has the lifestyle of a champion. An outstanding example of that was his fight with the much younger and very dangerous Adrien Broner. Manny put on a display of athleticism that was uncanny, going fast, having an outstanding conditioning, having great snap in his punches.

Let's Talk Speed

When talking about Manny Pacquiao's work ethic and training, one cannot help but talk about his speed.

One of the most intense and memorable things in boxing is Manny's workout sessions on the mitts with Legendary trainer Freddie Roach! It's almost as iconic as George Foreman's hitting the heavy bag and leaving dents in it. However if you've ever seen Pacquiao hit mitts with Freddie, you've seen something truly great. Manny's personality shines through as he goes from smiling and laughing around - enjoying himself ... to pure intensity as he delivers some of the fastest, most powerful combinations that can be seen on camera.

And it has been indeed Pacquiao's speed that has helped him out in so many of his fights. Combine it with the heart of a champion and the willingness to go shot-for-shot … now you have the perfect recipe for a deadly fighter.

It's not been once or twice that the commentators have had to look at a replay in order to see which one of the dozens of landed punches put Manny's opponent on the canvas. Punching in volumes, throwing fast and throwing strong - that's what we've seen from him.

An interesting thing is that Pacquiao has managed to retain a lot of these qualities as his career progresses. However some of his critics tend to say that his fast hands have slowed down and that he's no longer what he used to be. I'd argue that point.

Sure, he may not be as fast as he was when he fought in the 2000s (his overwhelming of Oscar De La Hoya in 2008 comes to mind as well) but he is still faster than most Welterweights. Another thing to notice is that in order to maintain his speed, Manny has started to limit his volume a bit but when he bursts punches, they're still fast and snappy. A good example was his recent fight with Lucas Matthysse where he did just that - pick a spot, throw a lot and throw fast. The problem here is that a lot of people expect a 40 year old Manny, with 70 pro fights on his record, to be as fast and as agile as the young rising superstar that faced Juan Manuel Marquez way back in 2004 in their first match. Pacquiao has adapted his style and managed to remain both fast and sharp in all of his outings to date.

With all that being said, I want to circle around a bit to where I began this opinion piece. I really cannot overstate how much I appreciate the fact that …

Manny Pacquiao is fighting for a title in 2019!

It's as real as it gets. The true legend that is Manny Pacquiao is still on the hunt and very close to the WBA Super Welterweight Title. His strings of successful wins against Matthysse and Broner have led him straight to Keith Thurman's doorstep and now Manny is face to face with the possibility of another title run. Just stop and think about that for a second.

The man who has been fighting professionally since early 1995; the man who's faced the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Tim Bradley, Floyd Mayweather and so many more; the man who's won Boxer of the Decade more times than people can count; the man who's won more titles than people could count … That same man is still going at it and still going strong. All of the accolades, all of the accomplishments, yet still Manny has the hunger and drive to chase more and more.

Pacquiao has nothing left to prove - when it comes to boxing, he's in the same sentence as people like Muhammad Ali. Yet as long as he draws breath, Manny will seek a challenge. And what's most important - not just any challenge. No … simply any won't do. He seeks the biggest one possible. He wants to fight in championship fights, not in exhibitions. He wants to fight for titles, not just a paycheck.

That's what makes Manny Pacquaio so special.

However we do need to look at the picture he's currently in. He has to deal with a very interesting opponent in order to further his legacy.

Keith Thurman - A True Champion

What really defines the calibre of champion is the kind of opposition they've faced and the kind of adversity they've had to endure. Keith Thurman is no stranger to tough opponents and being in positions of adversity. The WBA Super Welterweight Title he puts on the line against Pacquiao, Thurman won in a very contested and rough bout against boxing great Danny Garcia. It was a match that pushed Thurman and put his skills on display for the entire world to see. Keith put all his effort in capturing the belt in what is now considered a signature performance. In his career, Thurman has faced some very strong competition in fighters like Shawn Porter, Josesito Lopez and Luis Collazo. He remains undefeated in 29 career wind with 22 of them coming by way of knockout.

Keith Thurman is on his way to becoming a huge champion and a legend in the sport if he keeps going the way he has. He has the drive, he has the skills and he certainly has the physical gifts to make this happen.

And that's exactly why Thurman is a very tough opponent for Pacquiao.

Keith wants to solidify his status and yet has everything to lose while Manny has his legacy in place and there is no shame in going down to a strong and young champion. However I'm sure that if you look at things from Pacquiao's point of view, you'd see everything in a different light.

Manny has only one thing in front of him - his current opponent. He has only one title in mind - the title he's currently fighting for. His legacy is the one he builds each and every moment. It's being built here and now - not left in the past. That's why Pacquiao has to win. That's what drives him.

Where do we go from here?

The Pacquaio vs Thurman match is an unpredictable one. If Manny gets the win, he'll cement a legacy like no other before him - a continuous career spanning well over two decades at the very top of the game, winning titles and putting opponents down. If Thurman wins, he can honestly say he's defeated one of the greatest boxers of all time.

Whatever the case, this is a win-win fight for all fans of boxing. You'll either see a true fairytale come to life or the crowning of a new future legend. I'm excited to see what happens.

Tune in here on FITE.TV on June 20th at 10:00PM Eastern and get to see this awesome fight. Join me and many other fans in celebrating the fact that we can enjoy events like this one. Let's appreciate these two great competitors and support boxing and all it has to offer.