By Michael R. Cumberbatch - Increasingly over the past year in interviews, articles and various references the word ďgreatĒ and the phrase ďall time greatĒ and Manny Pacquiao have become synonymous. Speaking to many avid fight fans there seems to be a debate brewing whether the monikers of great and all- time great belongs alongside the Pac Mans name..
One important factor to discuss is opinion and relativity. One man may find one or two great fighters in a pool of one hundred whereas another another may deem twenty to be worthy of greatness. Some throw around the word ďgreatĒ in every other sentence, while some reserve it for that fighter they get emotional speaking about.
When looking at the Pac manís career, most will agree any fight prior to 2003 is not meaningful in making the determination if he truly is a great fighter. Even the staunchest Pac critics agree he has evolved into a better fighter since those early days but to be fair not all these post 2003 fighters have been in their prime. Letís take it a step further; we can break this debate down to six fights:
Vs. Marco Antonio Barrera (I) a dominant performance culminating with an 11th round TKO. Many say Barrera was not the same fighter at this point having already gone through two brutal fights with Erik Morales.
Vs Juan Manuel Marquez (I) In this controversial draw that featured Marquez down in round one three times, many including this writer had Marquez winning a close decision. A fight that was very close neither side could argue much.
Vs. Erik Morales (I) A close loss for Pacquiao in their 2005 bout. What is important to point out is that Morales at this point is no longer the same fighter. His best days as a fighter are clearly behind him. Following this fight Morales goes on to lose 4 fights in a row including 2 KO losses to Pacquiao.
Vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (II) You would be hard press to find many boxing experts who thought Manny Pacquiao won this fight. Pac was busier, but Marquez was clearly the more accurate fighter.
Vs. Oscar De La Hoya No one should disagree that this was a dehydrated ODH that had not fought at welterweight since 2001 when he defeated the late Arturo Gatti. It was Pacís trainer Freddie Roach who admitted seeing fresh needle marks on ODH, indicating he was hydrated in the dressing room prior to entering the ring. The question to ask is Manny vs. a Prime ODH; the answer is not the same result of this one sided affair.
Vs. Ricky Hatton Give Pac credit. Hatton didnít have a chance no matter what game plan he followed or who his trainer was.
The most probable answer to the great debate is depending on how you use the word he may or may not be a great fighter in your eyes. At this point I certainly donít consider him to be an all-time great. There are still some chapters to be written into Pacís legacy. If we are to believe the recent comments saying he would fight only a couple more times after the Cotto fight , one this is for sure they will be against meaningful top level opponents giving credence to where his place is in boxing history.