Although the superfight came about five years too late following an extended soap opera, it was still a clash between the two best fighters, pound for pound at the time, on the planet. And given their respective ages – the undefeated Mayweather was 38, Pacquiao was 36 – there was a historical element at play in the fight giving everyone the last chance to definitively define their legacy with a victory.
Pacquiao, who partly blamed an injured shoulder, would lose the fight by convincing decision and Mayweather, as expected, would retire for good four months later from the “traditional” part of his fighting career (despite a trio of better-described returns. like almost or even full exhibitions). Pacquiao, however, never stopped fighting.
The interesting part of Pacquiao’s exceptional legacy is that even though he lost to Mayweather in a fight that for the most part would be the one that would define their careers, the Filipino icon had already cemented his legacy, at least what ‘it seemed, in 2010 when he became the only boxing champion in eight divisions.
Few would have guessed that Pacquiao would continue to fight at an elite level after 2015, given his age and style as a small fighter so reliant on speed and explosiveness against bigger opponents. . Even less could have predicted he would fight again today, headlining what was initially set to be the biggest pay-per-view of the calendar year this weekend in Las Vegas.
Yet here we are, days away from Pacquiao, at 42, entering as the betting favorite after a two-year layoff when he challenges WBA welterweight title holder Yordenis Ugas in the main event of Saturday (PBC sur Fox PPV, 21 h HE), after Ugas belatedly replaced Unified 147-pound champion Errol Spence Jr., who retired with a torn retina at just 11 days old.
Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) was just 16 in 1995 when he made his professional debut at 106 pounds. An astonishing 26 years later, at an age when his contemporaries, if active, typically cash in boxing MMA fighters and YouTube influencers, Pacquiao is clearly not done adding to his legacy.
While his immediate post-Mayweather victories over Timothy Bradley Jr. (in their trilogy) and Jessie Vargas were impressive, they did nothing to suggest what would come next. In a 12-month stretch starting in July 2018, Pacquiao signed a trio of wins over Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner and the then undefeated Keith Thurman. The surprising resurgence nearly earned him Fighter of the Year honors at 40 and re-established him as one of the best P4Ps in the game.
So how did we come to this, with Pacquiao seemingly having found the proverbial fountain of youth? Is it as simple as a living legend, who has always matched himself as hard as he can get in a time when that is not the norm, being the last of his race as a true freak of nature?
“Yeah, a little,” coach Freddie Roach told “Morning Kombat” last month. “His speed, power and work ethic are always great. He trains really hard every day and he has excellent footwork. ”
Roach, the Hall of Fame mentor who has served as Pacquiao’s father figure since the fighter stepped off the streets to his Los Angeles gym a little over 20 years ago, ultimately opted for the PacMan’s passion for sport – which has yet to be extinguished despite its fame and success – as the secret to its longevity.
Pacquiao agreed, telling CBS Sports last week, “My secret is training and, of course, discipline. [But] I’ve been happy to do this for three decades and still enjoy what I’m doing right now. “
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Yet, when it comes to the reputation he has developed as a fighter who constantly seeks to give back to his fans not only by fighting the best, but by seeking out opponents with exciting styles to match his own, Pacquiao referred to to his love of what he does and the opportunity it gives him to inspire others is his main source of motivation. This is why he searched for Spence in the first place and why he was also willing to accept Ugas as a replacement on such a short notice.
“I think it’s proof of being passionate about this sport because it’s my passion,” said Pacquiao. “It’s not only to fight and make money, but also to inspire boxing fans and encourage young fighters to work hard and have the determination of their dreams. ”
Although Pacquiao had long been disciplined and a renowned gym rat, Roach admitted his fighter was awakened by his contested 2017 loss to Jeff Horn when Pacquiao, who seemed to grow old overnight in a damaging fight, arrived in Australia jet lagged and somewhat under-trained while juggling her duties as a senator in her native Philippines throughout a distracted training camp.
Pacquiao has made sure to do a better job balancing his civic duties since then, although it can be argued that his current return to the ring is politically motivated due to how much Pacquiao, whose history as a senator of the human rights has often been criticized, could use the positive press of an outright victory at his age as a national hero to start a rumor of a presidential bid in 2022.
The impact of Pacquiao’s political hopes on his future in combat remains unclear. Roach believes Pacquiao’s last goal in the ring is to win the election and then win another boxing match as the reigning Philippine president. Pacquiao was much more evasive when asked and insisted that he stay fight by fight based on his performance and feelings.
Either way, Pacquiao’s ageless ways and charitable reputation have come full circle in preparation for his boxing comeback as he teamed up with Takeover Industries to be the face of their NXT LVL Hydrogen campaign. Water with the image of Pacquiao currently adorned with collectors’ series boxes. gas-infused spring water used for training and recovery.
Pacquiao was rarely seen on camera in the pre-fight build without the product in his hand or the logo plastered on his team’s gear. And while it’s expected to be a financially rich partnership for both parties – Takeover CEO Toby McBride said the drink made over $ 1 million in the first 120. days online before entering retail – Pacquiao focused a lot more on how he could use it. to give back.
After initially receiving samples of the drink during his training, Pacquiao liked its benefits so much that he approached the company to propose a partnership to launch the product throughout Southeast Asia. This led to a deal in which the fighter’s charity, the Manny Pacquiao Foundation, signed on to receive a percentage of all sales from NXT LVL to help the less fortunate.
“We are helping so many people all over the world by providing shelter and, of course, medical care for so many people,” Pacquiao said. “We built houses in Uganda [for example] and it’s good. It is my heart and my desire from the start that I want to help people, not only for my countrymen, but all over the world. I want to be an inspiration to everyone, as much as possible. ”
McBride, who is used to launching successful beverage brands like SoBe, Arizona Iced Tea and Xyience, said aligning the health and anti-aging benefits of his product with Pacquiao’s reputation for longevity was An evidence.
“I have loved this guy since he started fighting. The fact that we could help his charity kind of sealed it off, ”McBride said. “We can sell as much as we can and it will be great, but if we can save lives and help people, I have done my job. He’s just an amazing man and that’s why I closed the deal. Age is a number now. It’s how you feel and how you manage your days and how you should manage your life. This is what our product is there for. ”
Pacquiao’s story of defying Father Time makes for a great pre-fight tale, but inevitably, rare is the boxer who isn’t the last to know he’s lingering too long. What role will the two-year layoff play in what could happen to Pacquiao against Ugas (26-4), a 35-year-old technician and former decorated Cuban amateur star who is tall and durable for the weight class?
“In my situation, [the layoff] is good for me because I’ve been boxing for almost 30 years, ”Pacquiao said. “It’s non-stop, so it’s best for me to rest for two years. My body didn’t have time to rest [previously]. When I got back to training camp and fight mode, I was so excited and happy. What I’m doing now, I feel like I’m young again. I’m still inspired to work hard like when I was young. “
Asked about the danger his opponent – originally Spence, and now Ugas – represents in the ring against him at this age, Pacquiao was quick to recall that at the elite level, the only danger is isn’t being completely prepared – either spiritually or in the form of physical conditioning – that he promised wouldn’t be a problem.
Pacquiao is at an age where a deep retrospective of where he came from and what he’s accomplished comes naturally. Could he have imagined that as a poor kid who once sold donuts and cigarettes on the streets of Manila to survive, he could one day be a presidential candidate and a die-hard Hall of Fame boxer who still is so strong at an age when most are gone for good?
The answer was simple.
“Where I’m from, I can’t imagine from the start that I would have accomplished all of these things,” Pacquiao said. “I always believed that I was taken from nothing to nothing to help people and be an inspiration to everyone.
“As long as God gives me strength and good health and always protects me, I can still fight. But for now, it’s one at a time. I can’t talk about the sequel until I focus on this one first. After that, discuss and talk about the future. “