Manny Pacquiao’s 5 most exciting fights

Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Fast, aggressive and powerful, Manny Pacquiao is arguably boxing’s most exciting fighter. While Floyd Mayweather stands as his main rival, Pretty Boy’s slick, defensive style wins converts mostly because it has resulted in an unbroken succession of victories. By contrast, a Pacquiao fight is short on action only when the opponent refuses to fight back. Win or lose, Pacman always tries to deliver excitement to fight fans, and that is the quality that puts butts in the seats around the world. While his resume is stuffed with barnburners, historic moments and hard-punching spectacles, a handful of Pacquiao’s fights stand out as the most exciting of his career.

Top 5 Most Exciting Fights of Manny Pacquiao

1. Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar de la Hoya: Hindsight is always 20-20, so it is not clear why Pacquiao was able to make the Golden Boy quit on his stool. Oscar’s interest in boxing had been on the wane for years, and beating the smaller Pacquiao was supposed to be his big retirement fight. He was also fighting below the 147-pound limit for the first time in 11 years that night.

Even so, Oscar was the heavy favorite going into the match, and almost no one openly picked Pacman to win (not even the early version of his rabid Filipino fan base, which you can see for yourself on the old forum posts). Pacquiao’s shocking upset rout of de la Hoya left the collective mouth of boxing agape, and turned Pacman from a boxing star into an international sports superstar almost overnight. It was a super-charged fight with super-charged results, and if you were watching it live and weren’t on your feet, it must have been because the shock induced a coronary.

Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

2. Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez I: The first encounter in a rivalry Pacquiao would clearly prefer to do without, this fight stands as a featherweight classic. In the 1st Round, Pacman’s speed and power floored a surprised Marquez three times. It was a start few fighters could have recovered from, but despite bleeding heavily from the nose, Marquez did exactly that. Relying on his Mexican ruggedness and his counter-punching skills, Marquez boxed his way back into the fight.

Yet because of those 1st Round knockdowns, the suspenseful notion that a hard push by Pacquiao might put Marquez back on his ass lurked behind each and every one of the remaining 11 rounds. As is often the case with trilogies, the first installment was the most memorable.

3. Manny Pacquiao vs. Lehlo Ledwaba: In my mind, the 2001 clash with South Africa’s “Hands of Stone” was the first big outing of the Pacman boxing has come to know and love. Taking the fight as a short-notice substitute, Pacquiao had a tentative start, but soon started taking it to and hammering down Lebwaba, the experienced, hard-punching IBF Super Bantamweight champion. Ledwaba went down three times en route to a 6th Round KO defeat. It was a thrilling debut for the Filipino dynamo, and anyone who saw it chalked Pacquiao down as a man to watch closely.

4. Manny Pacquiao vs. Erik Morales II: In 2006, it wasn’t clear than Erik Morales was on the downslide or that Manny Pacquiao was set to become “The Mexi-Slayer.” In their first encounter, Morales had out-boxed Pacman for 11 Rounds, and out-slugged him for the closing stanza. In the intervening fight, El Terible had suffered an upset loss to Zahir Raheem, but wasn’t widely seen as spent yet. For his part, Pacquiao was 1-1-1 with the big Mexican featherweights. No one expected Pacquiao to beat Morales from pillar to post and win a TKO10. The fight was as shocking as it was brutal.

5. Manny Pacquiao vs. Chatchai Sasakul: If you haven’t seen this bout, go back and watch it on YouTube, because you will wonder if you are really watching Manny Pacquiao! This is an example of a fight that is more exciting in replay. Just days from his 20th birthday, Pacquiao was hesitant in the face of the veteran Thai warrior, but you can still see flashes of the attributes that made him. If you can blot out that Pacquiao took Sasakul out in the 8th, it looks like Pacquiao is going to lose on points, making it a real nail-biter.

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  1. Both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr are widely regarded as the best elite fighters of this generation. That is the main reason why people wanted them to fight each other in the ring to determine who will convincingly win and be the best of them all. Unfortunately, this fight is not bound to happen because simply Floyd kept on ducking, avoiding, eluding it. The best measure of a great fighter is not only his/her prowess inside the ring but a big heart. Pacquiao is always willing to fight anybody put in front of him. Floyd selects who he fights that he knows he can win. Floyd knows he cannot beat Pacquiao despite many who thinks he can. Therefore, by a courageous heart alone Pacquiao is the better fighter hands down without even facing each other.

  2. Pacquioa v Sasakul is one of my favorite Pac fight. I’m watching that fight in slighty delayed telecast. I still remember those memory i thought Pac was going to lose. because Sasakul shooled Pac on that fight but after 7 rounds i started to get a hope because Pac hurt Sasakul and in my mind i know Chatsai will gonna roll the canvas and i didn’t wrong after round 8 Pac hit Sasakul jaws and Sasakul couldd’t beat the count he trys all his power to get up but Pac arsenal was too powerful for Chatsai. PAc at the time was still a lil bit unknown to casual Filipino fans.

  3. I agree to this author. And Boxmeister is correct that while Manny came to fight win or lose, Floyd came to select fights.., winnable fights. Sorry to Floyd fans but that’s the truth. I admire Floyd’s defensive expertise and skills. I hope he (being promoter himself) and Arum finally arrange a Pacquiao/Msyeweather or vice versa for the sake of the sport, boxing in particular.

  4. Pacquiao Cotto was one of Pacquiao’s classics and definitely among the most exciting. I cant see why the author left it out.

    • I was asked that question many times, and here’s the answer. I can’t remember what round it was right now, but early on Pacquiao caught Cotto with a monster shot, and it just took everything out of him. For a round or two, one might hope Cotto would bounce back. After that, it was obvious he wasn’t going to recover. Cotto simply wasn’t in 3/4s of that fight, and that isn’t competitive, so it wasn’t exciting.

      Remember that Pacman’s domination of Cotto merely added fuel to the “Cotto is shot” fires. It was that bad.

  5. pacman is old,he should retire,hes no longer the same pacman anymore,dont expect another great fight no more,you will just be disappointed.lets face it,its the end of his career….im exited about donaire,i think his better than pacman.

  6. pacman vs margarito…pacman vs hatton….pacman vs barrera 1…pacman vs cotto…pacman vs morales is my top 5 fight of pacquiao

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