Home Columns If Pacquiao Beats Cotto That’s 7 Titles: Is It More Impressive Than...

If Pacquiao Beats Cotto That’s 7 Titles: Is It More Impressive Than The Legends?

Intimidation Clothing - Boxing Shirts & Clothing

Pacquiao vs. Cotto is Days Away: Comparing Pacquiao’s Title Collection to the All-Time Greats

Division-hopping is not new. Some of the best fighters in history specialized in this practice. Pacquiao’s accumulation of titles is jaw-dropping, but how does it compare to the accomplishments of other noted multi-division champions? He will be compared to four other fighters. His competition here is as tough as it gets: Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, and Henry Armstrong.

This is in no way meant to determine who is the better fighter. It is only meant to be a gauge for which fighter’s championship belt accumulation is more impressive, more awe-inspiring. Several different criteria were used, including number of titles, number of real championships, and how much weight was covered.

Their records against Hall of Fame fighters (IBHOF) were included to give some insight into the quality of their championship runs, though it can be misleading at times. Some of those bouts happened after a fighter was at his best. With the active fighters, a bit of speculation was used in determining future Hall of Famers. Only the fairly obvious future inductees were included in the records.

Here are Manny’s Stats:

Manny Pacquiao

  • Titles in Different Divisions: 6
  • “Real” World Championships: 5
  • Title Weight Span: 112-140 (20% growth)
  • Record vs. Hall of Famers: 7-1-1 (5 )- assuming Barrera, Morales, Marquez, De La Hoya and Hatton all get in.


Sugar Ray Leonard

  • Titles in Different Divisions: 5
  • “Real” World Championships: 2 (3 if you consider his belt at 154 to be legitimate)
  • Title Weight Span: 147-175 (16% growth)
  • Record vs. Hall of Famers: 5-2-1 (3)

Comparison: Leonard built most of his reputation with title-winning efforts against Benitez, Duran, Hearns, and Hagler. That’s a quartet of wins that is difficult to equal, but this is the only area where Ray deserves an edge. He has titles at 168 and 175 based on his KO of Donnie LaLonde. In other words, it’s not very credible. He never consolidated his reign at 154. Pacquiao has more real championships, covered a wider range, and is generally more impressive in this area of greatness. The sheer quality of Leonard’s opponents, however, put him in good stead.

Oscar De La Hoya

  • Titles in Different Divisions: 6
  • “Real” World Championships: 3
  • Title Weight Span: 130-160 (19% growth)
  • Record vs. Hall of Famers: 3-6 (2 )– could improve if a few marginal cases get in.

Comparison: Oscar may have fought more legends than Manny, and he sure didn’t get a lot of help from the judges in the Trinidad or second Mosley fight. Oscar is a bizarre case. He began his championship years with an aversion towards fighting the best. But at the end of the day, you will have a difficult time finding a modern fighter with more big names on his resume than the Golden Boy. Working against Oscar, however, are the string of losses and the dubious status of his belts at 130, 135, and 160. It’s not enough to compete with Manny’s title run.

Floyd Mayweather

  • Titles in Different Divisions: 5
  • “Real” World Championships: 3
  • Title Weight Span: 130-154 (16% growth)
  • Record vs. Hall of Famers: 3-0 (1)

Comparison: Perhaps fans became spoiled after his dominance at 130 and 135. Since then, he has simply not fought the best. He didn’t do it at 140, and while he later went on to beat linear Welterweight Champion Carlos Baldomir, his welterweight run (which began in 2005) has been characterized by whom he hasn’t fought. He will soon be in his 5th year at welterweight, and still no fights with the cream of the crop. Compare that to Pacquiao, who is already fighting better competition at welterweight than Mayweather has ever fought.

Mayweather’s three wins over HOF’ers were in his last three fights, Hatton and Marquez above their best weight, and an aging De La Hoya. His best win may have been against Diego Corrales a decade ago. Mayweather seems content picking on smaller, older fighters, while Pacquiao keeps moving up while fighting the best. That’s the difference, and why Floyd cannot touch Manny’s title run in terms of clout and merit.

Henry Armstrong

  • Titles in Different Divisions: 3
  • “Real” World Championships: 3
  • Title Weight Span: 126-147 (14%)
  • Record vs. Hall of Famers: 12-7 (3)

Comparison: This is a difficult comparison based on the different championship structure of the sport 70 years ago when Armstrong was at his best. Armstrong holds claim to perhaps the most mind-boggling achievement in boxing history. At a time when there were only eight divisions with one champion, Armstrong simultaneously held 3 titles at the same time. In other words, Armstrong controlled almost 40% of the championships in the whole sport! This is a big part of why many historians rank Armstrong as the #2 greatest fighter of all time. A few more tidbits: there were more professional boxers when Armstrong fought, and he was unlucky to lose in his bid for the middleweight title.

The question isn’t so much if Manny can compete with that, but can anybody? To equal Armstrong’s dominance in today’s terms, one would have to win 35 titles. Would a fighter even be allowed to simultaneously reign today in three divisions?  But Manny shouldn’t be penalized for the sport having a different framework than it did in the old days. If there were only eight divisions today, Manny could have conceivably won enough championships to compete with, or even surpass Armstrong. Can anyone say with certainty that Manny would not have won undisputed championships at flyweight, maybe bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight, with welterweight in his sights?

The fact that Pacquiao is even being favorably compared to Armstrong speaks volumes of a 30 year old man who appears to still be in his prime with more resume-building wins sure to follow. If Pacquiao beats Cotto and consolidates his standing at welterweight, this comparison should be revisited.

Final Thoughts:

Manny Pacquiao’s rise from flyweight to welterweight is nothing short of legendary. In this sport, it seems that no one wants to give a fighter full credit until after he retires. The legends grow in reputation over time. We require too much time to process information, sometimes neglecting to appreciate what is before our eyes right now. Well, let’s learn from our mistakes, and take value in what we have here: a true boxing anomaly defying all the limitations that we put on fighters, doing it with flair and class.

Manny has already established himself as an all-time great, a fighter in rarified air, and now enjoys the luxury of being able to potentially make a run toward the top guys on the all-time list. His quest continues on Saturday.

As you prepare for the huge Firepower fight card on Saturday night, you can take a look at our Pacquiao vs. Cotto preview and prediction and then on the night of the fight check in for Pacquiao Cotto results. On the night of the fight, we will be featuring  a Pacquiao vs. Cotto round by round, with live updates of the fight as it happens, so check back then!