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Manny Pacquiao has case for Fighter of the Year, Decade

/ 05:20 AM January 02, 2020
Pacquiao Thurman Fighter of the decade

Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao (R) slams a right to the face of US boxer Keith Thurman during their WBA super world welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on July 20, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. – Pacquiao won a 12 round split decision. (Photo by John Gurzinski / AFP)

If there was ever any doubt about his greatness in 2019, Manny Pacquiao let his accomplishments in the ring put that to rest. Tyson Fury, Gervonta Davis and Canelo Alvarez all had a great year.

But Pacquiao—with all the backdrop that came with his dramatic resurgence—hauled off and smacked the point: He should be the Fighter of the Year, if not Fighter of the Decade.

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The last remaining giant of his generation, Pacquiao is still boxing’s biggest draw in the absence of his on-again and off-again rival Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Despite his busy schedule as a politician in the Philippines, Pacquiao still managed to whip himself into shape and destroy new generation fighters Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman.

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And with the great panache that has become synonymous to Pacquiao.

Against Thurman who is 10 years younger, Pacquiao proved that he’s still got the fire in him and slugged it out to a thrilling split-decision victory.

He floored the talkative, previously undefeated former champ early, making sure he’s got enough points to tide him over in the later rounds.

And when those rounds came, he gallantly held his ground like the grizzled warrior that he is with too much pride to lose. Shaken and in serious trouble most of the way, Pacquiao fought off against Thurman’s second wind and inevitable rally.

“I tried to push him to his limit and came out on top,” was all Thurman could say about Pacquiao that July evening.

His victories over the two Americans consolidated his knockout victory over Argentinian tough guy Lucas Matthysse the previous year in Kuala Lumpur.

Before scoring a knockout over Matthysse, Pacquiao’s last one was over Miguel Cotto 10 years ago—in a decade that defined him as one of the greatest of all time.

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Obviously, the passing decade wasn’t all that rosy for Pacquiao. It was marked by a stunning knockout defeat at the hands of a vengeful Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012.

And losses to Timothy Bradley, Jeff Horn, and of course, to Mayweather where he fought through an injured shoulder just so the most expensive fight in boxing could happen.

But the decade also marked rousing victory over the fearsome Antonio Margarito, double revenge win over Bradley.

And that 2015 megabuck fight that ended all megabuck fights against Mayweather.

Pacquiao wasn’t able to play his attacking game against Mayweather, who insisted on playing his own, running-away style.

Clearly, the outcome didn’t sit well with fans who found the reported $600 million price tag was way too much for the show that they got.

But it has spawned countless rematch talks ever since. Especially when the flamboyant American would teasingly hint that he’s coming out of retirement.

Yet in the meantime, Pacquiao kept moving on.

Pacquiao, now 41, proved it twice, right there in Las Vegas this year, that he is the only remaining standard-bearer of a sport struggling for relevance.“I got two fights this year, I should be [Fighter of the Year] candidate,” Pacquiao said right up his suite that day after beating Thurman.

For everything he has done for the sport, Pacquiao truly deserves to be Fighter of the Year. If not Fighter of the Decade.

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