Image Credit: Sean Michael Ham/Mayweather Promotions
Manny Pacquiao doesn’t give a damn about what you’re saying.
His smile is brighter, his press conference suits are pressed, and his swag has turned all the way on since his return to boxing action.
Perhaps its the fact that he imitated his rival, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., by ditching Bob Arum and becoming his own boss? Is he running out of cash after helping a huge swarth of his countrymen mired in poverty? Or is it the fact that at 40 years old he embarrassed a 29 year old Adrien Broner in 12 rounds?
Pac-Man, is basking in the potential to become the best ever, a title commandeered by Floyd Mayweather yet disputed by many boxing die hards.
Of course the protestations for Julio Caesar Chavez as the best will always be loud and deservedly so. JCC fought everybody in an era where a loss was only a loss if you “cherrypicked” your opponents for the easy win. This will forever be the Mayweather stain.
However, for the Filipino Senator, this will never be uttered in relation to his name. Pacquiao has always been a fighter’s fighter and as boxing’s only 8 division world champion, he has a legacy that is untouched despite his 7 losses (3 of which by KO).
Making The Case For Manny
During the build-up to Pacquiao vs. Broner, much was made over Broner’s chance to finally redeem himself. After years of squandering his talent on rap music dalliances and social media shenanigans, he was given a chance to face a legitimate legend.
Per his usual, Broner let down his presumed base of supporters, the H-O-O-D, but his self-lampooning overshadowed the fact that Manny Pacquiao looked awesome.
Boxers have a very short professional lifespan and Manny is definitely on borrowed time. Between his duties as a Senator, he moonlights as a basketball player, recording artist, and much more but his love for pugilism has never waned.
The move to the house that Haymon built, Premier Boxing Champions, was all about independence. Firmly planting his MP Promotions flag in the face of Haymon rival Bob Arum was the cherry on top for all involved and aligning with Mayweather Promotions as co-promoter via the sheparding of its CEO Leonard Ellerbe is too rich to be ignored.
For Pacquiao, ego is tossed aside. What is the most important thing is legacy.
He is smart enough to ignore the challenges made by Errol Spence, Jr., during his demolition of Mikey Garcia in AT&T Stadium. He is adroit enough to know that Terence Crawford is this generation’s Marvin Hagler and to avoid him at all costs.
However, Keith Thurman still lives in the welterweight universe and this is a prize he just couldn’t pass up. This Saturday the two will face off for Thurman’s WBA welterweight strap.
After defeating Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, Thurman has found his huckleberry in Pac-Man and finally will get what he has clamored for years about: a tussle with a legit legend.
As Thurman makes the rounds unleashing his cerebral intensive attacks on Pacquiao’s age, lack of resilience, and the want to retire him, Pacquiao smiles and remains calm.
Because in the midst of the promotional hype, he knows that all the pressure is on Thurman. He has been here before numerous times and come out on top. Also, Thurman’s win over Garcia, which made him a unified champion was inglorious and followed up by a two year layoff from injury.
In the minds of a forgetful boxing public, Thurman is slightly washed unless he does something truly memorable. For Manny, win, lose or draw, he’s an icon across Asia and an indefatigable legend in an unforgiving sport.
Now, if he defeats “One-Time”, also labeled a cherrypicker by many, he will become not only a champion once more but a claimant to the throne that Mayweather’s self-promotion machine has built.
T-B-E. The Best Ever. No gimmicks, no ducking, and no dodging; just straight up old school matchmaking meets the thrill of the challenge.
Manny Pacquiao has done just that his whole career and if he defeats Keith Thurman, you just might stop replaying the face-plant loss to Juan Manuel Marquez in your mental rolodex and start calling Pac-Man, The Illest.