Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Manny Pacquiao: Will 2020 be his final hurrah?
Last Updated: 17/01/20 4:56pm
The evergreen Manny Pacquiao is into a fourth decade as a world champion – there are many statistics that point to his greatness but this feels particularly poignant as 2020 begins.
He ended 1999 as a former WBC flyweight champion with two knockout losses to his name and today stands as an all-time legend with the WBA welterweight belt.
This is the 25th year of a remarkable boxing career in which Pacquiao has won world titles in eight divisions, more than any other boxer in history. It was a decade ago that he set that milestone but he remains a formidable champion.
Aged 41, he has won 62 of his 71 fights, battling fellow legends and engaging in gruelling trilogies before losing The Fight of The Century yet winning five world title fights since.
The boy born into poverty in the Philippines tasted defeats but the victories kept racking up - he conquered flyweight, super-bantamweight, featherweight, super-featherweight, lightweight, super-lightweight, welterweight, super-welterweight. That's a total difference of 42lbs (three stone). He is now a senator in his homeland where he once struggled to eat.
It was far from guaranteed that Pacquiao would reach a fourth decade as a world champion. There were four defeats in the last decade and three felt conclusive - the violent knockout by Juan Manuel Marquez, his helplessness against Floyd Mayweather and the shock upset to Jeff Horn two-and-a-half years ago.
Deep into his 30s with his legacy secured he rebuilt.
2019 was, somewhat inexplicably, a stunning period for Pacquiao and not many boxers could claim to have had a better calendar year. He dominated Adrien Broner then knocked down and outpointed the previously-unbeaten Keith Thurman. They were 11 years and 10 years younger than Pacquiao respectively.
Became flyweight champion on away turf by beating Thailand’s Chatchai Sasakul as a 19-year-old in 1998. Pacquiao suffered two stoppage defeats in this decade before his 21st birthday.
Won super-bantamweight gold on his US debut. Twice beat Marco Antonio Barrera but lost to Erik Morales before winning their second and third meetings. Stopped Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in a stunning 12-month period.
Lost his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez via a brutal KO. Also lost to Mayweather and Horn. But he beat Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Timothy Bradley twice and Lucas Matthysse before a brilliant 2019 saw Pacquiao topple Broner and Thurman.
Enters as the reigning WBA welterweight champion, aged 41, with a 62-7-2 record.
Who could Pacquiao fight this year?
This week UFC star Conor McGregor has claimed: "The Manny Pacquiao talks have been ongoing."
And only a fool would categorically rule out a rematch to his 2015 defeat to Mayweather, which was the richest fight ever at the time.
Pacquiao, now aligned to Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions, has fellow world welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr (IBF and WBC) under the same promotional banner.
Terence Crawford holds the WBO title and is promoted by Top Rank.
Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Amir Khan (all former world champions) remain big-name contenders at welterweight.
A world champion in four decades but Pacquiao has also lost fights in the previous three decades. The sharks are circling in 2020 so can he fend them off?