Manny Pacquiao had a bad year in 2012.
As the first and only boxer to earn a title belt in eight weight class divisions through his career, Pacquiao was once crowned boxing’s pound-for-pound king by Ring Magazine. Over the years, he has defeated many of boxing’s big names, including Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, and Oscar De La Hoya. At the height of his career, fans clamoured for him to take on boxing’s other undisputed champion — Floyd Mayweather. It was a fight that all hoped might actually match (even challenge) Mayweather’s superhuman technical skill, and was anticipated to earn millions for both fighters. Yet, despite intense negotiations between both camps (that devolved into vicious and even racist feuding) this fight has yet to manifest.
In 2012, Pacquiao suffered two consecutive losses that may have put the final nails into the coffin for a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout. For a fighter whose rise in boxing was meteoric, his fall from grace was equally as long a fall. In the 2012 spring season, Pacquiao suffered a controversial scorecard loss to the up-and-coming young fighter Timothy Bradley (a defeat that even I thought was an example of bad judging). Although boxing fans wrote this off as Pacquiao being a victim of the sport’s innate arbitrariness when it comes to scoring, fans were also certain that in the ring he looked more sluggish than we were used to.
Then, in December of 2012, shit hit the fan. Pacquiao suffered a devastating mid-fight knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth match-up. Pacquiao was out-cold for over 30 seconds, and fans were convinced he wouldn’t — or shouldn’t — ever get back in the ring. I was one of those naysayers, arguing that it was time for Pacquiao to pack it up and focus on other matters, like his political career (he is a sitting Congressman in the Philippines) or his family (he is expecting his fifth child with wife, Jinkee).
Well, after an 11 month hiatus, Pacquiao was back in the ring, fighting the young and brash
boxer fighter brawler platypus with boxing gloves Brandon Rios (look for the Storify of my live-tweet coverage of the night at the end of this post, after the jump). To folks like me, it was as if Pacquiao had something to prove — that he wasn’t going to exit boxing with his face in the mat. That, despite his many other accomplishments, he still needed to be a boxing superstar.
And, after 12 rounds of one-sided action, one thing is clear: Manny Pacquiao is back. Sort of.