Historian: No doubt about Pacquiao’s greatness

Posted at 11/16/10 7:40 PM

Boxing historian Bert Sugar

MANILA, Philippines – Renowned boxing historian Bert Sugar said Manny Pacquiao’s super welterweight clash with Antonio Margarito showed that the Filipino champion is indeed among the greatest in the history of the sport.

“This is one of the great fighters in history,” Sugar told Kieran Mulvaney of ESPN shortly after the fight. “Where he is is a matter of degree but there's no doubt in his specie.”

Sugar, one of the foremost historians of the sport, said Pacquiao displayed a modern-day David versus Goliath match, noting that the Filipino was able to break through Margarito’s defenses despite the Mexican’s advantages.
“What was all this aggravation about his reach advantage? Pacquiao out-jabbed him, outmaneuvered him. There was no question, he (Pacquiao) was dominant, he really imposed his will in almost every second of each round with maybe 2 or 3 exceptions,” said Sugar.

In winning over Margarito, Pacquiao walked away with the World Boxing Council (WBC) super welterweight crown. It was his 8th world title victory in as many weight classes, a record never been achieved before in boxing. (Click here for related story)

Sugar said the Filipino almost snuffed away the excitement of winning because he broke his own record of 7-division wins.

“He added another crown which is a little bit not exciting. How is that? [Because] He broke his won record,” he said.

In 2009, Sugar heaped almost the same praises on Pacquiao when the Filipino scored his 7th world title win by beating Miguel Cotto for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown.

“I've already accorded him the greatest Asian fighter ever, the greatest left-handed fighter ever,” he said. “He's easily in the top 20 (all time list).”

He added that Pacquiao's achievement is comparable to what boxing great Henry Armstrong did in the 1930's, which was a time when there were fewer weight divisions. Armstrong held 3 world titles in 3 weight classes.

"[This is] something only done in respect to the number of divisions by Henry Armstrong... This is equal. I have Armstrong in No. 2 in the all time [list]. So you gotta give Pacquiao a high place on the Pantheon."

'Greatest southpaw of all time'

Boxing analysts of Sports Illustrated (SI.com), meanwhile, is considering Pacquiao's inclusion among the best southpaw (left handed) fighters of all time.

Chris Mannix, Richard O'Brien and Bryan Armen Graham had a round table discussion about the Pacquiao-Margarito fight and weighed the Filipino's place in the all-time greats of left handed boxers.

"There's some elite talent on that list -- Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whitaker, to name a couple -- but Pacquiao's speed and power coupled with his unprecedented rise through the weight classes gives him the edge on my card," said Mannix.
O'Brien said Pacquiao ranks close to the top because of his unusual fighting style that baffled most of his opponents.

"I'd have to say Manny ranks close to the top. Actually, with his mastery of angles, his speed and work rate and his use of power combinations far more than the jab, Pacquiao is kind of Southpaw 2.0, far beyond the more traditional Winky Wright-pesky-jabbing-awkward-opponent model," he said.

He added that Pacquiao has similarities to "Marvelous" Hagler in terms of offensive arsenal and warrior spirit.

"I rank Hagler at the top of the lefties, but Manny's looking pretty marvelous too," said O'Brien.

Graham pointed out that the Filipino icon is more of a switch hitter rather than just a left-handed boxer. And this, he said, puts his opponents to disadvantage because he has heavy-punching power in both hands.

"He fights out of a southpaw stance and relies heavily on a left hook that's become one of the sport's most fearsome weapons, but he performs many day-to-day tasks with his right. Bob Arum rates Pacquiao ahead of Muhammad Ali because, he says, Manny is ambidextrous," he said.

"I don't know if Pacquiao has surpassed Hagler and Whitaker yet -- and let's not omit featherweight legend Freddie Miller from the discussion -- but the Filipino is gaining rapidly. Today, I'd rate him no worse than No. 3," added Graham.

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