Five fights that defined Manny Pacquiao

As eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao readies himself for his May 7 contest against former three-division champ, Shane Mosley, here's a look at the five fights that made Manny the star he is today:

Manny Pacquiao RTD 8 Oscar De la Hoya
December 6, 2008 (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV)

Billed as "The Dream Match," the contest between the two stars was widely panned in the media as a mismatch. De la Hoya, although semi-retired and coming down in weight to meet his opponent, was the heavy betting favorite as many experts saw Pacquiao as simply too small. The Filipino star had just won a lightweight title six months earlier and was set to face a fighter who once competed at the middleweight limit.

As soon as the fight began, though, it became clear that the fight was, indeed, a mismatch, but in favor of the southpaw from General Santos City in the Philippines.

Pacquiao would out-work a weight-drained Golden Boy, beating him from pillar to post until De la Hoya, with a badly swollen eye, no longer saw the wisdom of coming out for the ninth round.

Aside from the rush of defying the odds and the experts, this was the bout that turned Manny Pacquiao from Filipino national hero and well-respected smaller-weight fighter to an international phenomenon.

Manny Pacquiao TKO 11 Marco Antonio Barrera
November 15, 2003 (Alamodome, San Antonio, TX)

Unknown by all but the most hardcore of fans, Pacquiao was seen to be little more than a stay-busy opponent for Barrera, who had just been through two brutal wars with Erik Morales as well as battles with Prince Naseem Hamed, Johnny Tapia, and Kevin Kelley.

When Pacquiao hit the canvas in the first round, it looked like yet another overwhelming performance from the "Baby Faced Assasin." However, the underdog would get to his feet and proceed to walk right through Barrera, dropping the lineal featherweight champion twice en route to a shockingly dominant eleventh round stoppage.

Manny Pacquiao TKO 12 Miguel Cotto
November 14, 2009 (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV)

If Manny was introduced to the world against Barrera and made a superstar against De la Hoya, his twelve round demolition of Puerto Rican star, Miguel Cotto, turned the Filipino Buzzsaw into a legend.

The reigning WBO welterweight champ came out strong against his naturally-smaller opponent, but it didn't take long for Pacquiao to establish his dominance with quick, unpredictable movement and accurate shots upstairs.

Early in the fight, Cotto was already becoming discouraged and falling behind a tireless Pacquiao, who dropped the defending champ in the third and fourth rounds.

By the end of the contest, Cotto was merely running to survive while Pacquiao put on the heat to finish this welterweight title bout with a bang. At the 2:05 mark of the twelfth and final round, referee Kenny Bayless had seen enough and waved off the bout.

Manny Pacquiao had captured his seventh title in seven weight classes.

Manny Pacquiao TKO 10 Erik Morales
January 21, 2006 (Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV)

In their first bout, ten months earlier, Morales had out-boxed Pacquiao in a thriller. This time, Pacquiao came out stronger and more determined, shaking Morales early while the Mexican warrior bravely fought back.

As the fight went on, it became clear that Pacquiao's shots were quicker, stronger and were causing much more damage as the Tijuana native began to slow down.

Pacquiao would drop Morales in the tenth round and pounce on him until referee Kenny Bayless called an end to a fast-paced, thrilling Fight of the Year candidate.

Medgoen Singsurat KO 3 Manny Pacquiao
September 17, 1999 (Pakpanag Metropolian Stadium, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand)

Having already lost his WBC flyweight title at the scale the day prior, Pacquiao had been stripped of the belt before even entering the ring.

Obviously drained and sluggish from trying to make weight, Manny would be blown away by Thailand's Singsurat in a shockingly one-sided contest.

After the loss, Pacquiao would move up three full weight classes to compete more comfortably in the jr. featherweight division and his march towards world domination would begin.

Sources:

Boxrec, Boxrec Records and Stats, Boxrec
The Boxing Tribune, The Boxing Tribune Fight Reports, The Boxing Tribune
Boxing Live Staff, Manny Pacquiao Biography, Past Fight Results and Personal Life, Boxing Live

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Updated Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011