PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — STILL at his peak, Manny Pacquiao is already a cinch for induction in Canastota, New York a few years from now.
Following his sensational ninth-round demolition of American David Diaz over the weekend to win the World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight title, the 29-year-old Filipino further cemented his status as a boxing Hall of Famer and perhaps, one of the best the sport of prizefighting ever had.
Interviewed over sports network ESPN, resident writer Dan Rafael pointed out that Pacquiao is definitely a complete package, the kind that certainly makes him among the top great boxers of all time.
“He is among the top few boxers who are so accomplished,” said Rafael. “He brings in the crowd and keeps on putting people in the stand. His skills, his fighting styles are all crowd-friendly. We all know that the ability to generate revenue in boxing is very important.
“You put together all these factors, and definitely, he’s everything you want in a fighter.”
By annexing the 135-pound crown, Pacquiao became the first Filipino and Asian to win four titles in different weight classes.
Rafael, the former boxing writer for USA Today, stressed the General Santos City native actually is the owner of five world championships, counting his shocking 11th round stoppage of Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003, at a time when the legendary Mexican was considered as the best featherweight in the world and holder of the Ring ‘People’s Champion’ crown.
“Anybody who doesn’t consider that win as a world title doesn’t know their boxing,” said the veteran boxing man. ”That win against Barrera surely counts for a title as much, or more than his 122-pound title victory against Lehlo Ledwaba.”
Even before taking on Diaz for his first ever venture at 135, Rafael said Pacquiao is already a sure Hall of Fame member ready for induction in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York five years after his retirement.
Pacquiao already won belts at flyweight, junior featherweight and super-featherweight .
“Even before the fight (against Diaz), Pacquiao was a lock first-ballot Hall of Famer. He owns two wins in three fights with (Erik) Morales, has twice manhandled (Marco Antonio) Barrera and is 1-0-1 against Juan Manuel Marquez (no matter how disputed both outcomes are),” Rafael wrote in his Scorecard column at ESPN.com.
“With the win against Diaz, Pacquiao further enhanced his historic résumé by claiming his fifth title in five divisions.”
So far, the late great Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde and diminutive Pancho Villa were the only Filipino fighters inducted into boxing’s Hall of Fame.
Rafael, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, is among those eligible to cast a vote in the Hall of Fame balloting.
In the current online poll being conducted by ESPN, a great majority (92 percent) of the 4,885 who had been asked whether ‘Manny Pacquiao is a Hall of Famer, answered in the affirmative, while only eight percent thought otherwise.
At lightweight, ESPN’s top boxing man sees Pacquiao dominating a weight class the Filipino ring icon is comfortably fighting at.
“He can be a force at 135 and can beat just about everybody in the class. Pacquiao definitely looks good and tough at 135,” he said.
Given that fact, he admitted not being able to wait and see how things will be for the Pacman once he decided to move up again in weight at 140 pounds and book a potential blockbuster showdown with fellow slugger Ricky Hatton.
“It’s interesting to see if he can get another title once he moves up at 140,” Rafael added.