With all the aspects of the build up program believed to have been set in place, WBA regular welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao goes back into a five-year era of his career when his legacy started to grow and completed what turned out an unprecedented eight-division title conquests.
Years 2005 to 2010 was when the now senator Pacquiao crowned himself the only Filipino and Asian to crown lightweight (135-pounds) champion of the world besides winning the junior-welterweight (140), welterweight (147) and super-welterweight (154) crown.
Those were in addition to the flyweight (112), super bantamweight (122), featherweight (126) and super featherweight (130) he had earlier won.
“Those were the years when Manny, we in the training team believe was at his best,” Pacquiao’s boyhood friend and now chief trainer Buboy Fernandez, said.
“And those were the days, too, when he was at his strongest, his quickest, the craftiest na gusto naming ibalik sa kanya sa labang ito,” Fernandez told this writer, in reference to Pacquiao’s coming date with undefeated American Keith Thurman.
The Pacquiao-Thurman showdown to determine who between them will be the rightful owner of the WBA 147-pound belt is set on July 20 at the MGM Grand Arena.
“From the outset when we pitched camp at Elorde’s Gym, nakita na namin nina Nony (Neri) at Haplas (Fernandez) ang ganda ng ikinikilos ni Manny, una pa lang mahawakan niya ng mitts,” Buboy recalled.
“That’s why noon pa lang sinabi ko sa inyo, ibabalik namin si Manny back to that 10, or even a dozen years,” Buboy said. “Kagalingan ni Manny noon. Especially when he lost to Erik (Morales). First time nakita naming nagalit si Manny noon.”
He really prepared hard for the rematch. Kita naman ninyo, tulog dalawang beses si Erik,” he said on Monday’s roadwork at the hilly Griffith Park following a two-day self-imposed reprieve Saturday and Sunday that saw him attend to non-boxing activities like presiding over a bible study at his posh residence on Plymouth St. in Hancock Park.
After stopping Morales twice in the only three rounds in 2008, Pacquiao followed that up with KO wins over David Diaz in the ninth to annex the WBC lightweight crown, Ricky Hatton in second for the junior welterweight diadem and Miguel Cotto one after another in the 12th for the welterweight belt.
That’s besides outpointing Juan Manuel Marquez for the super featherweight gonfalon and Antonio Margarito for the super welterweight title.
Before conquering Diaz, Pacquiao also owned an eighth-round TKO victory over legendary Mexican-American great and Barcelona Olympic Games gold medallist Oscar De La Hoya in his first fight in the 147-pound division on December 6, 2008, or 11 days before his 30th birthday.
Pacman’s sensational 10th-round KO wins over Morales in 2006 earned for the Filipino his first ‘Fighter of the Year’ award from the Boxing Writers Association of America.
His much easier third-round conquest of the same guy and DLH two years later earned him the same recognition in 2008 and his third in 2009 on the strength of his stopping Hatton and Cotton for the junior welterweight and welterweight, respectively.
All those championship conquests, plus that of the super featherweight in 2001, super bantamweight and super feathterweight in 2003 saw him awarded, too, the ‘Fighter of the Decade’ accolade for 2001 to 2010.
“Based on Manny’s performance in sparring and at Griffith, I think he is capable of reliving those memories and when he does, I can assure you, he’ll be the strongest storm Keith will be facing comes July 20 in Las Vegas,” Buboy asserted.
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