By: Sean Crose
Muhammad Ali fought professionally for just over 21 years. It was a remarkable career up until the very end, when horrible losses to Trevor Berbick and Larry Holmes showed it was finally time for “The Greatest” to hang up his gloves. Jack Dempsey dominated the sport of boxing in the 1920’s – but his pro career lasted just over thirteen years. Mike Tyson’s career lasted a bit past twenty years…and the final ten years of so of that career saw “Iron Mike” fighting well past his prime. The truth is that boxing is a brutal sport – one that generally doesn’t lead to a lot of longevity for those who aren’t named Bernard Hopkins. That’s why it’s not hyperbole to declare Manny Pacquiao’s now twenty-five year career nothing short of incredible.
The international star started as a pro in the Philippines on January 22nd, 1995. His opponent in the four round contest was the 1-1 Edmund Eting Ignacio. Pacquiao won the bout by unanimous decision, then went on to a stellar career that has not only lasted decades but is remarkably still going strong. Since that first fight all those years ago, Pacquiao has gone from light flyweight all the way to junior middleweight. Along the way, he’s picked up titles in eight weight divisions and battled the biggest names of his generation.
What makes this anniversary for Pacquiao particularly unique is that, at 41 years of age, the man is still a top level boxer. Although this is clearly the later part of the Filipino icon’s career, he’s still a major world titleholder. What’s more, in Pacquiao’s last fight, he defeated one of the best of boxing’s new generation of fighters, Keith “One Time” Thurman. People may argue Pacquiao isn’t the same man who absolutely destroyed Oscar De La Hoya back in 2008, but few are ready to write the future Hall of Famer off entirely – not after his recent performances last year against Thurman and Adrien Broner they’re not.
Even though he now has to share his time between boxing and his work as a Senator for the Filipino government, “PacMan” still manages to step inside the ring when he can…and those fights are always must see events. Pacquiao’s intense, fast paced, aggressive style simply makes for great viewing. A Manny Pacquiao fight may be many things – but aside from a few exceptions (his superfight with Floyd Mayweather, for instance), a Manny Pacquiao fight is never considered boring. Couple this with the fact that Pacquiao comes across as a gentleman, and it’s easy to see why the man’s popularity is enduring, both in and outside the Philippians. Here’s hoping he continues for as long as he safely can.