Pacquiao fights included in SI's best of decade list


Filipino Manny Pacquiao is not only the best boxer of the decade. He also happened to be involved in two of the 10 best fights of the last 10 years.


Pacquiao’s first meeting with legendary Mexican Eric Morales and his controversial draw with nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez made the top 10 list handpicked by no less than Sports Illustrated.

The first in a remarkable trilogy, the Pacquiao-Marquez I made it at no. 5, while two notches below at 7th was his bloodied match up with Marquez in 2004 best remembered for the Mexican’s remarkable recovery from three knockdowns in the opening round to salvage a draw.

The two were just some of Pacquiao’s great fights from 2000-2009, that also included brawls with the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera, David Diaz, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and the great Oscar De La Hoya, and thus, earned him the right to be named as Boxer of the Decade.

The respectable American sports magazine founded in 1954 noted how the 31-year old Filipino, then a rising boxing star, was moving up in weight to face Morales for the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title belt in March 2005.

In the first of the best fight of their mid-decade trilogy, Morales got the best of the Filipino southpaw in a unanimous decision," SI wrote. “Despite a comfortable lead on the scorecards, Morales went toe-to-toe with Pacquiao in the 12th – cementing his warrior reputation."

They went on to meet two more times, with Pacquaio, now congressman of the lone district of Sarangani, finally getting the better end of it, twice stopping Morales including a third round knockout in the final installment of their rivalry.

His battle with Marquez came a year earlier, but proved to be a classic as well.

Recalling the fight, SI wrote, “Juan Manuel Marquez put his World Boxing Association (WBA) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) featherweight titles on the line against Manny Pacquiao – and barely got out of the first round."

“Marquez tasted the canvas three times in the first three minutes, but showed great heart to battle back and flummox Pacquiao with a shrewd counter-punching. The result? A controversial draw."

Adding fanfare to the result was the admission of judge Burt Clemens that he committed an error in the scorecard, scoring the first round 10-7 in Pacquiao’s favor instead of the standard 10-6 count for three knockdowns in a round.

Clemens saw the fight even at 113-113.

Pacquiao and Marquez would have their rematch four years later in 2008, a hard-fought bout the General Santos City native won via a split decision.

The Marquez camp protested the decision and claimed the Mexican was robbed and denied of his WBC super featherweight crown, but in the end, Pacquiao’s third-round knockdown of Marquez proved to be the big difference in the 12-round championship.

The fight of changing fortune featuring Jose Luis Castillo and the late Diego Corrales in an epic showdown for the World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight championship was SI’s unanimous choice as the best match of the new century’s first decade.

Engaging each other in toe-to-toe exchanges during that memorable 2005 duel at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, Castillo and Corrales produced one of the best – if not the best – ever rounds in boxing history.

With both men taking no chances, the two battered and bloodied each other in the 10th with solid and power punches.

Castillo finally hammered Corrales and knocked him down, but the Mexican-American managed to withstand the assault and got up.

Corrales was down in the canvas again a few seconds later and appeared badly hurt. But quick on his reflexes, the late boxing champion opted to spit out his mouthpiece twice in order to take a breather and beat the 10-count.

Although penalized for a point for excessive spitting of his mouthpiece, the ploy did wonders for Corrales, who caught his second win just in time to launch a powerful right that rocked Castillo. His opponent wobbly, Corrales pinned Castillo on the ropes, peppering him with crushing combinations until referee Tony Weeks decided to step in and stop the fight.

Castillo later referred to Corrales’ smashing blow as `the perfect right hand.’

No. 2 in the list is another trilogy, the first part of the action-packed Arturo Gatti-Mickey Ward slugfest, while at third is the furious Morales-Barrera first encounter in 2000.

Retired Puerto Rican great Felix Trinidad’s 2002 title match with Fernando Vargas made it at fourth, the final installment of the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez contest was ranked sixth, while Part II of the same fight between the two super-bantamweight champions was two notches below at 8th.

Completing the top 10 are Antonio Margarito’s bloody 2008 encounter with Cotto and the YouTube icon Somsak Sithchatchawal versus Mahyar Monshipour bout for the WBA super-bantamweight crown. - RCJ, GMANews.TV


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