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article imageOp-Ed: Pacquaio-Cotto fight: About legacy, not just winning

By Antonio Figueroa     Nov 12, 2009 in Sports
Whoever is declared victor after the smoke has cleared in the Pacquaio-Cotto title fight on Nov. 15 in Las Vegas, the true winner is not the one who brings home the WBO welterweight crown and the WBC Diamond Belt but the guy who can leave a legacy.
That guy, my friend, is six-division champion Manny Pacquaio from the Philippines.
Boxing, regardless if it is at times called the ‘red district’ of the sporting world, is not just about winning or losing.
Great boxers, really great ones, fight for recognition in the ring, win or lose, by facing the best. Money may be an indisputable come-on, the icing on the cake, but the boxers that leave a legacy are those who accept challenges and buck the odds.
Leon Spinks, Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde, and Sugar Ray Leonard, to name a few, came out of their comfort zones to invade unfamiliar territories and win. But their fights were more than just about winning or losing; they fought in heavier divisions because they wanted to prove something.
Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Joe Frazier entered the boxing world, like any struggling boxer, as start-ups but ended up as legends simply because they fought the finest.
The undefeated Rocky Marciano, the iconic Henry Armstrong, and the venerable Carlos Ortiz, all fought for recognition in the ring and displayed the best performances of their sporting life, albeit yielding at times to the caprices of incompetent judges.
But for Floyd Mayweather, known as the ‘Moneyman,’ legacy is a misnomer. Primarily, he equates legacy with money, pay-per-view numbers and more. He does not bring ‘dignity’ to the sport, which is about fighting the best, but only shameless monetary excuses. He protects his record, but not the integrity of his profession.
On the other hand, Pacquaio, the former lanky 106-lb struggling boxer who has shaken the world, has followed the same trail of humility great boxers have trekked over the decades. That willingness to fight without being brash has really endeared him beyond borders.
For the record, 2009 is Pacquaio’s most memorable year.
Forbes magazine ranked him 57th in its list of 100 powerful celebrities for 2009, the lone Filipino in the prestigious roster with US$40 million in earnings. He is, in fact, the first billion-pesos Filipino athlete in history.
As a tribute to his success, he was honored by renowned Swiss Army Watches with a special edition timer and endorsed Nike, the first time an international brand lends its name to a Filipino champion.
He was also given the distinction of throwing the first pitch during the Giants-Padres baseball match at the AT&T Park in San Francisco on April 22, 2009. Five months later, on Sept. 13, he returned to the field to duplicate the honor.
In its May 11, 2009 issue, TIME Magazine cited Manny as among the 100 most influential people in the world under the category ‘Heroes and Icons.’
Coincidentally, on the same day he was appointed ‘Ambassador for Peace and Understanding’ by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, hired as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Justice by virtue of Department Order No. 344, and an executive order, in recognition of his win over Ricky Hatton on May 3, 2009, was signed declaring a ‘National Day of Celebration.’
On Oct. 7, 2009, AskMen.com, the world's largest lifestyle portal for men with over 11 million visitors monthly, ranked Pacquaio No. 24 among the year’s Top 49 Most Infuential Men, garnering a score of 82.1 percent from online voting, edging edged out familiar names like Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 28, soccer), Tiger Woods (No. 30, golf), Kobe Bryant (No. 33, basketball), Andy Roddick (No. 35, tennis), and Lance Armstrong (No. 49, cycling).
Manny has so far captured six (6) world crowns: WBC flyweight (112 lbs), IBF super-bantamweight (122 lbs), ‘linear’ featherweight (126 lbs), super-featherweight (130 lbs), lightweight (135 lbs) and light-welterweight (140). He is also one of very few boxers who have held three ‘Ring’ belts in similar number of divisions.
Win or loss, no boxer today comes close to Manny’s roster of achievements, not even Miguel Cotto or Mayweather. His legacy, without doubt, will stay for a long, long time.
Even Mayweather, who brags about his clean slate, is a mile away.
And if Pacquaio wins his seventh crown, that makes him a cut above the Mayweathers.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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