Pacquiao no stranger to underdog role
- Updated: April 9, 2015
When the mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao became official, Mayweather opened up as a -275 favorite (2.75 to 1), and although late money for Pacquiao has seen the odds lowered to about 1.8 to 1 in favor of Floyd, there’s no question, that considering where they are in their careers right now, Mayweather will likely be the favorite among public opinion.
For Pacquiao however, the underdog role isn’t exactly new territory and while he’s been seen as a favorite for years now, there are a few fights where Pac-Man came in and was not expected to thrash his opponent.
After picking up a title at junior featherweight in 2001 against Lehlo Ledwaba, Pacquiao followed it up with a string of TKO wins, not counting a technical draw against Agapito Sanchez due to an accidental headbutt. However, when he got his shot against the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003, who himself had just resurrected his career in 2001 with a decision over Naseem Hamed and then a series of big wins including those against Erik Morales, Johnny Tapia and Kevin Kelley, most felt that the impressive but still relatively unproven Pacquiao would fall to the relentless pressure and experience of Barrera. Pacquiao would of course prove his worth by stopping Barrera late in a major upset.
Shortly after dropping a decision to Erik Morales in their first encounter in 2005, Pacquiao seemed to have met his match and when the two met again one year later, and despite Morales’ shocking decision loss to Zaheem Rahim before the rematch, many felt that Morales had Pacquiao’s number stylistically. However, Pacquiao again proved the doubters wrong by stopping him in the 10th round.
Finally, Pacquiao came in as a big underdog against Oscar De La Hoya in 2008. Fight fans will no doubt never forget the sight of Pacquiao destroying De La Hoya round after round, before the Hall of Famer ultimately retired in his corner after the eighth round.
Had Mayweather-Pacquiao taken place in 2009/10 after Pacquiao had dominated Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito, public opinion would probably have been either split on who would win, or Pacquiao may have had the edge. While Mayweather remains unbeaten and doesn’t appear to have lost much of his powers, Pacquiao has been a mixed bag since his KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez. With a few wins now on his ledger since that loss, and with the determination and excitement of finally getting Mayweather in the ring, you can’t count him out. The speed and combination punching remains, but it will be interesting to see if he can bring back the relentless pressure that at one time made him seem unbeatable.
We’ll find out on May 2.