• ESPN Sports Personality of the Year

Manny Pacquiao - Proof that speed kills

Josh Williams December 10, 2010

At 11 in our list for ESPN Sports Personality of the Year is the man widely regarded as the pound-for-pound king of the ring.

In any other era, there would be no doubt - but, with Floyd Mayweather Jnr on the scene, Manny Pacquiao cannot lay claim to the title of undisputed pound-for-pound king. That said, his achievements in 2010 - when he claimed an eighth world title - have taken him to the verge of becoming the putative world's greatest.

This is a man who is never more dangerous than when spurred on to prove his detractors wrong. The supposition was that his final bout of the year - in November, against Antonio Margarito - was a step too far for the Filipino. Pacquiao, moving up to light-middleweight, was at a significant disadvantage in terms of height and weight, leading many to write off his chances - but he proved, yet again, that speed kills.

Tellingly, much of the post-fight analysis praised Margarito for staying on his feet for 12 rounds despite being incessantly pounded by a flurry of fists that descended into a blur. The Mexican did much to restore his bruised reputation by battling through valiantly, but the judges' scorecards told the story of the massacre - 120-108, 118-110 and 119-109.

It was certainly a much better contest than Pacquiao's other fight of the year, against Joshua Clottey in March. The pre-bout rhetoric from the money men was the same as it always is - Clottey will prove too powerful, Pac-Man is out of his depth - but the Ghanaian was a reluctant, cowed figure in the ring. It was as if he took a look at Pacquiao early in the fight and soon realised that damage limitation was his only viable strategy.

Joshua Clottey was overwhelmed © Getty Images

There were two men standing in a ring, but only one man made it a fight. Pacquiao's speed of hand saw him throw six times as many jabs as his opponent before taking it on a points decision that was completely bereft of any drama.

Two resounding wins, achieved despite concerns that his political ambitions - Pacquiao is a member of the Philippines House of Congress - were hampering his boxing career and disrupting his training camps.

So, is he ever going to fight Mayweather and put the pound-for-pound debate to bed? Well, at the time of writing, here's the latest: "If it happens it happens. If not then I'm okay," he said. "I really don't need him. I'm really satisfied with what I've done in boxing, with my achievements. If it happens it's good for all of us who love boxing." It's hard to see them resolving the blood-testing dispute that put paid to the previous round of negotiations, but then Pacquiao is a man who can rise above difficult situations.

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Josh Williams Close
Josh Williams is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk