Even if he has only fought under the World Boxing Organization (WBO) four times, the Puerto Rico-based governing body yesterday named the Filipino superstar and ex-welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao as its Fighter of the Decade during the ongoing 25th WBO convention in Florida.
Pacquiao only became a WBO champion in late-2009 after he beat Miguel Cotto for the welterweight title. He defended it successfully twice against Shane Mosley of the US and Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico before losing it to Tim Bradley last June on a controversial split decision.
Pacquiao is due to face Marquez in a fourth fight on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and although there won’t be any title at stake, the winner of this much-awaited battle would become a major player in the big-money bouts in the coming year.
The WBO’s decision to award the 33-year-old Pacquiao the coveted award stems from his winning eight world titles in as many weight classes stretching back to 1998.
Since making his US debut in 2001, Pacquiao has racked up a string of victories over the biggest names from super-bantam (122 lbs) to super-welter (154 lbs). His victims include Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Marquez and Mosley.
The WBO also picked super-bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire as its Fighter of the Year for his exemplary performance against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico, Jeffrey Mathebula of South Africa, and recently, versus Toshiaki Nishioka of Japan.
The Philippines currently has four world champions, three of them—Donaire, flyweight Brian Viloria and light-flyweight Donnie Nietes--carrying WBO titlebelts. The other champion, light-fly Johnreil Casimero reigns in the International Boxing Federation (IBF).
The WBO was created in 1998 when a group of boxing men broke away from the World Boxing Association (WBA).
The WBO, alongside the WBA, IBF and the Mexico-based World Boxing Council, are the four legitimate boxing bodies in the world.
By NICK GIONGCO