Manny Pacquiao: 21 Decembers Later, Still in the Pinnacle of Boxing Success
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Manny Pacquiao and the late American boxing great Henry Armstrong have been favorably compared to each other.
The reason is they shared so many similarities: Both were born in December (Manny, December 17, 1978 and Henry, December 12, 1912), set unprecedented records (Manny winning eight world championships in as many weight divisions and Henry winning and simultaneously holding world titles in three weight classes, the only fighters in history to have done so) and in their prime, employed unique fighting styles characterized by speed, quickness, power and relentless punching that befuddled and overwhelmed their opponents.
Armstrong is already enshrined in the Boxing Hall of Fame and considered as an all time great pound for pound fighter. There is no doubt that Manny will also be bestowed with such honors after he hangs up his gloves.
But their similarities end when it comes to fighting in their common birth month, December.
Armstrong was reported to be superstitious about his birth date which is also expressed numerically as 12-12-12. This could be the reason he avoided fighting especially crucial bouts in and around his birthday.
In his career total of 181 pro bouts, he just figured in 13 bouts or about seven percent of total held in December, and only two were world title bouts, both in defense of his welterweight title in 1938, his most successful year where he attained his boxing triple bagger.
He fought once on his birthday in 1935 which he won but he was still a rising contender then.
His other December fights, all of which he won came before and after he became a triple world champion. This was unusual as he customarily fought almost monthly, at times more than once.
Manny on the other hand has had no qualms about fighting in major bouts on his birth month as he even seems to relish and welcome such as a birthday and Christmas gifts to himself and the Filipino people.
In 70 completed bouts thus far ( 61 wins, 7 losses and 2 draws), Manny has fought eight times or 11 percent of total in December, including six for world or major international titles. He also fought in December for five consecutive years from 1995 to 1999.
Manny first fought in his birth month on December 9, 1995 beating on points Rolando Toyogon. On December 28, 1996, he fought and stopped South Korean Sung Yul Lee. He also fought on December 6, 1997 knocking out Thai Panomdej Chyhthanakam in defense of his OPBF flyweight title. All these fights were held in the Philippines.
His tirst big December victory came nine days before his 20th birthday on December 8, 1998, when he won his first world title by 8th round knockout over Chatchai Sasakul for the WBC and lineal flyweight championship in Thailand.
On December 18, 1999, Manny fought and kayoed Reynante Jamili in his first bout at junior featherweight, moving two divisions up after losing the WBC flyweight title virtually at yhe weight scales versus Medgoen Singsurat in Thailand.
His next December fight came five years later on December 11, 2004 where he knocked out Thai challenger Fahsang 3k Battery in defense of his IBF junior featherweight title in Taguig.
His biggest December moment came four years later on December 6, 2008 when he fought and stopped and retired for good American superstar Oscar de la Hoya in a passing of the torch fight held in Las Vegas, Nevada. That heralded his coming as the new pound for pound king and boxing premier attraction.
The last time Manny fought in December however ended in a sad note when he fell in an upset knockout defeat to arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez on December 12, 2012.
But that and his succeeding sorry losses to Floyd Mayweather in 2015 and Jeff Horn in 2017 proved to be just bumps on the toad in his inexorable march to greatness. Twenty one Decembers after he won the first of his world record eight weight division world championships.
And today, December 17, 2019 as he celebrates his 41st birthday, he is still in the pinnacle of success as the reigning WBA welterweight super champion and arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world.
Happy Birthday, Champ!