Retired former two-time world champion Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi could not believe that after more than twenty five years of fighting, including some career shortening wars Manny Pacquiao is still at top competitive level and a world champion at that.
As he had been in the past, Malignaggi hinted of use of performance enhancing drugs as reason for Pacquiao’s longevity. This despite the fact that Manny has always passed strict drug testing since his rise as the world’s only major eight division champion in pro boxing.
“Yeah, I’ve always asserted that, and I’ll give it to you the best way I can” Malignaggi said on social media when asked if he believed there was foul play going on during the peak of Pacquiao’s career.
“I remember when I first started boxing in 1997, Pacquiao was on the verge of winning his first world title. He was a pro boxer which means he has had his amateur career. By the time I fought my first pro bout one year later, he was already a world champion for the first time.
“I had a 16 year career in the professional ranks and then retired like a normal human being, And I went through the whole process. Manny Pacquiao when I started it, was a world champion. Manny Pacquiao when I ended it, was a world champion.
“Manny Pacquiao today is still a world champion. Are we living in a fairy tale? Does this guy not age? Does this guy not age? I don’t understand. Does he not age?, He has been into twice as many fights, including wars that age you and he was never known as a defense specialist,” Malignaggi said.
Of course, Malignaggi could not support his suspicion as Pacquiao has never tested positive for PEDs.
And for a former boxer now making a name as a fight analyst, it is surprising that Malignaggi seems not aware of fighters as Pacquiao and before him, Bernard Hopkins and Archie Moore who grow old very slowly and who are seemingly years younger than their biological age.
Malignaggi talked about his 16 years pro career from start to prime to end where he said he had gone through the entire process.
But it was only after 16 years and at the already advance age at that time of 32 that Archie Moore got to fight and win the world light heavyweight championship in 1952 by decision over long reigning defending titlist Joey Maxim.
Moore would set the record for the longest reign as light heavyweight champion from 1952 through 1962 and he was never beaten but was only stripped of the world title when he fought on the side as a heavyweight.
Moore was already pushing 40 years old when he challenged almost upset Rocky Marciano for the heavyweight championship in 1955 and 40 when he faced and lost to Floyd Patterson for the same title vacated by the retired Marciano in 1956. He was pushing 48 when he fought his last fight against a young Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay in 1963.
Moore was the only fighter to have fought Marciano, Patterson and Ali in the course of his 38 years career, one of the longest in pro boxing. And those were the only significant losses he suffered late in his career.
George Foreman retired in 1977 after losing to Ali and Jimmy Young but came back ten years later in 1987 at 38 and even regained the world heavyweight championship by knockout over the decidedly younger and prime time Michael Moorer in 1994 at the age of 45.
Bernard Hopkins lengthy reign as undisputed world middleweight champion was ended at age 40 in 2005 when he lost to Jermain Taylor. He later broke the record of Foreman as the oldest to win a world championship by beating Jean Pascal for the WBA light heavyweight championship at the age of 46. He would hold on to the championship until he was nearly 50.
Manny Pacquiao despite just 25 years in pro boxing became the first man to hold a world championship in four decades, the 90s, 2000s, 2010s and the current decade.
These are fighter which to borrow a line from Max Erhmann’s very popular poem, Desidersta, are “as perennial as the grass”.
Malign no more, Mr. Malignaggi.