The great Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao has officially retired from professional boxing after 38 years of prizefighting spanning nearly four decades.
He left the fight sport after achieving an unprecedented record of eight world championships in as many weight classes. His nearest competitors, Oscar De La Hoya and Tommy Hearns, with six and five respectively had long retired before him.
Oscar did it from super featherweight or 130 lbs through the middleweight or 160 lbs. in the 90s to the 2000s. Tommy “The Hit Man” Hearns accomplished his from the welterweights or 147 lbs through the light heavyweight or 175 lbs, becoming the first to win five between the 70s and the 90s.
Among the current remaining active top fighters, only Canelo Alvarez and Nonito Donaire have a shot of getting remotely near of his standing record. Of course, the likes of Shakur Stevenson, Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Naoya Inoue, currently with two to three world division championships tucked under their belts, are still young and have yet to hit their best primes. But they would be extremely lucky to get four or five at most in their respective careers.
Experts are unanimous in saying that it would take another unforeseen lifetime and very special fighter to match Pacquiao’s record.
Given that, today’s elite fighters and world champions are exploring other routes to establish greatness or distinguish themselves in the reckoning of history or at least in the record books.
Canelo Alvarez, particularly in his reported bid for a fifth division championship at cruiserweight (200 lbs maximum weight limit) versus defending WBC titlist Ilunga Makabu will also be trying to set a record in the biggest weight jump of 46 pounds starting from his first world title at super welterweight (154 lbs maximum weight limit).
The current official record is 42 lbs. also held by Pacquiao who first won a world boxing championship at flyweight or 112 lbs in 1998 and won his last at super welterweight or 154 lbs in 2010.
Most others, perhaps acknowledging the impossibility or futility of trying to at least match Pacquiao’s record, have been targeting winning all four major belts in their current divisions to become undisputed world champions of their weight class.
Being undisputed world champion is an elite distinction by itself. Since the beginning of the four world belt era in the early 80s with the addition of the IBF and a little later, the WBO, only six fighters have won and reigned as undisputed world champions, namely Oleksander Usyk (cruiserweight), Canelo Alvarez (super middleweight), Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (welterweight), Vasily Lomachenko (lightweight) Terrence Crawford and Josh Taylor. both at super lightweight.
If Oleksandr Usyk, now unified WBA-IBF-WBO heavyweight titlist eventually add the WBC (and the Ring Magazine lineal) belt over Tyson Fury next year, he will become the first fighter to become undisputed world champion in two weight divisions. If Fury wins, he will become the undisputed world champion, only the seventh fighter to accomplish the feat.
The undisputed world championship has been such a big deal that it had even been used to somewhat degrade Pacquiao’s eight world division championships record.
Some are saying Manny never won an undisputed world championship, meaning all the major belts, in any of the eight weight divisions he had fought and won world titles in.
But Manny never had, or needed to.
In at least half of the eight world division boxing titles he won, Manny defeated the recognized lineal world champions, the primes inter pares, the first among equal titlists, namely Chatchai Sasakul who beat the man who beat the man at flyweight, Yuri Arbachakov; Antonio Barrera who beat Erik Morales at featherweight; Juan Manuel Marquez at super featherweight after also beating Morales and Barrera, and Ricky Hatton, conqueror of the great Kostya Tyzsu, at super lightweight or junior welterweight.
It goes without saying that Manny could have beaten the other lesser champions too in those divisions had he opted to unify all the belts there at.
Anyway, at least three Filipino current world champions have the chance to become undisputed world champions in their respective classes: Nonito Donaire and Johnriel Casimero, WBC and WBO bantamweight titlists, respectively, both at 118 lbs and long reigning IBF super flyweight titleholder Jerwin Ancajas at 115 lbs.
But they have to win their fights this December, Donaire and Casimero in title defenses and Ancajas in a still to be finalized world title unification versus WBO titlist Kazuto Ioka in Japan.
Donaire particularly has to win for him not only to continue to vie for the undisputed world championship at bantamweight versus Naoya Inoue and or Casimero depending on circumstances but also to try to win an official fifth world title by going yet another division down to the super flyweights or 115 lbs.
Nonito is now among the very few fighters to have won at least two world championships by going down in weight class. He will be the first to try for another world title by going down in a third lower weight division.
The way things are going, record wise, Manny Pacquiao’s record of greatness will not be the only one in the books, particularly for Filipino fighters.
But that would just be fine, if you asked me.