Manny Pacquiao was considered a savior by two groups of people this year: Filipinos and boxing aficionados. For his countrymen, the diminutive (5 ft. 6 in. and change) pugilist once again proved that their archipelago could produce more than tales of violence, poverty and natural disaster that there was some undefined quality that could produce a fighter of such speed, resiliency and charisma as to be a living legend. For boxing fans, Pacquiao defied physics, rising through six weight classes to win seven world titles and galvanizing the sport like no other boxer in years. His two bouts this year were among the most dramatic in the sport: his second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton and his terrifying demolition of the rock-solid Miguel Cotto over 11 rounds. His visceral charm or his bloody attraction will continue into next year with his expected multimillion-dollar, hugely lucrative matchup against Floyd Mayweather Jr., the only fighter remaining who can claim to be his equal.
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