Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

Manny Pacquiao

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.

— Howard Chua-Eoan