Floyd Mayweather may have got the nod on the scorecards of the officials sat ringside but there are plenty of reasons why Manny Pacquiao is still the real winner in the eyes of the fans. Story after story came out concerning 'Money' Mayweather's lavish spending, whilst the humble Pacquiao was in the news for giving away vast amounts of his substantial earnings.
It became a tale of the personalities. Many were rooting for the underdog, the good guy. Everybody likes the superstar that stays humble and true to his roots. The Mayweather cult of personality revolves around arrogance, bragging about his riches and alienating himself from the everyman. The boos around the MGM Grand told that story.
However, after all of the build-up - the billing as the "Fight of the Century" - what transpired was somewhat of a damp squib. We should have known better. In fact, we did. Everybody wanted Pacman to land that fight-changing shot after chasing Mayweather down but it didn't happen. He did the chasing but Mayweather's movement and defence was just too efficient. The Filipino could only manage a couple of rounds in his favour.
Talk of injury left a sour taste post-fight, almost as sour as the anti-climactic battle itself. We can't forget just what an amazing career he's had, though, and the many times he's delivered for the fans. We're going to wash away the disappointment with a look back at ten of Manny's best moments, both inside and outside the ring.
1. Defying the odds
A young Pacquiao was born into extreme poverty. His family lived in a ramshackle hut and Manny had to drop out of school early in order to go to work to help feed his siblings. It's clear that from an early age he was willing to sacrifice for the wellbeing of others and that's something that has never left him. You hear of rags to riches stories but this really is on the extreme end of that spectrum. He is now one of the highest paid sports stars in the world despite entering it in a house that would blow over in a strong wind. Although it's not exactly a precedent that will work for the masses, it does help to inspire others and rightly so. He brought his own family out of the situation they were in and he's using that to extend his reach, which brings us to...
2. His work for the poor
Not content with earning his own fortune and using it to create comfort for those immediately around him, Pacquiao has made himself a very wealthy man but used those assets and fame to help others. As we mentioned earlier, Pacquiao gave around $40 million to charity from the Mayweather encounter. That's not the first time either. He has given publicly and anonymously on more than one occasion. He has given in money and time. Rather than just share from arm's length, he has been on the ground. For that we commend him as highly as we possibly can. It is an incredible display of generosity from a man who could easily have forgotten his roots. Many others have elevated themselves with no regard for others so it's good to see a star who didn't follow suit.
3. Eight-weight world champion
We have got to include some pugilism in here somewhere, right? There are a huge amount of individual performances we could bring up. There are specific performances which really elevated his stock. However, just looking at an overview of the slugger's C.V. shows what he has achieved. He is the only boxer to have ever won world titles in eight different weight classes, starting as low as 112lbs and achieving his highest weight belt at 154lbs. He has always been willing to give up size and weight to take on the best opponents. His win over Antonio Margarito in 2010 made him unique, adding the super welterweight title to his collection.
Pacman has patriotism in equal measure to his generosity. Heralded 'Ang Pambansang Kamao' or 'The Nation's Fist', he loves the people as much as they love him. Given his prominence and a desire to help he stood for congress in his native land and, unsurprisingly, was successful with a huge margin. There's some talk of him looking for the presidential role when he retires from boxing, and if it came down to a popularity contest there is nobody who could come close in the polls. As far as representing his constituents is concerned, there has been some doubt about his work, but competing at the level he does in boxing obviously means he has to make concessions and it has not stopped him being elected a second time. After his athletic career, who knows? Maybe he could fulfil more of what the people expect of him in politics.
5. Becoming a pro basketball player
The status he holds at home means he can do almost anything he wants. He wants to release music? Of course - an automatic platinum album awaits. Act? Why not, get in some of the biggest films as your own superhero. But to play professional basketball? Surely a step too far at 5'6"? Not for Manny Pacquiao as he made his professional debut for the Philippine team he owns. Such is the regard he is held in, an American professional playing in the league was axed for daring to speak out about Pacquiao's performance, calling the situation a joke. You just do not do that and expect to have a fruitful career in Pacman's own country.
6. Weighting himself down to fight at 105
Whilst other notable champions who we have previously mentioned have done everything in their power to get fights in their favour, taking weight advantages and just about every other conceivable advantage, Manny Pacquiao was putting steel in his pockets to even make the legal limit to fight. Granted this was the early days of his career but it set out his stall for the achievements he made from there on. Instead of bartering about a pound here or there, he has always sought out bigger boxers to take on, and elite level ones, too. He often had his chances derided by boxing insiders, saying he was too small and could not carry the power. Time after time he proved them wrong and built his reputation as a fearless warrior. Most combat sports athletes suggest that they are but when it comes to the crunch do not deliver. Pacquiao always did, and without a second thought.
7. Being pound-for-pound king
For a long time Pacquiao was regarded as the best P4P boxer on the planet. Now, this is not simple mathematics. That is impossible, it has to be subjective to some degree. However, Pacquiao made the decisions easier for the panel when he repeatedly went up in weight to fight the champions, often taking their belts. Instead of hypothetical fights, he was turning the debate into real fights. Around 2012 prior to the losses to Marquez and Bradley, he was at the top of the rankings comfortably with a huge array of belts in different divisions and wins over the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and more. He has spent the longest time in the top ten of the pound-for-pound rankings of any boxer, largely due to epitomising what pound-for-pound means - stepping up and beating first-class opposition at their own weight. Though he has not always been successful, he has always been willing to put himself on the line.
8. Never shirking a challenge
Pacman has faced elite fighter after elite fighter, dangerous punchers in their prime and champions in so many different weight divisions above where he should naturally be fighting. He has made superfights happen because of his willingness to concede size, location, testing and more. He has always seemingly been the party who just wanted to make the bout actually come to fruition. They have not always necessarily been what you would call smart moves. For example, after beating Juan Manuel Marquez twice in excellent but gruelling fights, he did not have to do it for a third time. He had nothing to gain. JMM was dangerous, it was almost no win for the man from the Philippines. In the end, it really was no win as he got knocked out in the sixth round. The only reason he did that fight was because the people wanted it and he was happy to take the test again. A prime Marco Antonio Barerra thought the tiny Filipino would have no power but he was the only man to knock him out in his career. De La Hoya underestimated him and paid the price. Every available top name within touching distance of his weight is on his record. There are not many who can say that they truly never backed down.
9. Knockout after knockout
As boxing fans we can appreciate a technical masterclass but the zenith of prize fighting is the big KO. That's an area Manny Pacquiao has always tried to deliver, despite often taking on much larger opposition. Of his 57 wins, 38 have come by KO which gives a percentage around the 60% mark. That's an astounding ratio given the level he has been operating at. Since his 25th fight he has been competing at world championship level. That's 40 fights against legitimate title holders in the globally recognised organisations. There are too many to list, but notable ones include the face plant KO of Ricky Hatton in Vegas, the breakout finish of Barrera, or the 12th round stoppage of Cotto to win the WBO belt. He will never run and hide, he will chase you down and try to knock your chin into the stands. Ultimately that will always make somebody a fan favourite.
10. Staying humble
After picking up one of the best wins of his career over De La Hoya, in that defining moment Manny Pacquiao said to the man he had just beaten, "You're still my idol. That fight was an honour for me." Not in a condescending way, you know it would have been genuine. A broken fighter forced into retirement by his foe might not want to hear it at the time but De La Hoya could take some pride in the comments, at least after the swelling had gone down. Pacquiao has never been about the outrageous claims or "look at me" attention seeking. He lets the boxing do the talking so the fans can make up their own minds. He was the polar opposite to 'Pretty Boy' Floyd in that respect. There is always room for the showman and the talker - this is an entertainment business - but a large swathe of the viewers will always feel an affinity to the quiet, grateful, humble persona a guy like Pacquiao gives off.
While he might not have done enough on the night to stake his claim as the best boxer in history, Manny Pacquiao will feel he has done more than enough to call his life a success regardless. He has helped and inspired more people than almost any other athlete. That is why we wanted to recollect his highs, to show that life outside the ring can be a much more fulfilling one if you play it right.