“Boxing is the only sport you can get your brain shook, your money took and your name in the undertaker book.”
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — At 40, Manny Pacquiao is one of the only few world boxing champions in history to fight a younger opponent as a defending champion.
He is about to eclipse the record of Jimmy McLarnin, the Irish-Canadian world welterweight champion who sent the first Filipino world flyweight champion, Pancho Villa, to cemetery when he beat on points the Ilonggo boxer in San Francisco on July 4, 1925.
McLarnin was below 30 when he engaged the talented Barney Ross in an epic three-fight world welterweight series.
Those who fought for world titles in the past who were already considered as “over-the-hill” were mostly the challengers.
And most of these grandfather challengers were sent to retirement after their failure to regain their lost glory or win world crowns.
Sugar Ray Leonard, Hector Camacho, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Duran, to name only a few marquee names.
And, luckily, Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) will defend a legitimate 147-lb belt sanctioned by the World Boxing Association (WBA) against naughty 29-year-old former four-division champion Adrien Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) in Las Vegas on January 19, 2019.
In the age of alphabet world boxing bodies, only the WBA, World Boxing Council (WBC), and International Boxing Federation (IBF) are considered as the legitimate world boxing authorities.
Pacquiao mostly won his previous crowns in the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and one time in the dubious International Boxing Organization (IBO) when he flattened Ricky Hatton in two rounds to snatch the Briton’s super lightweight bauble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on February 5, 2009.
For 10 years since grabbing Miguel Angel Cotto’s WBO welterweight title on November 14, 2009, the Filipino buzzsaw cemented his reputation as a world champion fighting under the WBO, which charged lesser sanction fees.
Team Pacquiao, which was then under the tutelage of astute lawyer Bob Arum and his Top Rank, avoided the “more expensive” WBC like a plague.
Interestingly, it was the WBC which gave the Filipino senator his first legitimate world crown: the WBC flyweight tiara he wrested from Chatchai Sasakul with a brutal knockout in Thailand on December 4, 1998.
Pacquiao earned millions of dollars to become one of the richest prizefighters in the world fighting the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, Shane Mosley, Brandon, Rios, Timothy Bradley Jr., Jessie Vargas, and Chris Algieri under the WBO.
Jeff Horn outpointed Pacquiao in another violent WBO 12-round welterweight title fight in Brisbane on July 2, 2017, his lone fight in that year.
Pacquiao’s last WBC appearance was on May 2, 2015 when he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr on points in the most expensive bout in history.
Mayweather Jr. risked his three titles: WBA super welterweight, WBC welterweight, and WBO welterweight and earned more than $100 million.
But who cares if Pacquiao fights under shady sanctioning boxing bodies?
Fans pay to see him destroy opponents regardless of world boxing authority.
Every time Pacquiao fights, fans don’t question anymore whether it is a legitimate title bout or a duel sanctioned only by a banana peel or a piece of paper.
If he roll past the foul-mouthed black American challenger, Pacquiao will earn another special place in history: a welterweight champion at 40 who successfully keeps his title in the first defense.