As in the last 15 years, Manny Pacquiao was the face of Philippine boxing in 2016 as he continued to turn back the hands of time by crowning himself as the welterweight king.
Pacquiao fought twice this year, both in Las Vegas, the first against old rival Tim Bradley in April that propelled him to a November clash with a young lion in Jessie Vargas.
Against Bradley at the MGM Grand, Pacquiao came up with a convincing win over a foe he had difficulty dealing with on two occasions. During the bout, Pacquiao scored not one, but two knockdowns.
But a knockdown scored by Pacquiao in the ninth round was the focal point of the third fight as the crowd of over 14,500 roared in delight as Bradley was forced to do a reverse somersault before getting up and eventually regaining his wits.
Bradley was actually handed a disputable decision the first time they met in 2012 but Pacquiao exacted payback in the rematch in 2014 although this wasn’t as dominant as the third match that produced identical scores of 116-110 from the three judges.
Versus Vargas, who at 27 was ten years younger than the Filipino eight-division titleholder, Pacquiao was still fast and furious as he capped his lopsided win with a second-round knockdown that was made possible by his trademark left straight.
Save for the ludicrous score handed by one of the three judges, the numbers were telling as two submitted 118-109 apiece while the third saw it 114-113.
But the story of the night at the Thomas and Mack Center was the presence at ringside of Floyd Mayweather Jr. who was joined by his daughter.
Mayweather, who beat Pacquiao in 2015, denied that his attendance was a prelude to a second meeting in 2017.
But fight fans believe Mayweather’s decision to see Pacquiao live was a sign that they are testing the waters for a possible rematch that is expected to do record numbers although not as massive as the one registered almost two years ago.
Courtesy of Nick Giongco of the Manila Bulletin. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickSpeaks