In 2010, Manny Pacquiao had only two fights. But it doesn’t take much to prove that the Filipino superstar is the biggest figure in professional boxing, if not the world’s most sought-after athlete: Pacman leads the 2010 Yahoo! list for top athletes.
Pacquiao’s unanimous points decision over Joshua Clottey in a March 13 welterweight title match was far from a classic. Clottey refused to come out of his shell and concentrated solely on defense. But the chance to see the fighter of the decade turned out the most U.S. spectators since 1993 (when Julio Caesar Chavez took on Pernell Whitaker). Eight months later, the bout with Antonio Margarito for the World Boxing Council for super welterweight title carried a smidge more suspense — would Pacquiao, busy with his new day job as a Filipino congressman, stumble? Instead, Pacquiao and his opponent’s own trainer wanted to stop the fight out of mercy. (Margarito persisted, and underwent successful surgery for a broken orbital bone.)
Even so, Pacquiao has rarely been out of the spotlight during the year, with much of the attention focused on whether he would fight five-division world champ Floyd Mayweather. The discussions over the dream bout broke down repeatedly in acrimonious circumstances, with the rival parties disagreeing on the level of drug testing that should be applied. In the meantime, Pacquiao’s next bout, set for May 7, will likely be against Shane “Sugar” Mosley.
Despite his relative lack of action in the ring, the Pacman has kept busy outside it. In May, he was elected to the House of Representatives in the Philippines, representing his wife’s home province of Sarangani. In his spare time he has acted, sung on television (twice on Jimmy Kimmel, including a duet with Will Ferrell), and generally soaked up the adulation he is afforded in his homeland.
No doubt, Pacquiao has established himself as one of the greats, thanks largely to his wins over Oscar De La Hoya in 2008 and Miguel Cotto in 2009, and has earned seven titles in seven weight categories. However, to be truly able to cement a golden legacy, Pacquiao may rely on factors out of his control. His place in history hinges on fighting, and beating, Mayweather. The blockbuster fight is as far away from taking place as ever, with Mayweather facing a January 24 trial on criminal charges brought against him by a former girlfriend.
He may have already moved on. In a “60 Minutes” profile, Pacquiao said, “I already achieved my goals in boxing, my dreams in boxing. What I want to achieve more is in public service. I want to be a champion there.”
Most Searched Athletes on Yahoo! in 2010
—Martin Rogers, with contributions from Vera H-C Chan.
Yahoo! Sports general assignment writer/reporter Martin Rogers spent seven years as a soccer writer for the London Daily Mirror, covering the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, and international soccer. A journalism graduate from Harlow College, he is now based in Los Angeles, covering soccer, boxing, golf, and the Olympics.
Vera H-C Chan is editorial lead for Yahoo! Year in Review. She’s not much of a sports person, but appreciates a good fight.