Pacquiao: Rising after a fall

The time was January 22, 1995. The place, Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro.

Few people would have thought they were looking at history when a skinny little 16-year-old with a grim left hook that was to become his trademark was debuting as a prizefighter.

He stood barely 4-feet-11 inches, weighed 98 pounds, and had to put coins in his pocket during the weigh-in to make 106 pounds for the junior-flyweight fight.

Had someone told them they were watching the man who would crown himself world champion 11 times in eight divisions and become the mythic figure in the annals of pro-boxing, they would have laughed.

Manny Pacquiao, then answering the nom guerre “Kid Kulafu,” won that four-rounder against Enting Ignacio and would win 58 more in the 23 years that followed, 38 of them via stoppage in the 66 outings atop the ring.

The Kibawe, Bukidnon pride lost seven of those fights, but each time he suffered a setback, the former two-time congressman now senator would bounce back with vengeance on the way to owning the WBC flyweight, IBF super-bantamweight, Ring Magazine featherweight, WBC super-featherweight, WBC lightweight, IBO/RING junior-welterweight, WBO welterweight and WBC super-welterweight belts.

Feats that no one has ever done before in the history of sweet science and nobody is capable of accomplishing in the near future.

It took a year and a month and 11 fights, three of them by knockouts, before somebody by the name of Rustico Torrecampo inflicted Pacquiao his first defeat, a third round KO of a 10-rounder on Feb. 9, 1966, but that only emboldened the then only 17-year-old more to pursue his new-found career.

Fifteen straight victories followed that futile exercise, highlighted by 13 KOs, including an 8th round stoppage of Thai Chatchai Sasakul, from whom the soon-to-be three-time Boxer of the Year honoree wrested the world flyweight crown.

Barely a year after winning the belt, another Thai, Medgoen Lukchaopormasak took it away from him, knocking him out in the third round in a title scrap held in Thammarat, Thailand.

That back-to-back losses by stoppage could have made an ordinary fighter think of hanging up his trunk and look for another job. The father of five with former Sarangani Vice Gov. Jinkee had none of that though.

Six years later, the Pacman scored 14 consecutive abbreviated victories and coupled with a draw moving one weight heavier and adding the WBC International and IBF super-bantamweight titles to his growing collection in the process beating four Mexicans, including future Hall of Famers Marco Antonio Barrera earning the sobriquet “The Mexicutioner.”

Another Mexican Hall of Fame candidate Erik Morales cut that winning run short with a point decision triumph on Mar. 19, 2006, but like his previous setbacks, he, again rose from the dead, beating his former nemesis not only once, but twice and both by knockouts at that.

Tim Bradley, arch-rivals Juan Manuel Marquez and Foyd Mayweather Jr. and Jeff Horn were the latest to inflict the long-time pound-for-pound king of losses.

The Fighter of the Decade more than made up for his loss to Bradley beating him black and blue twice over and to Mayweather by reclaiming the 147-pound diadem against Jesus Vargas only a year ago.

He is set to take revenge for his unsuccessful attempt to defend his welterweight gonfalon to Horn this coming July 14 against Argentine Lucas “La Maquina” Matthysse in a 12-round encounter in Kuala Lumpur. (EDDIE ALINEA,