The stories of Manny Pacquiao’s biggest victories are well told and part of boxing lore now. But the tales of his biggest losses? Not so much. So, let’s try and do that– because setbacks and humblings are an inseparable part of what creates character in winners– and take a look at the Filipino icon’s career losses. And, while we’re at it, let’s rank them from best to worst, relative to how excusable, explainable, and justifiable they were.
Rustico Torrecampo (KO 3, 2/9/1996)
Arguably, Manny’s most excusable defeat. In his twelfth pro fight, just about two months past his eighteenth birthday and forced to wear heavier gloves due to coming in one pound over the agreed upon 111 lb. limit, the future legend was clipped and dropped by his heavy-handed countryman in the third round after being in firm command throughout the first two rounds.
Boonsai Sangsurat (TKO 3, 9/17/1999)
Manny had already lost his WBC flyweight world title on the scales for failing to make the 112 lb. limit, so it was guaranteed that his first title run would end after just one defense. Looking ill-prepared and surprisingly green, he would be out-boxed by his tough Thai opponent and then stopped with a gut-breaking body shot in the third round.
Jeff Horn (UD 12, 7/2/2017)
This is one of two ventures into the “he really didn’t lose this one” realm. Fighting in Horn’s native Australia, Manny battled through an awkward, clumsy fight against an opponent who was not so much good as he was tough, tenacious, and awkward. Although he had his rough patches and was mauled into long stretches of nothingness, Manny should’ve gotten the points victory. The judges disagreed, though, and ruled in favor of Horn.
Timothy Bradley (SD 12, 6/9/2012)
This is the second of the two “he really didn’t lose this one” defeats in Manny’s career because, well, he DIDN’T lose this one. He shouldn’t have lost, anyway. While he could’ve done more against Bradley, he should’ve done enough to take a fairly decisive decision. Instead, he somehow lost a split decision, which he later avenged twice.
Erik Morales (UD 12, 3/19/2005)
In this absolute classic of a contest, Mexico’s Morales managed to slightly outwork Manny to take the razor-thin unanimous decision. Manny would avenge the loss via tenth round TKO less than one year later and then via three-round blowout ten months after that.
Yordenis Ugas (UD 12, 8/21/2021)
Manny was, indeed, post-prime at 41 years of age coming into this fight and had been inactive for more than two years. But, then again, he was just two years removed from having beaten Keith Thurman, who was regarded by most as a Top 3 welterweight at the time of their meeting. Ugas outworking him was a surprise and the loss was an upset, so much so that it may prove to be the last bout of his storied career.
Floyd Mayweather (UD 12, 5/2/2015)
There’s certainly no shame in losing to a fellow all-time great and a fighter most considered to be the pound-for-pound best in the world at the time. The problem was that Pacquiao had been pursuing this big-money showdown for years and his team had been making such a hellacious scandal over chasing a “scared” Mayweather that, when the fight finally DID happen, it was a major letdown when the Filipino icon simply could not solve the Mayweather riddle.
Juan Manuel Marquez (KO 6, 12/8/2012)
This one was equal parts ugly and impactful. Not only did it come in the very fight after the loss to Bradley, but it also came as Manny was working towards a lucrative Floyd Mayweather blockbuster. At the time, the brutal one-punch KO loss (and his fourth bout with Mexico’s Marquez) was not only thought to have killed all hopes of a Mayweather bout, it was also thought to have ended his career. In most cases, a veteran, seventeen years into his pro career, suffering brutal knockout like this, would’ve had cause to close out a career. Manny would fight on for nearly a decade afterwards, winning three more world titles along the way.