No fighter in history has won world titles in more weight classes than Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino legend has done it in eight divisions, a remarkable feat for a fighter who turned pro at 106 pounds in 1995, won his first title at 112 pounds in 1998 and eventually won a 154-pound belt (even though he weighed only 144.6 for the fight) in 2010.
Pacquiao could have won titles in 10 of boxing's 17 weight classes but he never campaigned at junior bantamweight or bantamweight. Instead he skipped over them and won his second title at junior featherweight.
So as Pacquiao heads into his third fight against Timothy Bradley Jr., a nontitle welterweight bout on Saturday (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas -- in what Pacquiao says could be his final fight -- how do Pacquiao's title victories stack up? I ranked the eight title wins and got Pacquiao's take on each historic victory.
1. Welterweight: TKO12 Miguel Cotto
When: Nov. 14, 2009
Where: Las Vegas
Rafael's take: In his first welterweight fight, Pacquiao shredded the faded Oscar De La Hoya and sent him into retirement in a big upset. Cotto was his second welterweight opponent and still a superb fighter, far fresher than De Hoya. This might be the most impressive performance of Pacquiao's entire career. He dropped Cotto in the third and fourth rounds, busted him up, walked him down and stopped him in a tremendous fight that I view as the apex of Pacquiao's career.
Pacquiao's take: "Miguel Cotto was the ultimate test for me. It was a very physical battle. No question Cotto was one of the best I ever fought and he made me dig down deeper than I ever had to pull it out. Cotto is fierce."
2. Featherweight: TKO11 Marco Antonio Barrera
When: Nov. 15, 2003
Where: San Antonio
Rafael's take: Pacquiao moved into a new weight class to take on Barrera, the lineal champion and an elite pound-for-pound fighter in the midst of a great run after beating Naseem Hamed to claim the lineage. Pacquiao, the underdog, went after Barrera like a storm, dropping him in the third and 11th rounds before Barrera's corner threw in the towel, leaving him and most everyone else stunned by Pacquiao's extreme domination. This is the fight in which the Pacquiao legend was born.
Pacquiao's take: "I was never more prepared or in better condition for a fight than I was for my fight against Marco Antonio Barrera. It was the biggest fight of my career to that point. Barrera was considered one of the top or perhaps the top pound-for-pound fighter and destroyed Naseem Hamed. I remember walking to the ring in San Antonio and getting booed by everyone. I think I had one fan -- [trainer] Freddie [Roach]. I had no idea what I had done to these people. After all, I was new in town. As for the fight, I was in total control. Every round felt like the first round because my conditioning was so good. I never got tired. When I was in the ring, instead of hearing boos, I heard nothing. The Barrera fans were so surprised that I won and by the way I won."
3. Junior welterweight: KO2 Ricky Hatton
When: May 2, 2009
Where: Las Vegas
Rafael's take: Following his demolition of Oscar De La Hoya in a nontitle welterweight fight, Pacquiao dropped down to challenge lineal junior welterweight champion Hatton, who had won two fights in a row since being stopped in a welterweight title fight by Floyd Mayweather. Pacquiao was at his devastating best, scoring the most awesome knock out of his career, a one-shot blow that left Hatton out cold in the center of the ring. It was unforgettable and for big stakes.
Pacquiao's take: "I was once asked at what point did I know I would beat Hatton? My response was, when I signed the contract. Ricky Hatton had the perfect style for me. He came straight at me, which allowed me to throw the perfect punch. I don't know if I ever threw a better punch. It was right on the sweet spot. Incredible night."
4. Junior middleweight: W12 Antonio Margarito
When: Nov. 13, 2010
Where: Arlington, Texas
Rafael's take: In the history-making eighth title win, Pacquiao was outweighed by 17 pounds on fight night but still laid a savage beating on Margarito in a dominant performance that should have been stopped in the later rounds. Even though Pacquiao steamrolled Margarito, including inflicting a career-altering eye injury and breaking his orbit, he did take some heavy shots from him. I view this fight as the one marked the end of Pacquiao's prime and put his best days behind him.
Pacquiao's take: "This was my most physical and punishing fight. Antonio Margarito had such a reach and weight advantage over me. My ribs ached for a long time after that fight. Once was enough for me at that weight. When I was asked if I wanted to defend [the title] I said, 'No thanks!' That was the fight where I had reached my limit in terms of weight class. I fought a very good fight and the atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium was so memorable. I do think the fight should have been stopped. Margarito took a lot of punishment."
5. Junior featherweight: TKO6 Lehlo Ledwaba
When: June 23, 2001
Where: Las Vegas
Rafael's take: Pacquiao was basically unknown when he took the fight with Ledwaba (on the De La Hoya-Javier Castillejo HBO PPV undercard) on about three weeks' notice in place of injured Enrique Sanchez. Pacquiao was a revelation as he swarmed Ledwaba, considered the No. 1 junior featherweight at the time and a guy I was very high on. But Pacquiao just destroyed him, breaking his nose in the first round and dropping him in the second and sixth. Pacquiao stole the show. Leaving ringside that night I remember thinking that this guy could be special.
Pacquiao's take: "What a fun time that was! Freddie Roach and I had only been together a short time when the IBF told us that, as the next highest available contender, we were getting a title shot at world champion Lehlo Ledwaba. It was my first fight in America and no one had ever heard of me. Even the commentators didn't know how to pronounce my name. But we were so young and confident. Poor Freddie, he wanted to place a bet on me and I was such an underdog the fight wasn't even listed in the sports books. I remember just going after Ledwaba. It was my introduction to American boxing fans. I jumped up three weight classes. Wow!"
6. Lightweight: TKO9 David Diaz
When: June 28, 2008
Where: Las Vegas
Rafael's take: Pacquiao made the move up to lightweight to claim a title in weight class No. 5 and, with Floyd Mayweather in his first retirement, established himself as the pound-for-pound king. It was a bloody, one-sided demolition of Diaz, a guy with a big heart but nowhere near the skills, speed or power of Pacquiao. This was the win in which many began to believe that Pacquiao could continue moving up in weight and still be effective.
Pacquiao's take: "I remember thinking I was fighting for a world title in a new division without a tune-up fight. But I felt great at the heavier weight. It was the first time I could eat a meal on weigh-in day. David Diaz fought a courageous fight. I was in total control of my fight. This was the fight where people began talking about the number of different weight divisions I won world titles in."
7. Flyweight: KO8 Chatchai Sasakul
When: Dec. 4, 1998
Where: Phuttamonthon, Thailand
Rafael's take: The title run began against Sasakul, who had beaten the well-respected Yuri Arbachakov for the belt (and lineal title) 13 months earlier and was making his third defense against Pacquiao, 23-1 at the time but not that even famous yet in the Philippines. This was a young, wild Pacquiao whose power was too much for Sasakul. Pacquiao, down on all three scorecards (70-64, 69-64, 68-65), laid Sasakul out for several minutes with a cracking left hand that remains his calling card.
Pacquiao's take: "Chatchai Sasakul was a very good fighter. I was very excited for the fight but not nervous. I was impressed with Sasakul's speed. He was so fast. What I really remember was how special everyone made me feel when I brought the world title belt back to the Philippines. It was also the first time I was given special recognition by the government. It was a very special time for me."
8. Junior lightweight: W12 Juan Manuel Marquez
When: March 15, 2008
Where: Las Vegas
Rafael's take: Meeting for the second time, Pacquiao barely edged Marquez by split decision in perhaps the most controversial result of their four-fight series. Like all of their fights it was a tremendous battle but Pacquiao was lucky to escape with the victory in what was his poorest performance in a title-winning bout. He did drop Marquez with a left hand in the third round, which ultimately cost Marquez a draw. My score at ringside was 114-113 for Marquez.
Pacquiao's take: "It was a good fight. I always believed I would beat Juan Manuel Marquez. There were no surprises in that fight. He fought the same way he always fought."