When Manny Pacquiao steps into the ring against Miguel Cotto in what could be the biggest fight of the year on November 14, few may recall that his rise to stardom started eight years ago against a South African fighter.
Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, who grew up in Johannesburg’s famous sprawling township of Soweto, was the IBF junior-featherweight champion who, according to promoter Rodney Berman, was on the verge of securing an HBO fight contract.
All he had to do was win the sixth defence of a belt that had seemingly become the property of South Africa. It was first owned by East London-based Welcome Ncita (1990-1992), who lost it to American Kennedy McKinney (1992-1994) before being reclaimed by Ncita’s stablemate, Vuyani Bungu (1994-1999), who defended it a record 13 times before vacating it to step up a division to take on Naseem Hamed.
Ledwaba – one of the finest South African fighters of that era (the other stand-outs included Mzukisi Sikali and Corrie Sanders) – won the vacant IBF junior-featherweight crown.
His sixth defence, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on June 6 2001, appeared to be mere routine – he faced a late replacement, an unknown who once held the WBC flyweight title before losing that belt on a third-round KO. Ledwaba was heavy handed and it seemed unthinkable that a boxer who had stepped up from flyweight would give him a problem.
But that’s exactly what happened. Pacquiao dropped Ledwaba in the opening round and eventually stopped the champion in the sixth. Ledwaba’s performance seemed so ineffectual that Berman effectively dumped him!
It turns out that his loss to Pacquiao was no disgrace. Two years later the Filipino entered superstardom after stepping up to featherweight to score a sensational stoppage victory over the legendary Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera. Wars against Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales followed before moving up to lightweight (David Diaz – wTKO9), welterweight (Oscar De La Hoya – wTKO8) and junior-welterweight (Ricky Hatton – wKO2).
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that more than 80% of people who have voted on this blog’s poll are tipping Pacman to beat welterweight champion Cotto inside the distance. To vote, click here.
1. cotto-> strong and power
2. MP-> strong , power, speed, wise, dugong texas.
the good thing with MP. he doesn’t under estimate his opponent. he always work, train hard, and harder. the big plus is he always talk to Bro.
NICE PACMAN YOUR GREAT…FROM CHINA PEOPLE..YOU LIKE BRUCE LEE HERE IN OUR PLACE….
is it pacman’s first fight in the u.s. of A ? (answer: Yes, it was Pacman’s first fight in the USA)
Thanks for you comment. Yes, I believe it was Pacman’s first fight in the USA.
“I believe our mission in this world is not only to make money . . . if you get the blessing from God, we are to give some to your people, especially the poor people,” said Pacquiao, who is setting his sights in another completely new battlefield—the political arena.
Thnks David for this article.
Pacmans phenom is unprecedented in boxing history.An athlete rarely comes in time when history unfolds one of the greatest in the mold of tyson,ali,sugar ray leonard and the likes of michael jordan,tiger woods etc etc…who can match his feat befitting a barely 106 lbs boxer to a now 145 lbs fighter that is very very difficult to beat. You can hear this from great boxing trainers,emcee,boxing writers,former legends in boxing and others. Thats bcos they see in Pacman the fighter..the man destined to fight till the last drop of his blood, to win and to show his guts inside the ring. His heart is so big.
PACQUAIO THE GREATEST OF ASIA!!! WE ARE VERY PROUD OF YOU HERE IN INDONESIA!!GOOD LUCK and GOD BLESS!!
Pacquiao’s signature wins over hard hitters Chatchai Sasakul, Ledwaba, Barrera 2x,
Morales 3x, Marquez 2x, Diaz, DLH and Hatton are but testimonials that he has what it takes to bring home the bacon from real bangers. May it be heavy hitters or crafty fighters, the Pacman always have an answer… Unparalelled Speedo!
As skillful and crafty boxers like Sugar Ray Leonard, Smokin’ Joe Fraizer and Muhammad Ali, I am with the belief that the more mobile and faster hands in Pacman’s resume’ would end up with results similar to what these three have accomplished due to their tremendous speed advantage over their opponents in the past.
During the Leonard-Hearns showdown back in September of 1981, Hearns was clearly the bigger puncher. But Leonard because of his SPEED and versatility was more dangerous and would figure a way to neutralize Hearns’ reach
and power. Sugar Ray won that fight.
During the first Ali – Frazier bout, no one is in the belief that Fraizer, being a much smaller guy, can beat a prime Ali. But whoa… look what Fraizer did to Ali! The latter lost a toe-to-toe slug-fest and no doubt was hurt by Joe.
On the other hand, nobody then is convinced that an ageing Ali ( though faster and agile ) would upend, much less Knock Out ( KO ), the bone chilling KO artist George Foreman. The manner Big George manhandled Smokin’ Joe and Ken Norton before facing Ali was something to think about… ( both had a classic fight with Ali ). Foreman did’nt just beat these two guys, he almost killed both!
Style makes fight! Manny indeed is in a class by himself. He is second to none when it comes to speed, grit and bravado. Cotto would eventually end up just as dela Hoya and Hatton got from Manny… Manny Pacquiao is a rare breed, coming in only every century. Meaning… 90 more years to wait for another Pacman!
What’s the use of strong hands if one can’t even find its mark? You can’t hit what you can’t see!
The scary thing here is… the Pacman packs with blinding jabs and can follow ‘em up with up to 3, 4 or even 5 blistering hits with milisecond intervals between ‘em! His newly developed right hook provides problem with utter confusion amongst recent Pacman bigtime victims.
Talk about reality… here’s one for the books… Would you believe if I tell you that Manny in reality is a Left and Right hander at the same time. In Boxing, he’s a Southpaw ( Left hander ). But outside it, he plays dart, he eats, shoot the hoop, hit the pool table and writes with his Right hand all along.
Freddy Roach must have noticed this and perhaps, could be the reason why he started to experiment and then develop Manny’s Right hand. Not from his Left to his Right… but BOTH the left and the right…. point 2d east and point 2d west…
Wow! That indeed is a scary among foes. Imagine, having to fight an opponent with TWO lethal weapons instead of the usual fighter having just ONE! Others have either the left OR the right…
but never AND! ( both the left AND the right )…
Darn… I would turn nuts trying to figure it all out!
I wouldn’t have chosen to be in Cotto’s assignment table.
Miguel Cotto only knows it too well… what situation he is into… For if not, how then can you explain his long preparation for this bout? He didn’t prepared this lengthily against Mosley, Judah or Margarito! He knows exactly what he’s up to in Manny.
I would like to believe he’s preparing like hell… something like… the manner of parrying plates and drinking glasses being thrown at you by your wife upon knowing that you’ve got another girl !