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Monday, December 29, 2008

Pacquiao amasses huge lead in ESPN’s ‘champ of champs’

MANILA, Philippines – Might as well add the ESPN Star Sports' Champion of Champions’ title to Manny Pacquiao’s growing list of achievements.

Pacquiao, who fought in three weight divisions to go 3-0 in 2008, could very well be the winner of the online poll contest as he enjoys a huge lead over Malaysian squash player Nicol David.

As of Saturday, results of the online poll gave Pacquiao an overwhelming 80.74 lead over Nicol. The Filipino boxing icon garnered 90.73 percent of the votes while the world’s top ranked squash player earned 9.63 percent.

Pacquiao made history in 2008 when he became the first Asian to wear four world titles in three different weight divisions. He is the reigning World Boxing Council (WBC) and The Ring magazine’s super featherweight champion after beating Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in a split decision on March 15.

He then added the WBC lightweight belt after scoring a ninth-round knockout win over David Diaz on June 28. But what made Pacquiao sort of a demigod in the boxing world is his eight-round demolition of future Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya on December 6.

He also earned the nickname as the “Mexecutioner" after nine of his last 14 fights were against Mexican champion boxers. He fought Erik Morales three times and, faced Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez twice in that span.

Pacquiao won 12 of those 14 fights losing only once in his first meeting with Morales on March 19 2005. He was held to a draw by Marquez on May 8, 2004 and had to wait for four years before beating the Mexican in a split decision.

He earned the Ring Magazine’s top pound-for-pound boxer after then holder Floyd Mayweather Jr. retired this year. Pacquiao is also a former Ring Magazine featherweight champion, once hold the International Boxing Federation bantamweight crown and held the WBC flyweight belt.

David earned a spot in the finals after becoming the first Asian to top the world rankings. She is the reigning World Open and British Open champion, titles which she also won in 2005 and 2006.

Pacquiao and David arranged a finals showdown after beating cricket superstars Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in the semifinals.

The final day of voting is on December 30 with the winner to be announced in ESPN Sports Center.

Other big name sports stars in the list are NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, Indian cricket sensation MS Dhoni, Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo, reigning world no.1 tennis player Rafael Nadal, Beijing Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, legendary football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, world 100-meter record holder Usain Bolt, Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, golf’s Tiger Woods and world MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi.


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