BoxingWatchers.com 2008 Fighter of the Year: Manny Pacquiao

If you've been reading this site for any length of time, you know that the BoxingWatchers are all part Filipino. Normally, that would make picking Manny Pacquiao for Fighter of the Year smack of being a homer pick, but he had such a phenomenal 2008 that there are simply no worries.

The numbers alone were pretty impressive: three fights, three wins in three different weight classes. He won titles in the first two fights and won by knockout in the last two.

Pac Man's opponents covered the whole spectrum, from one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world (Juan Manuel Marquez) to a game but outgunned lightweight (David Diaz) to a Hall of Famer in the twilight of his career (Oscar De La Hoya). It's worth mentioning one final time that many mainstream sports pundits considered his fight with De La Hoya a joke, that the expected size difference would make it impossible for Pacquiao to win. It only took one round to erase that notion.

Even though Manny turned 30 just a few weeks ago, he continues to improve. The version of Pacquiao from, say, five years ago would not have been able to fight the style that he utilized against the Golden Boy, darting in and out and perplexing his foe with his footwork. Much of the credit for that should go to trainer Freddie Roach, but give Manny some too for realizing that continuing to evolve from one-dimensional (though devastating) attacker to well-rounded boxer would serve him well.

On top of all of that, he remains humble even as he reaches the point where he is going to regularly be involved in the most high profile fights in the sport. He's already lined up Ricky Hatton and the buzz about a fight with a returning Floyd Mayweather won't go away.

Could he repeat as Fighter of the Year in 2009? After this year, you can't count him out.

Reader Picks: The readers also backed Pacquiao by a wide margin, giving him 77 percent of the vote. The only other boxer to gather double-digit support was Arthur Abraham, who knocked out all three of his 2008 opponents and now has to be taken seriously by all but the harshest Euro-critics.

Emerging star Chad Dawson received several votes and was name-dropped by Money Mayweather himself as the finest in the game. Last but not least, one reader (maybe the fighter himself!) was impressed enough by Joe Calzaghe in his decision victories over certain Hall of Famers Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones to give him the nod.

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