Friday, March 27, 2009 | 2 a.m.
The man known as the world’s pound-for-pound champ proved it again, at least in the eyes of boxing pundits as Manny Pacquiao was voted fighter of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America this week.
The Filipino superstar, who beat out recently retired Welshman Joe Calzaghe for the honor, had a year for the history books.
The lefty from General Santos City, Philippines — who has been compared to Henry Armstrong, the only boxer in the sport’s history to hold three world titles simultaneously when he won belts in the featherweight, welterweight and lightweight classes between November 1937 and August 1938 — won two titles himself in 2008. He captured the WBC super featherweight crown with a win over Juan Manuel Marquez and the WBC lightweight title by knocking out David Diaz. He also stopped Oscar De La Hoya in the eighth round last December at the MGM Grand.
The honor was the second time that Pacquiao, who also was recently included among Time Magazine’s finalists for its annual list of 100 Most Influential People in the World, has been named fighter of the year. He also won the BWAA award in 2006.
Joining Pacquiao on the awards list was his trainer, Freddie Roach, who took the top honor for trainer of the year for the third time in his career, having won in 2003 and 2006.
“It’s always nice to be recognized for doing a good job. I appreciate it a lot,” Roach told the Los Angeles Times.
“We worked hard on making Manny a better fighter, and I think he was last year.”
Encore: The tandem will get their first test in order to repeat its honors on May 2 when Pacquiao takes on England’s Ricky Hatton in a megafight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Fight fans won’t have to wait long for the action to start. On Monday, Pacquaio and Roach, along with Hatton and his trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., will be making their only U.S. appearance together before fight week in Hollywood, Calif.
The two boxers will take part in a red carpet event and media news conference at the famed Roosevelt Hotel, hyping “The Battle of East and West.”
Roach must already be working on Pacquiao’s mental approach, planting the seed that he expects an early victory.
“I told Manny I would be extremely disappointed if this fight goes past the third round,” Roach said.
Mayweather next?: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said if Pacquiao wins, he’s not exactly chomping at the bit to set up a superfight between him and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“Well, you know, first Manny Pacquiao has to beat Ricky Hatton, and secondly I’m not thrilled about Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather because there are other fighters who draw a lot better than Mayweather that if Pacquiao beats Hatton I would like to put Pacquiao (in) with (them),” Arum told boxingscene.com.
Of course, Mayweather Jr. would have to unofficially retire first and get past Hatton second.
Roach didn’t seem overly thrilled with the pairing, either.
“If we win I don’t have a lot of interest in fighting Mayweather,” he said. “Even if you beat him you look bad doing it. Mayweather is very skilled.
“I don’t like his style — he’s a runner, but is a great boxer.”