Approaching his 71st bout of a career that has spanned three decades, Manny Pacquiao has been around longer than most fighters. Blockbuster pay-per-view record smashing match-ups against the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr and Juan Manuel Marquez have put him solidly in the Boxing Hall of Fame but more recently there have been questions asked about his longevity.
At 40 years old, it seemed as if father time was well and truly against him, and with a recent fight against a massively unfancied Australian by the name of Jeff Horn ending in defeat, it seemed as though the writing was on the wall for the ‘once great’ fighter. Bucking the trend many expected, Manny followed up that loss with seriously impressive wins against Lucas Mattysse (W39 L5) and the once heralded next great of boxing, Adrien Broner (W33 L3).
This recent resurgence has seen him rocket back up in to contention and be matched with the unbeaten Keith Thurman, a man who made his debut a full 12 years after Pac Man. The Thurman v Pacquiao betting odds make for interesting reading though, with Thurman coming in as an 8/11 favorite.
With this in mind we decided to have a look at other fighters who were in the game a really, really long time:
Pro Debut: 1968, Aged 16.
Retired: 2002, Aged 50.
Record: 116 Fights, 103 Wins
Starting with someone who is considered by many to be the greatest lightweight of all time, El Cholo began his career at 16 years old in Panama and won his first 31 fights in a row, with wins against many future world champions in the process. Over the course of his career he won world championships in four separate weight classes and amassed a crazy 103 wins, with 70 of them coming by way of knockout. After a career spanning 34 years Duran hung up his gloves following a car crash in January 2002 otherwise who knows how long he could have continued for.
Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock
Pro Debut: 1982, Aged 19.
Retired: 2015, Aged 52.
Record: 47 Fights, 40 Wins
Probably best known for his two losses against ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, Ruddock’s career is surprising considering it went on for so long with so few fights. This is because of a massive period of retirement from 2001 until fighting a further three times in 2015 before finally hanging up his gloves.
Pro Debut: 1979, Aged 21.
Retired: 2008, Aged 51.
Record: 47 Fights, 39 Wins
Hailing from Ghana, Nelson is considered by many to be the greatest African boxer of all time. Similarly to Ruddock, Azumah Nelson’s long career is mainly down to having a large period of inactivity due to retirement, only to come back and fight again. His comeback fight in 2008 ended in defeat to Jeff Fenech, however it didn’t take away from a seriously impressive career which saw him claim three world titles.
With the way Pacquiao is going, who knows how many fights he has left in him. One thing is for sure, should he beat Thurman, there will be further fights for him and is certainly a chance for him to have the longest pro career of any boxer in history.