Manny Pacquiao's (right) decision to fight Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin at a higher weight category has been criticised by members of his think tank. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: His legacy has long been secured as the only eight-division world champion in the history of boxing, but now Manny Pacquiao is seeking to go one step further and claim an unprecedented ninth weight division title.

The boxing pride of the Philippines, who has boxed for the most part of his career at the 147lb welterweight limit, wants to move up two weights and almost a stone when he returns to the ring this year.

Pacquiao was last seen in action in July 2019 when he defeated Keith Thurman to win the WBA (Super) welterweight title and become the division’s oldest world champion at the age of 40. He also became the first boxer in history to become a four-time welterweight champion.

However, a move up to middleweight (154–160lbs) is something he has never attempted in his career which has seen him compete in 71 fights for 62 wins since his professional debut in January 22, 1995 in a junior flyweight bout. He was just 16 years old at the time.

His natural weight is welterweight where in 2008 he beat the great Oscar De La Hoya in a monumental upset. He has also fought as high as super-welterweight (154lbs), when he defeat against Antonio Margarito in 2010 to win the WBC title.

Manny Pacquiao caught Keith Thurman with a right hook 06
Manny Pacquiao (right) in full flurry during his win over Keith Thurman in his last fight in July last year. Image Credit: Supplied picture

‘Pacman’, as he is affectionately called by his legion of fans in the Philippines, has won in the lightweight, flyweight, Super-bantamweight, Featherweight, Super-featherweight, Lightweight, Light-welterweight and welterweight divisions.

He has received callouts from welterweight champions Errol Spence Jr, 30, and Terence Crawford, 33, as well as 32-year-old Mickey Garcia, but Pacquiao’s long-time trainer Freddie Roach has said that the Filipino is more interested in fighting someone like Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin.

News that has shocked the boxing world.

Kazakhstan’s Golovkin, 38, has shaped his career largely by sticking to the middleweight division where he lost just two of his 42 career fifths, 35 of which he has won by deadly knockouts.

GGG is a pressure fighter who is known for the explosive power his punches pack and his precise striking to the body and head. He won both his fights in 2019, the first by KO against Canada’s Seve Rolls in June and the second against Ukrainian Sergiy Derevyanchenko in October.

Roach, Pacquiao’s coach and soulmate, joined promoter Bob Arum to speak against it. “I would not advise him to go 160lbs, that would be a little crazy. But putting him at 147lbs was a risk at one time,” he told DAZN.

“But to fight the biggest guys at 147lbs with the money, it made good sense to all of us to fight the great Oscar. It was a great deal and it worked out really well for us.”

Unbeaten super-featherweight Oscar Valdez, who is unbeaten in 28 career fights, described Pacquiao’s bid to fight Golovkin at 160lbs as ‘crazy.’

“Everybody wants to fight Pacquiao,” he told Fighthub.

“Pacquiao chooses who he wants to fight. He wants to fight Golovkin, he’s crazy.”

However, Mikey Garcia was on the Filipino’s side and even was of the opinion that he would beat Golovkin. It may seem improbable that Pacquiao can step up 13lbs to 160lbs against Golovkin, but stranger things have happened in the sport of boxing.