It was the summer of 2001, when a 23-year-old flyweight named Manny Pacquiao first walked into the famed Wild Card Gym in Hollywood.
From there, it was magic, as the Philippine boxing icon would go on to win world titles in 8 divisions under the guidance of legendary trainer Freddie Roach.
"I feel happy and amazing. After 20 years, I’m still here. I keep on fighting with the best... All the honor, glory belong to God," said Pacquiao.
The drive and winning partnership have continued, as the Pacman wraps up his third week of training camp for his August 21st fight against Errol Spence.
Roach believes, "we win this one, we're definitely the best fighter of all time."
Team Pacquiao celebrated a 20-year milestone last month. Back in June 23, 2001, about two weeks into the new Manny-Freddie partnership, the Pacman was called in as a replacement challenger against South African Lehlo Ledwaba.
The IBF world bantamweight champion was considered one of the best in the division, until the then-unknown Pacquiao, who held a flyweight title at the time, took him out in six rounds.
It was Pacquiao's first U.S. fight and pay-per-view appearance. The victory helped the Filipino boxer bag bigger fights, pay-per-view headlines, and more history-making wins.
Unfortunately, as Pacquiao was arriving in the U.S. this month, news broke that Ledwaba had passed away at the age of 49 due to COVID-19.
After his fight with Pacquiao, Ledwaba quietly finished his career with 7 more fights, winning 3, losing 4, mostly in South Africa. He last fought in 2006, but remained in the sport as a trainer, manager, and promoter.
Upon Ledwaba's passing, Pacquiao expressed his condolences and admiration for the man who helped pave the way for his success. Roach was also saddened by the death and described Ledwaba as a 'great opponent.'