Anyone who’s traded elbows in this space with Manny Pacquiao’s fans know what a freaking phenomenon the man has become, and it’s hard to dispute the ring accomplishments of the junior welterweight champion and pound-for-pound king. But there have been some recent new indicators of his success that, taken collectively, suggest he’s bigger still than I realized.
- Forbes a half-dozen weeks ago listed him as the sixth-highest paid athlete in the world — tied with LeBron James. He also made the Celebrity 100 list.
- Last week, he cracked Yahoo!’s top 10 most-searched list. He was just a spot behind Megan Fox. On Google Trends, he’s launched well past the other best-known active boxer, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
- In the ESPYs, which aired a few weeks ago, he won the award for “Fighter of the Year,” and, receiving the widespread sports-world recognition few boxers get these days, he was up for “Best Play,” too, with his knockout of Ricky Hatton losing to Ben Roethlisberger’s Super Bowl-winning pass to Santonio Holmes.
Almost every week it’s something — Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter love him (but Kobe loses a “best athlete” poll to him), Sylvester Stallone wants to make a movie with him, he breaks into the Time 100 list of most influential people, he gets a new job… It’s almost getting to the point that no hyperbole involving Pacquiao is that much of a stretch anymore.
Let me give it a try: If Pacquiao fights Floyd Mayweather in 2010, it will accelerate by two years the Mayan end-times prophecy. I don’t care if that prophecy’s a myth or not. Believe me, IT WILL HAPPEN.
(Megan: Hotter than Manny, but just by a smidge.)