The 8th round stoppage of the Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya plus Pacquiao’s other two victories in 2008 – his March 15 split-decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in their instant classic rematch and his June 28 ninth-round TKO of David Diaz unanimously voted Manny Pacquiao as the 2008 Fighter of the Year
The version of Pacquiao that won junior lightweight and lightweight titles this year was not the same little ball of fire that won flyweight and junior featherweight belts. He’s still relentless but he’s no longer reckless. He doesn’t gamble in the ring anymore, he takes calculated risks.
In other words, Pacquiao still has heart, but he’s added brain to his game.
Fans and media can argue about the verdict of Pacquiao’s narrow points win over Marquez, but what can’t be debated is that he actually boxed with the Mexican technician. Pacquiao was able to time, feint and counter-punch a master counter-puncher.
Diaz could have been described as the “weakest link” among lightweight titleholders when Pacquiao challenged him. He could even be dismissed as “limited” or “one-dimensional." But nobody can deny that the Chicagoan is as tough as they come.
And nobody can deny that Pacquiao punished Diaz more than any of the once-beaten ’96 U.S. Olympian’s previous 36 foes had. But Pacquiao didn’t merely bludgeon Diaz into submission, he out-classed the gutsy pressure fighter in every conceivable way – controlling the pace and distance with his footwork while setting up his power-punch combinations with impeccable timing.
Pacquiao did the same thing to De La Hoya, but he had to follow a strict strategy in order to pull it off and he did so with the confidence and fluidity of a natural-born boxer.
source: The Ring Magazine