MANILA, DECEMBER 27, 2010 (STAR)  By Abac Cordero – Manny Pacquiao is on top of Sports Illustrated’s boxing stories for 2010.

The 32-year-old Filipino champion was cited for his incredible feats for the year that’s about to end, which the mother of all sports magazines has labeled as “The Year of Pacquiao.”

The heavy-handed southpaw crushed Joshua Clottey in March, then Antonio Margarito in November. In May, he was elected congressman in the lone district of his home province, Sarangani.

Pacquiao ranked 17th in the American magazine’s top male athletes of the decade, Tiger Woods of golf, Roger Federer of tennis and Michael Phelps of swimming occupying the top 3 positions.

But as far as boxing is concerned, Pacquiao is SI’s top choice for 2010.

Bryan Armen Graham, an SI columnist, described Pacquiao as a “global phenomenon,” and “one that penetrated the American sporting mainstream like no other Asian-born athlete in history.”

The sports magazine that has 3.5 million subscribers cited Pacquiao for having won eight world titles in as many weight divisions, or nearly half of the 17 weight classifications there is in boxing.

In 2010, Pacquiao was everywhere. He was on 60 Minutes, Time Magazine, BIOgraphy Channel, Jimmy Kimmel Show, and was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of American as its Fighter of the Decade.

Despite all the accolades, Pacquiao remained down to earth.

“I’m just an ordinary boxer trying to make the people happy,” he said, adding that he’s not after all the awards because to him, giving his best in every fight is the most important thing.

“It’s the only way I can give it back to the fans,” he’d often say.

Ranked second, behind Pacquiao’s success story was Floyd Mayweather, whom others still consider as the pound-for-pound champion, but not much for his victory over Shane Mosley last May.

Graham mentioned Mayweather’s personal battles, including a domestic violence case that could keep him in jail until he grows old, and a “profanity-laced and racially-charged” online tirade against Pacquiao.

“I’ll make that mother f----- make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice,” was part of Mayweather’s verbal flurry that was caught on video, He did apologize, saying he was just having fun.

Incidentally, the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, the superfight that just wouldn’t happen, was SI’s No. 10 boxing story for the year. It was supposed to take place last May, but never did.

“The megafight that didn’t happen. This was the year we all learned much more than we cared to know about Olympic-style drug testing,” wrote Graham in his compilation.

“Unfortunately, Mayweather-Pacquiao is no longer a dream matchup, it’s an obligation: a fight the public has made. It wouldn’t just be a showdown between the sport’s two best pound-for-pound fighters.

“(I)t’d be the most delicious clash of styles boxing fans have seen in ages: Pacquiao’s oppressive, offensive force against Mayweather, the foremost defensive tactician of our generation,” Graham continued.

Last week, SI also came out with its Top 10 stories for soccer, and at No. 10 was the Philippine Azkals’ unforgettable 2-0 upset of Vietnam in the group stage of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

The Azkals went on to lose its semis tie with Indonesia, but should be more than thrilled, happy and proud, just like Pacquiao, to have caught the eye of the 56-year-old sports magazine .

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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