Consider this: Prince Naseem Hamed, regarded as one of the greatest talents to emerge from Britain, was crowned world champion in only one division.
It wasn’t for the lack of trying. His trainer Brendan Ingle had predicted, before Hamed became featherweight king in 1995, that triumphing in at least four categories was possible.
What does that say for the amazing Filipino Manny Pacquiao who, by stopping Miguel Cotto in the 12th and final round in Las Vegas last Saturday, became WBO welterweight champion?
It may not seem a great achievement to those unfamiliar with the formidable Puerto Rican Cotto or how Pacquiao began his career weighing only 7st 8lbs.
Pacquiao’s victory, however, made him a legitimate world champion in five divisions from flyweight to welterweight (10st 7lbs).
If you include less established belts, the total would be six, as he knocked cold Britain’s Ricky Hatton for the IBO’s light-welterweight crown in May.
Had Pacquiao opted to consider the super-flyweight and bantamweight belts instead of going straight from flyweight to super-bantam, or had he defeated Juan Manuel Marquez at featherweight in 2004 instead of drawing (having floored the Mexican three times in the opening round), the total might be eight or nine.
Even more astonishing is not how Pacquiao has risen through the divisions and maintained his speed, power and precision, but also how he rebounded from two knockout defeats when he was much smaller.
Because of the 30-year-old’s ruthless streak of success, Pacquiao is revered in his homeland, where the country comes to a virtual standstill for his fights.
Floyd Mayweather Jr
Great: Floyd Mayweather Jr
Pacquiao, however, is also an inspiration to any fighter who has suffered defeat and believes there is no way back. Pacquiao is a phenomenon and, although the sport has changed considerably since championships first began, he would undoubtedly have held his own in any era.
As a Filipino, Pacquiao often has to forsake home advantage to travel where the money is, yet he has polished off a host of big names who have made Las Vegas their adopted home.
None were greater than Oscar De La Hoya, a six-division former champion made to quit after eight rounds by Pacquiao last December.
Pacquiao defeated the excellent Marquez in their rematch, twice toppled Hamed’s conqueror, Marco Antonio Barrera, and did the same to another outstanding Mexican, Erik Morales — after Morales had won the first of their three meetings.
That loss, back in 2005, was Pacquiao’s third and last in 55 contests.
Beating Cotto, though, confirmed for me Pacquiao’s position as the sport’s supreme fighter if the criteria is based on achievement rather than natural talent and skill.
The only fighter who can possibly challenge his status is American Floyd Mayweather Jnr, who in 40 fights has never been defeated.
As they operate at roughly the same weight, such a fight is a natural for 2010 and promises to challenge worldwide pay-per-view and box office records.
Mayweather, brash and confident, is a multi-weight (five) champion himself and a defensive maestro, whereas Pacquiao is a devastating attacking force.
Their styles and personalities are a perfect contrast. Mayweather has insisted he is the premier attraction and should command the greater share of the financial pot, but the manner of Pacquiao’s domination of Cotto has once more seriously threatened that argument.