What's Next For Boxing Champ Manny Pacquiao?

"Pacman" Is Possibly The Best Boxer on Earth But Now His Focus Is Shifting to Politics

We haven't done many stories about boxers, but there's good reason to do one now: next Saturday there will be a fight in Dallas featuring a 31-year-old Filipino who is, quite simply, the best boxer in the world today.

His name is Manny Pacquiao and he is generating excitement not seen in the ring since Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard or Muhammad Ali. Incredibly, Pacquiao, or "Pacman," as he's called, holds world champion titles in seven weight divisions - from 105 pounds to 148. That has never been done before.

And on Saturday, he'll be going for his eighth title. In the Philippines he's an obsession - everybody watches every fight. When he's in the ring, the insurgents call a ceasefire in their running battle with the Philippine army. They're not risking anything, as the soldiers are watching too.

60 Minutes Overtime: Manny Pacquiao
Bob Simon takes you inside the world of "Pacman," where throngs of Filipinos gather at the gates of boxer Manny Pacquiao.

What psychs out his opponents even before the fight begins is the way Pacquiao walks down that aisle: smiling. He looks like he doesn't have a care in the world, as if he was going to a dance and not a duel.

"I've never seen a fighter walk towards the ring smiling. Are you just doing that? Is it a tactic? Or are you really happy?" "60 Minutes" correspondent Bob Simon asked.

"That's me. I'm always smiling," Pacquiao replied, with a big smile on his face.

He is more than a fighter - he is a phenomenon. He is equally brutal with his left and his right, always hammering boxers a lot larger than he is. He ducks and he dances. It doesn't disturb him when he gets hit because retaliation is instant.

After a fight, Pacquiao always goes down on his knees in prayer; that's the closest he ever gets to the canvas.

Asked just how good Pacquiao is, promoter Bob Arum told Simon, "I think that Manny Pacquiao is the best fighter that I have ever seen."

Arum has promoted many of the world's great fighters, including the greatest.

Arum told Simon he promoted 25 fights for Muhammad Ali and that Pacquiao is a greater fighter. "Because Muhammad Ali was essentially a one-handed fighter," Arum explained. "Manny Pacquiao really shocks these fighters because he hits equally hard from the left side and the right side."

Most boxers are born poor, Pacquiao was born hungry. He grew up in the unpaved alleys of a forlorn city called General Santos. His single mother had six children to support. They often missed school to help her sell cigarettes in the streets. But, like many youngsters determined to get out of the slums, Pacquiao would often disappear.

He had a secret: in the beginning, he didn't tell his mom he was boxing. "She doesn't want me to box," he told Simon about the early days of his career.

She wanted him to be a priest; he wanted to play basketball. But basketball didn't bring in bread. Boxing did.

In the beginning, Pacquiao told Simon he made the equivalent of about $2 to box.

"And what are you making now?" Simon asked.

"Millions," Pacquiao replied, laughing.

General Santos churns out a remarkable number of champions, because boxing is the only way for these poor kids to make a little money. But the $2 Pacquiao was earning wasn't feeding his family. So, when he turned 14, he left home to try for more.