Up and Coming Prospect
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Originally Posted by Augustane
A lot of people give Pacquiao criticism for his catchweights in the welterweight division, but I honestly feel that this is only because we've put him on such a pedestal. We fight fans have given Manny a Superman-like status against any welterweight that isn't Floyd Mayweather. That's the Pacquiao we all know now, the one that's been comfortably fighting at 147 for several years. We don't remember that Pacquiao, when fighting those catchweights, was still the David against the Goliaths of the welterweight division.
To put things into perspective, I want to give you a list of weight classes and how long Manny Pacquiao spent in them.
Flyweight 108-112 - 4 years
Bantamweight 118-122 - 4 years
Featherweight 126-130 - 5 years
Lightweight 135 - One fight 
Welterweight 147 - One fight [Six months later]
Light Welterweight 140 - [Six months later]
Welterweight 145 - [Six months later]
Welterweight 147 - [Four months later]*
Light Middleweight 150 - [Eight months later]**
Welterweight 147 - 2011
Welterweight 144 - 2011***
Welterweight 147 - 2012
Welterweight 147 - 2012
* Clottey weighed ~165, while Pacquiao weighed 150~ on fight night.
** Margarito weighed 168, while Pacquiao weighed 151 on fight night.
*** Pacquiao fought Marquez at a catchweight of 144.
~ This entire segment occurred in two years.
My point is that Pacquiao skipped an entire lightweight division and jumped headfirst into the welterweight division. While we all complain of him draining fighters now, we fail to realize that he was still growing into the division and was a very small fighter at the time. The reasons for catchweights were legitimate. While Pacquiao had 3-5 years to develop into his other weight classes, he jumped two of them in two fights, then proceeded to battle welterweight and light middleweight giants.
It was only after Pacquiao blazed through the division, that we've found flaws and say that these fighters were drained. Realistically at the time these fights were made, it was reasonable to say that these catchweights leveled the playing field enough for these classic fights to have been made. When you remember that Clottey, De La Hoya, and Margarito fought a fighter fresh out of featherweight and outweighed him by 15-18 lbs, you have to give credit where it's due.
Lastly, I've seen many people complain that Pacquiao forced Marquez up in weight. You need to remember that Mayweather did the same thing, setting the fight at 147 and coming in overweight. Pacquiao did fight at a 144lb catchweight and came in weighing even less than Marquez on fight night. Pacquiao and Marquez are in reality, much closer in weight than many would think.
I just feel that Pacquiao's achievements have lost their luster recently due to allegations of catchweights. I feel like it's only right to shed a little bit of perspective onto the subject. I don't expect to change any minds.
TL;DR: Pacquiao had 3-5 years to adjust to weights from flyweight up to featherweight. His jump from 130 to 135 to 147 was a matter of one year. He then jumped to 154 in the next year. It's not ridiculous to say that the catchweights had some genuine legitimacy.
Wow, this topic has never been brought up before.