It’s been 4 years since I blogged about Manny Pacquiao’s losing fight with Floyd Mayweather.

Since then, Pacquiao’s boxing career has been subjected to much discussion. And in the recent fight with Keith Thurman, who is ten years Pacquiao’s junior, generated the typical anticipation and hype.

There’s a lot to be learned from Pacquiao, from his indomitable spirit, his unwavering faith, and his humility in success.

From humble roots to a shining boxing career that led him to global fame, Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao has reached a legendary status.

Against all odds, he has made his mark in the world of boxing and his journey is one that both athletes and entrepreneurs can look for inspiration.

Here are some of my observations and seven lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Manny Pacquiao – as he became the worlds oldest Welterweight Champion in history.

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1. Never underestimate your opponent

“Manny Pacquiao is a legend and a great man. But with all due respect, I can’t wait to punch him in the mouth.” ~ Keith Thurman

Whether it was purely a marketing tactic or an attempt to intimidate the Pacquiao camp, Thurman’s pre-fight comments were considered by many as ‘below the belt’, including saying he will “crucify” Pacquiao in the ring.

He also compared Pacman to a dinosaur and heckled him by saying he fights with tiny “T-rex arms.”

Result: In round 1, Pacquiao landed 11 punches. All power punches. And those tiny T-rex arms scored him a knockdown.

As an entrepreneur, self-belief will get you a long way, but if you let it skew your reality and make you overconfident or arrogant – you are setting yourself up to fail.

Never underestimate the little guy. Or his tiny T-rex arms.

”For me nothing is personal. Our job is to fight. He has to prove something, and I have to prove something. It’s easy to say things. But it’s not so easy to do it in the ring” he says.

2. Use age and experience to your advantage

“When you work hard in the gym, you can do what you want to do in the ring” ~ Manny Pacquiao

At 40, most would say Pacquiao is past retirement age for a sport like boxing.

Ahead of the fight, Thurman mocked Pacquiao for his age, telling him to “go play basketball” because “he doesn’t have much time left”. Meanwhile, Pacquiao sees his age as an advantage. Pacquiao has said he wants to prove “not all 40 years olds are finished”.

According to strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune, Manny is the same “super fighter” but even more dangerous with 70 fights to his name. “He’s still there. He just gained a whole bunch of experience. He sees a lot more, he does a lot more and he’s more tactical.

For entrepreneurs, it’s important to remember that age and experience do not necessarily dictate performance.

Leverage on your experience and stay at the top of your game by continuing to train your brain and take care of your health.

“This is the time I want to prove not all 40-year-olds are over, their careers finished.”

3. Don’t just punch, fly

“If you practice hard, you can win every battle.” ~ Manny Pacquiao

Pacquiao punches like Superman flies. He may be small but when Pacquiao throws a punch, he flies into it with his whole body. If you haven’t got the height, go with speed and power.

But how strong exactly is Manny Pacquiao’s punch? According to this video by The iNet News, being punched by Manny is like being hit by a shotgun. The speed of his punch is just .12 seconds, that’s less than a blink of an eye which takes 0.3 seconds.

Entrepreneurs can only win if they play to their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. Unlike boxing which is a solo game (once in the ring), entrepreneurs have the benefit of fortifying their weaknesses by bringing the best people onto their teams.

That being said, in my opinion, boxing is still very much a team sport and even Manny Pacquiao attributes his wins to his team, his fans and his faith.

“All those who are around me are the bridge to my success, so they are all important.”

4. Don’t be afraid of getting hit

I could see he was having problems taking my punches. I had no problem taking his” ~ Manny Pacquiao

When he’s really under fire, you only have to look into Manny’s eyes to see how he controls and strengthens his focus.

His other advantage is that he can really take a punch and doesn’t seem to have any problem with being hit in the face.

Sometimes, after taking a punch you can even get a glimpse of what I call, his signature smirk. Is this a quiet appreciation of his opponent’s skill? Or maybe he’s just learned to love the pain.

Boxers know that to be a good fighter they are going to get punched in the face, but as entrepreneurs, we seem to take failure much harder.

Success isn’t about not having hard days, it’s not about getting things right every time or having a team that performs flawlessly.

Being an entrepreneur is about learning from mistakes, about getting back out there after a humiliating failure, and appreciating that every challenge can only strengthen our resilience.

“Fearless is getting back up and fighting for what you want over and over again, even though every time you’ve tried before you’ve lost.”

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5. Fight for something bigger

While winning might be Manny’s goal, winning is about more than belts, fame or money. Manny sees each match as a fight for the crown and country, and for God. This deep faith can be extremely powerful.

But faith alone is not enough. As entrepreneurs, no amount of praying, vision boarding, dreaming or manifesting will ever get results without action.

While Manny has repeatedly been quoted to say his faith is what keeps him fighting and winning, he also attributes these values to his success: dedication, perseverance, courage, extreme self-discipline.

As someone from very humble beginnings, Manny sees boxing as a way to inspire millions of people in the Philippines.

“I want the people of the Philippines to be happy, even if they have nothing”.

As an entrepreneur, striving for something bigger than just your own success will give you a sense of purpose that will keep you going – even through the toughest times.

“It’s not about material things, it’s about the honor that I’m bringing to the country.”

6. Trust your instincts

Manny is a freak of nature with his speed~ Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini

Some physical moves are too quick to anticipate. But Manny’s incredible speed, coupled with his instinct for predicting an opponent’s next move is what gives him the edge.

When Pacquiao starts to tire, he slows down, letting his opponents dance around him, holding the centre of the ring – while conserving energy for his next move.

He becomes even more focused and deliberate. He rarely makes careless, desperate moves in an attempt to gain points.

And at the first sign of weakness, he’s immediately on the attack raining down with simultaneous deadly moves, hands and feet perfectly synchronised, while maintaining eye contact and anticipating every move of his opponent.

This is a lethal combination of focus and execution that most entrepreneurs can only dream of.

Boxing isn’t just about physical training, it requires a huge amount of mental stamina and conditioning.

Experience in the ring is only successful with close observation of your opponent and understanding their movements.

In business, just like in boxing, learning to trust your instincts, and quickly acting on them, can be the difference between winning and losing.

“If you practice hard, you can win every battle.”

7. Prove people wrong

“I am going to teach him a lesson” ~ Manny Pacquiao

The last time I blogged about Pacquiao in May 2015, he lost to Floyd Mayweather. He went on to win two more fights before losing again to Jeff Horn. He won another two fights before today’s fight.

Every time he loses a fight the naysayers say his career is over. And yet he keeps coming back. And winning.

After hearing Thurman’s non-stop trash-talking before the match Pacquiao was quoted to have said he was going to teach him a lesson.

“I hope Keith Thurman studied hard because Prof. Pacquiao gives out very hard tests”.

Thurman was only 10 years old when Pacquiao won his first world championship match.

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After the fight Manny Pacquiao was, as always, humble and respectful about his win, praising his opponent as a good, strong fighter with a promising career ahead. Thousands of comments online discouraging Manny from continuing his boxing career made no impact on his desire and determination to keep fighting and winning.

“Tonight was a blessing and a lesson. Thank you everybody, and thank you Manny Pacquiao” ~ Keith Thurman.

If you’ve heard of Brene Brown, you will know of her famous video “daring greatly” where she quotes Theodore Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

And she went on to make her own version of that quote:

“If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” ~ Brené Brown

For all the entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs reading this. This is for you. Get into the ring, and fight your best fight.

“Thank you to every person who has told me I can’t. You are just another reason I will.” ~ Manny Pacquiao

This post was first published on LinkedIn.

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Image Credit: Christian Alcantara