Muhammad Ali was an all-time great boxer who fought (and beat) a number of boxing icons, such as George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Sonny Liston. So when we came across a photograph of Ali and Manny Pacquiao, it seemed, for a moment, plausible that these two boxers once faced off in the ring:
This is not a real photograph. Ali and Pacquiao never faced off in a boxing match.
This image was created by combining two separate photographs of Ali and Pacquiao. The portion of this image featuring Ali (and Referee Carlos Padilla, Jr.) comes from a 1975 photograph during the “Thrilla in Manila.” Ali’s opponent during this match was not Pacquiao, but Joe Frasier.
The portion of this image featuring Pacquiao was taken in 2009 during a match against British boxer Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas. Here’s a look at the original photographs (bottom) and the doctored image (top):
It appears that the edited image was created by Flickr user Mario Duque in 2010. In addition to being one of the earliest postings that we could find, Duque’s Flickr page also contains other manipulated images of fictional Pacquiao fights.
After Ali’s death in 2016, Pacquiao released a statement: “We lost a giant today. Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali’s talents but not nearly as much as mankind benefited from his humanity. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Ali family. May God bless them.”