Manny Pacquiao garnered quite a lot of attention when he released a studio single version of "Sometimes When We Touch" earlier this year, stemming from original songwriter and performer Dan Hill seeing the Filipino superstar sing the song live on Jimmy Kimmel's show in 2009.
It was laughed at by most as a lousy version of a lousy song, but there was a sincerity that Hill himself often noted as the reason he wanted to have Pacquiao record an official version. Manny wasn't joking, he just wasn't, you know, good in the traditional sense.
But Manny Pacquiao is far from the first major star boxer to ever record music. As you can see above, Muhammad Ali had an entire album when he was known as Cassius Clay, and many other star fighters over the years have stepped behind the microphone, to shall we say, varied results.
After the jump, we look at some of the best offerings.
Manny Pacquiao, "Sometimes When We Touch (feat. Dan Hill)"
Might as well start here. It was just yesterday that this song hit me as something kind of...beautiful. The honesty of Pacquiao croaking this thing out with 100% seriousness is, well, too much. This is a really terrible song, the sort of hit that is chuckled over once its run of inexplicable popularity has ended. But there's not an ounce of parody in the way Pacquiao performs with such a sappy, melodramatic ballad. He believes in the song. That's how songs like these become hits in the first place.
Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), "Stand By Me"
Yeah, seriously. That "Stand By Me." The iconic and beloved Ben E. King tune. Really quite similar to the Pacquiao song, but with less polished studio players and production, and with, you know, a song that is roughly 500 times better. Ali wasn't much of a singer, but he sounds like he loves this song. Of course it was 1963 when this was released. Who didn't love this song? Commies, maybe.
Joe Frazier, "If You Go, Stay Gone"
Joe also did a weird semi re-write of "My Way" that was about fighting (Bernard Hopkins ain't the first Philly fighter to do that), but this is just a pretty damn good tune. I genuinely like this. Production is outstanding, Joe isn't exactly Howard Tate on the vocals but he's steady, and he's got soul.
Sir Henry Cooper, "Knock Me Down With a Feather"
I really like the fade-out on this song, and I really like the chorus. Henry's vocals are pretty horrible, but there's kitsch value here, and not just because it's a boxer singing. That little "ah-woooo" thing the backup vocalists do kind of seals it. It's got a genuinely weird spirit, in a very fun way. The others above were kind of serious, or really serious. Sir Henry is having a ball, and it shows. This song wouldn't be totally out of place in one of those post-Tarantino crime thriller/comedies that I love.
Lionel Rose, "I Thank You"
The late Lionel Rose was a star Aussie and at one time the bantamweight champion of the world. This song was a hit on the Australian charts in 1969, and since I assume some of you are all, "Urgh country," but I'm not (my all-time favorite artist is Waylon Jennings), I'll be the one to say it: This song has real value. For '69 country, this is working off of Gram Parsons' cosmic country template; I imagine this is what Keith Richards might have sounded like in 1969 had he done a solo country album. I really, really like this song -- it's the real deal.
And now that we got those five out of the way...
Oscar De La Hoya, "Run to Me"