HERE we are once again. A closely contested fight, rabid screams of robbery, an increasingly familiar scene for boxing fans recently … groundhog day for Filipino icon Manny Pacquaio.
You could be excused for being somewhat confused this weekend. The social media uproar following a fight that many thought Manny won handily gave me, and no doubt Pacman himself have flashbacks to his “defeat” to Timothy Bradley. I preface this article by saying I have yet to re-watch the fight from a scoring standpoint, I have watched it purely for entertainment. What I can say straight off is, watching the fight I was thinking to myself “this fight is very close and extremely hard to score”. The fact I felt this way signifies to me the robbery talk may be an overreaction. This is similar to my feelings in the previous Ward-Kovalev article. What we had was a closely contested fight, so why so many calls for Pacman’s retirement?
Ordinarily a boxer would not lose stock suffering a defeat like Manny Pacquaio. He travelled to the hometown of an undefeated opponent and lost a highly controversial close decision. That takes guts, it takes confidence, it takes balls! Normally a fighter would be lauded in this situation, so why not Pacquaio? The problem for Manny is that this opponent (Jeff Horn) was majorly unheralded and seen by most as a “cherry pick”. Boxing fans called for huge showdowns with the likes of Keith Thurman, Kell Brook, Danny Garcia and Terence Crawford and instead they were given Jeff Horn in Australia. Safe to say the public were gravely underwhelmed, the only saving grace was the fact that the fight would be on free TV, thus still drawing a huge audience and keeping hopes of mega fights alive. All Manny had to do was get past Horn…
The fact this fight was so close has seen the rise of retirement calls for Pacquiao. Pacquiao is a living legend who has been one of the sports elite competitors for over a decade. This is a man who has a roll call of Hall of Famers on his resume, a man who, dare I say it, would have steam rolled Horn a few years ago. There is no doubt in my mind that Manny has slowed down and is now on the descent of a legendary career but he is far from shot. Calls for his retirement feel like a snap shot reaction. I feel Manny still has enough physical ability to continue competing at a high level IF he still has the motivation and desire.
Pacquiao has had a fairytale career and life outside of boxing. Rising from poverty he is now a senator in his native country. Much has been made about the sheer time and commitment this role now takes from him. His desire to continue fighting at the level he has achieved has been called into question. Manny may have to seriously consider whether he still wants to be Manny Pacquiao the fighter or transition into Manny Pacquiao the politician, to have his foot on both sides of the line at this point seems too much.
To me, this weekend proved that Pacquiao’s global star power and influence are on a much sharper decline than his physical ability. This to me may be the most important factor in whether Manny decides to continue fighting or not. I feel he would not want to become a name used to build up and coming fighters, which is a possibility. Despite competing in his rival’s hometown, it was unthinkable beforehand that Pacquiao wouldn’t have received the judges favour. Ultimately I feel a combination of Pacquiao being a huge favourite, the backlash for the perceived “cherry pick” and the underdog Horn doing better than anticipated sealed Pacquiao’s fate.
There are rumours of a rematch clause being in place, so hold fire on those retirement calls. The Pacquiao phoenix may still rise from the Australian ashes.