With the loss to unanimous decision loss to Jeff Horn, Manny Pacquiao has officially joined that list of athletes who hung around too long that their folly tarnishes their career.
No one will dispute that Pacquiao will be one of boxing’s greatest fighters even with an overall record of 59-7-2, with four of those losses coming in the last six years. However, he went from being in the discussion as the all-time best to now merely being one of the best.
The signs of slippage were there—the inability to put foes away was the most obvious. In his last 14 fights stretching all the way back to the 12th round Technical Knockout of Miguel Cotto in 2009, only one did not go the distance and that was the sixth-round loss to Marquez in 2012. Prior to that, in his first 56 fights, he only went the distance six times!. He finished off almost every challenger who faced him before that.
Sure, he wielded some awesome punching power in these last 14 bouts, but he couldn’t send them to La La Land. Furthermore, there was that upset loss to Timothy Bradley that was followed by a sensational knockout by Juan Manuel Marquez. And there was the unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. Whether some of those losses were controversial or not, the “L” is on record. Conversely, some of the decisions that have gone his way could have also gone otherwise (Marquez has something to say about this). So, it’s quits on this point.
Looking around, sports history is replete with athletes who didn’t know when to hang up their sneakers or in Manny’s case, their gloves. There’s a sports term for that—“Willie Mays falling in the outfield” that refers to the ageing baseball star losing the ball in the outfield…twice as he stumbled around. As for boxers who didn’t throw in the towel, there’s Roy Jones Jr., Marco Antonio Barrera, Hector Camacho, Sugar Shane Mosley, to name a few.
Ditching my objectivity for now, watching Manny climb to the summit of the sports world was every bit exhilarating and fun. The Philippines has always had its boxing world champions, but no one came close to the caliber, achievements and charisma of Pacman. He is the country’s first true global superstar. He gave honor to the country and everyone from this archipelago stood a little taller with their heads held up high.
If you spoke to someone who didn’t know much about the Philippines, the starting talking point would be—you guessed it “Pacquiao” and I experienced that while working and living in the US. Among my Mexican friends, they expressed great respect for Manny who knocked out or defeated many of their champions. It was a point to ponder, chat or even bond.
As the knockouts lessened (although, he still would put the hurt on many of his foes), it became a cause for concern. Here’s that vanity part where I am sure a great many other Filipinos and his fans outside myself wanted him to retire. While he had yet to taste a loss since the Erik Morales Trilogy. While he was on top of the world and a winner. And certainly, not before he got old.
Four losses in the last several years later. There’s pain in my heart. It’s how I felt after watching Michael Jordan come back with the Washington Wizards. While MJ was still good, he wasn’t in His Airness state). And he didn’t reach his goal of leading the team to the play-offs that would have been like a championship in itself. Even worse, his team cut him in a most unceremonious fashion.
I can understand Manny’s wanting to fight “one more time”. The problem is when to know that the itch has been scratched. There’s always another fight to get ready for. One more foe to conquer; one more milestone to reach.
Yet now, after the loss to Jeff Horn, hopefully, he will earnestly consider retirement. He has other responsibilities that need attending (his job at the Philippine Senate for one). But knowing Manny, he’ll give it one more try to go out a winner.
We love and care for him that is why we’re distressed and conscious of his legacy. This loss isn’t only his but for every Filipino and fan who has rooted for him.
This loss will leave me shaking my head for about a week. Maybe more.
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