Following his victory over Timothy Bradley (33-2-1) in the final installment of their trilogy, Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2) confirmed his intention to walk away from the sport and focus on spending time with his family and pursue a political career back in his native Philippines.
The 37-year-old has had an illustrious career and is boxing’s only ever eight-weight world champion, with his titles ranging from flyweight to light middleweight. His elusive footwork, frightening hand speed and ability to catch opponents from awkward angles made him a nightmare in the ring as well as a global sporting icon.
Since that controversial loss to Bradley in their first encounter and the subsequent devastating KO loss in his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao has displayed some impressive performances. His one-sided victories over Brandon Rios (33-3-1), Chris Algieri (21-2) and of course, Timothy Bradley, prove he still has the ability to beat top quality fighters.
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However, in between those fights came a certain ‘Fight of the Century’ against Floyd Mayweather Jr (49-0). Both regarded as the greatest fighters of their generation, their match up had all the ingredients to go down in history for reasons other than the jaw-dropping financial revenue it created.
Sadly, the fight did not play out in favour of Pacquiao. Mayweather’s technical ability shone through, as Pacquiao could not penetrate the ever-perfect defence of Mayweather. A glimmer of hope came in the fourth round as Pacquiao landed a solid straight left which had Mayweather stumbling towards the ropes but the apparent shoulder injury Pacquiao sustained during the build up to the fight quelled any hope and led to some of boxing’s unanswerable list of questions: What if Pacquiao’s shoulder was 100%? What if he managed to capitalise on that straight left?
We live in an era where fighters seem to idolise an undefeated record which leads to the big fights not coming into fruition. It’s rare to achieve both; not everyone is Floyd Mayweather Jr. His ability and impressive record is one of a kind and may never be matched. There are plenty of fighters out there now who are undefeated but hold no relevant wins on their record, so what is the point?
Although the ‘Fight of the Century’ somewhat tarnished Pacquiao’s legacy and history will always regard Mayweather as the best of the era, boxing fans should both applaud and cherish Pacquiao’s phenomenal career. There is no shortage of talented fighters he holds wins over during his career: De La Hoya, Hatton, Barrera and Morales to name a few.
His stand alone record of being the sport's only ever eight-weight world champion epitomises both his talent as well as his hunger to fight the very best. It was this hunger and ability to prove himself to the world that brought him back into the ring following the loss to Mayweather and showcase his skills once more against Bradley.
Which leads to the question, will we ever see him in the ring again?
Unless the unlikely scenario occurs of a rematch between Pacquiao and Mayweather, we may have just seen the last of the Philippine. The truth is, he has nothing left to prove to us and more importantly, to himself. There is no fighter out there that can raise his profile further or even provide him with a pay cheque that would tempt him to lace them up once more.
Yes, the likes of Terence Crawford (28-0) and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (46-1-1) are intriguing contests but for an aging, 66 fight pro like Manny Pacquiao, one must focus on the point: is it worth it? We have seen great fighters in the past prolong their careers well past their prime and eventually come up short, tarnish a record and ultimately get hurt. The likes of Muhammad Ali and more recently Roy Jones Jr come to mind. Pacquiao should use these fighters as examples and motivation to leave the ring whilst on top and refrain from the potential consequences of extending his career.
All in all, it is an upsetting fact that an icon of the past two decades has retired. Few have and will ever go on to accomplish a record such as Pacquiao’s. His stand alone record of being an eight-weight world champion will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to break. His contagious personality and humour, whether that was laughing at the weigh in, training on the mountains with his fans or serving his people -the boxing world will miss him dearly.