Manny, Maybe You Should Just Pac It In Once and For All
By: Oz Ozkaya
Having recently announced that he would be making a U-turn on his promised retirement for a fight against American WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas on the 5th November, Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao (58–6–2) and his team have decided that the retirement route isn’t the most appropriate choice right now. But, doesn’t that make you want to ask the question: “Why on earth would you be wanting to continue, Manny?” He is 37 years old, his head has probably taken an unthinkable amount blows down the years, he promised his family that the Timothy Bradley fight would be the last, he has commitments as a “busy” Filipino senator and most importantly – finally, he has now undoubtedly made his money in the sport… I.e let’s consider the $100m+ for the Mayweather fight last year, a fight where he evidently took no shame in ripping off all his die hard fans after he went on to claim that he lost the fight due to a shoulder injury. That fight should never have taken place; you’ve disgraced the sport, Manny, and you’ve also ridiculed your loyal hard working fans in the process.
Don’t get me wrong, though, once upon a time this man did go on to achieve some supremely remarkable things in the squared circle. For example, The IBF Super Bantamweight clash with Lehlo Ladwaba at the MGM in 2001 would be Pacquiao’s first world title opportunity and an opportunity that was taken at just two weeks notice. Fearless was the young Manny Pacquiao. In the fight itself, Pacquiao – as they say in Ireland – would go on to “completely box the head off his opponent” for 6 rounds entirely and Ladwaba would then resultingly be dropped twice. After the second fall, the ref would then crucially stop the fight as he could see that Ladwaba would be unable to continue due to the damage inflicted. The odds were defied on the night; Pacquiao all of a sudden was a world champion.
Furthermore, and sticking to the achievement front, there was a very memorable victory at lightweight over the extremely well-regarded David Diaz. On this occasion, the Pac-Man would prove surgical in his precision punching on Diaz, and with the opponent left startled due to the Pac-Man’s aggression, the fight would ultimately end with a 9th round TKO. Pacquiao’s impressive showing against hall of fame, and umpteen-time world champion, Oscar De La Hoya, would later follow this. De La Hoya would actually drop down to welterweight to meet Pacquiao, a decision that proved vital to his on-the-night brazen performance. The weight loss of the normally Middleweight De La Hoya would tip in Pacquiao’s favour as he proved far too quick and strong for the much lighter De La Hoya. Oscar’s corner in the fight decided to retire him at the end of the 8th _ Pacquiao’s class decimation job also completed here.
His most stunning victories, arguably, over Ricky Hatton (2nd round KO) and Miguel Cotto (12th round TKO) in 2009 were the fights that would propel Pacquiao to global fame and world notoriety. At this point in his career, everything seemed to be going his way. Humble champion, nerves of steel, classy fighter. He had won and conquered at many different weight divisions and he had shown the world audience, and his peers, just how versatile and gifted a fighter he had become.
The only marks on his card at that point would have been losses to fellow Filipino novice Rustico Torrecampo (a 3rd KO would you believe) in 1996, a 3rd round TKO loss to Thai fighter Medgoen Singsurat in 1999 and he also had a unanimous decision loss to Mexican brute Eric Morales in 2005 – Pacquiao would avenge those losses twice the following year in stunning knockout fashion. Yeah, I read into the first loss, watched the fight on Youtube (link above) and it’s actually baffling, no, maybe more so astounding to see such a kind of downtrodden, tepid, timid and much younger version of Pacquiao.
What seems to grind my gears the most about the Pac-Man today is why he feels the need to continue in the beautiful sport of boxing? Surely it is now time to give the other – younger – fighters the opportunity to progress through the game/rankings and take on the world champions, just like he did 15 years previously. You can’t blame Vargas for the decision to fight Pacquiao, he’s guaranteed the biggest payday of his career and is also probably rubbing his hands with excitement at the realisation and visualisation of what a victory over Manny could do for his legacy in the sport of boxing. It’s the Pacquiao vs De La Hoya scenario all over again, especially if you look at it as the young champion vs the old champion.
Please, though, do remember this, I’ll be there to watch the fight and if Pacquiao does somehow manage to beat Vargas then I’ll be sure to eat my humble pie and tip my hat to the Pac-Man on here for all of you to see. However, the guy’s days in the sport are numbered because his interests are mainly within the Philippines political spectrum, and he must now surely be ready to make that jump wholeheartedly and not just leave one foot in the past thinking he can keep calling out world champions – who will always be ready to give him a showdown – just for the sake of the monumental sums of money. Take note, Manny, if you’re going to mimic a career change like Vitali Klitschko, do it properly and make sure you so do it concordantly because, in my expert opinion, you simply cannot give all your time to both and be the best in both worlds. Nobody can.