By: Sean Crose
Many of us thought, or at least suspected, that Manny Pacquiao would fade away from prominence after losing to Floyd Mayweather back in 2015. We were wrong. Very wrong. If anyone had said Pacquiao would remain a power player in the sport a full six plus years after the Mayweather fight, we’d have said they were crazy. What proved to be crazy, however, was Pacquiao’s willpower and longevity. The fact that so many were surprised by Pacquiao’s defeat at the gloved hands of Yordenis Ugas on Saturday shows just what kind of staying power the Filipino icon had.
It appears, though, that the end is finally near for the fighter known as PacMan. He may fight again, but he simply didn’t look like his old self last weekend. A lot of that had to do with Ugas, of course, but a lot of it seems to have had to do with Father Time taking his toll. No matter. Pacquiao is, for all intents and purposes, no longer going to be a force in boxing. And that represents a serious sea change. After Pacquiao’s surprise win over Keith Thurman two years back it looked as if the man could fight on indefinitely. Now we know that isn’t the case….that it’s time for the sport, willingly or not, to move fully on to a new era.
And what does this new era look like? Well, at welterweight it looks like one without a major star involved for the first time in over 20 years. Errol Spence is popular, of course, and Terence Crawford intensely respected. Neither man has the popularity of a Pacquiao, however, or a Mayweather, or a De La Hoya. Yet what the division lacks in star power it certainly makes up for in intrigue. With now Ugas right there at the top of the heap with the division’s other big names, fans are left to wonder who will emerge king of the 147. Someone should, sooner rather than later. People will want to see Ugas fight Spence….and Crawford clearly can’t be ignored forever.
And lets not forget about the likes of Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, and the enigmatic Thurman.
The fact of the matter is the era represented by Pacquiao and Mayweather was well on its way out the door before Ugas’ brilliant win this past weekend. Canelo and Anthony Joshua are clearly the biggest stars, with upshots like Teofimo Lopez and Ryan Garcia making their presence felt. When a figure of Pacquiao’s stature slowly begins the process of stepping out of boxing’s spotlight, however, it’s worth taking note. Momentary pause aside, though, boxing fans will surely move onto to the new era aware that other legends will emerge.
At least that’s the hope.
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