I was a Manny Pacquiao fan. No, I will spell that out. I was a Manny Pacquiao fanatic. During his rise from 2001 to 2010, I lapped up every article foreign writers wrote about him. I left my wife, who had just given birth to our second child, in the hospital for a few hours to watch a live telecast of the Pacman’s third bout against Mexican Erik Morales in November 2006. I spent the afternoon surfing the night for reactions to Manny’s knockout win.
Pacquiao, now a senator, is fighting Argentinian Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this Sunday for the former’s welterweight belt. Proof that the world noticed would have been the avalanche of stories in both the traditional and social media at this time. The avalanche didn’t come, and among the stories that managed to filter in were those that were not-so-palatable for the Pinoy boxer.
For example, an article by Yahoo’s Kevin Iole had this title: “Manny Pacquiao Still Hasn’t Quit Boxing, But Boxing Has Quit Him.” The Ring’s Nigel Collins was tender in the article, “Manny Pacquiao’s Thrill Factor Has Declined, But He Remains forever Golden.” Both writers agreed that the Filipino boxer’s sun has set.
Iole and Collins know Pacquiao well, having chronicled his rise and reign as boxing’s best fighter pound-for-pound and his capturing world titles in an unprecedented eight divisions. But they are not fanatics and writes what they see. I like how Collins put it, though, so I will quote him extensively.
I am one of those who thought Pacquiao should have quit boxing when he ran for the Senate in 2016 and won. He topped in the number of absences as a congressman before that and I thought doing that in the Senate was already too much. Besides, it was unfair to the fans for him to make boxing his sideline and cash cow. But he is plodding on, and Collins was blunt of his assessment of the act.
“Pacquiao is going to be 40 in his next birthday. The grains of sand in his boxing hourglass are down to a thimbleful. Why then, coming after a loss, is he fighting murderous-punching Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur? He needs money that’s why.” Then came what could be the bluntest point in his article:
“Despite earning hundreds of millions of dollars, Pacquiao’s rickety business and financial empire still depends on his boxing income to stay liquid. Without it, the whole shebang probably would collapse like a nipa hut in a typhoon.”
Pacquiao is on the decline, and proof of that what his loss to Australian Jeff Horn, his claims to having been cheated notwithstanding. And Matthysse is a more dangerous boxer, although probably already past his prime also, according to Collins. The Filipino boxer may be able to summon the old Pacquiao in some fleeting moments but if he could not sustain it he could lose—and lose badly.
My other favorite boxer, the late Muhammad Ali, fought beyond his prime and suffered from Parkinson’s disease in his old age. Pacquiao can be considered relatively healthy despite the mileage. After this, he should already consider hanging up his gloves. And of quitting politics, which has already eaten up a big chunk of his earnings from boxing.
He should focus on his family and spend the rest of his life in his private endeavors, which do not erode the heroic image he built in his prime.