(Featured Photo Credit: Eric Jamison/AP)
I am very well aware of the words that I am typing will garner attention amongst my countrymen and family as being blasphemous and outrageous but I think we cannot ignore the signs. He is a hero in the Philippines, the fighting Congressman of the Sarangani Province. He is the cultural icon that has wonderfully represented the motherland and he is the poster boy of graciousness and humility. But as a fan and admirer of the Pac-Man, I think it’s time to face the facts that are in front of us: Manny Pacquiao should retire and begin the next phase of his life as congressman and full-time ambassador.
The above image is only one of the reasons why I think Manny needs to reassess his boxing career. Despite being only 33 years old, Manny Pacquiao has already fought in 61 professional bouts. He has been fighting constantly for the better part of two decades and the last few years, the results are starting to show his age. He has become more showman and entertainer than boxer. His last few fights never really challenged him like Marquez always does. Joshua Clottey was buried in his defensive shell, Mosley never bothered to engage Manny, Bradley gave up on the fight halfway through (and won despite the sheer absurdity of the result), and Margarito’s face was rearranged by Pacquiao’s swift justice. All of them were carried in their fights by Manny because he wanted to deliver a “good fight”. I think Manny had gotten obsessed with the idea of entertainment and people getting their moneys worth. He could’ve easily taken them down earlier, like the Hatton bout, but felt compelled to give a good fight for the audience and the several million viewers watching pay-per-view. With Bradley, he had shown his complacency and whether you believe the outside vices or influences had taken its toll on him, I think he became more entertainer than boxer at the moment and let up in the final few rounds. After that controversial loss, he wanted to prove to the world that he was still the great Manny Pacquiao and preached his rededication to knock the snot out of Marquez to settle the argument on who was the better fighter in their rivalry. However, all it took was the overconfidence and his idea of just flipping a switch for him to walk into the right hand of Marquez.
Don’t get me wrong, Marquez won the fight fair and square with his intelligence and new found power and strategy. He knew Pacquiao was going to try for the kill after his face collected blood and welts from the vicious lefts Manny was dealing and used that aggressiveness to his advantage to put down Manny twice Saturday evening. Marquez is a brilliant counter-puncher and deserves every bit of recognition for his game plan to win this fight. I also feel that Manny does not have that same focus required to score wins in his boxing matches. Manny’s aggressiveness is both his biggest weapon and his biggest weakness. He’ll win the first half the bout as he racks up punches but he seems to get bored and obsessed with keeping the fight going and rests on his earlier body of work than finishing the job in the end. Maybe it’s just more than fighting style at this point. Yes, you can count on punches landing and hitting but age takes its toll on a man’s speed and power and they have been lacking recently for the pound-for-pound king. While he can still dish it out with some of the best in boxing, I doubt that he can keep this up any longer because let’s face it, he has nothing really to prove at this point. He did admit to his overconfidence after the fight but that does little to quell the critics in their assessment of his eroding skills and seemingly apathetic approach in the ring. Plus, forget about the super-fight with Floyd Mayweather. Floyd has ZERO reason to fight him and probably never will. Floyd would have nothing to gain from defeating someone on the downturn of their career. Yes, three years ago it would’ve been the fight of the century but now its only mention reeks of greed, ego and missed opportunities.
We also can’t forgot about the other job he carries: Congressman of the people of his province in the Philippines. He wants to do what is best for his fellow countrymen and knowing how deep the poverty runs in the Philippines and how corruption has dominated the Philippine political system, he has made his true passion his political career. It has taken over his boxing career and it’s good that he still goes back to the well on what he does best in the boxing ring but everyone around him knows that he does not want to be just a boxer anymore. His goals as Congressman include getting free education and healthcare to his constituents and he wants back up his words. That involves taking time away from the ring training and working towards his goals as a man of the people. Everyone knows that his heart is more into his country than boxing at the moment. Maybe this is the sign he needs to pursue his new passion in life and redefine why he is the champion to his fellow Filipinos.
Manny Pacquiao has done wonders for the world of boxing and he will go down as the top pound-for-pound champion of the world. No one should deny him the glory of his legacy as he departs into the next phase of his life. Despite his recent losses, there is no reason to hang his head nor should he deliver any excuses because father time has caught up to him. I think a Manny Pacquiao that chases his dream of serving his agenda of a better Philippines will have more impact on himself and everyone that follows him than a fading sports star brimming with overconfidence and too much ego to walk away from the sport that made him who he was. Too many times we have seen boxers struggle and fail to walk away because it becomes their obsession to recapture their dominance in the past. That goes for any sports star for that matter because their biggest competition is always themselves. They fight their own physical and mental deterioration to where they just embarrass themselves because they could not let go of past glory and hang around too long. I want the Manny Pacquiao legacy to live on without any more blemishes because his heart is just not fully in it anymore and he needs to move on.
Do I want Manny to go away? Absolutely not. I enjoy watching him as a fighter and entertainer. I feel proud as a fellow Filipino to see him fight and watching him conquer the boxing world over the last decade added so much to my pride in my second home of the Philippines. However, you can tell his life has changed for a new purpose. He has rededicated himself to God and his faith and eliminated his old vices and bad habits of his life. His wife and family suffered during his career with him letting fame and his meteoric rise guide his way to bad decisions. He has moved past that and reconnected and found his new calling. When Manny Pacquiao does wave goodbye to the world of boxing, the world he has bled and gave all his energy to for the majority of his life, it will be a celebration and everyone won’t think less of him for it for walking away. When he takes off the gloves for the final time and steps into Congress and out into the streets of his province to work towards his new goal and affect change, he will know that boxing will not be the only label to his legacy. What defines him will be the love for his people and the new redefinition and evolution of his role: the true people’s champion.