At the age of 39, eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao squares off against Argentinian Lucas Mathysse, 35, the defending World cha Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight division champion in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia a few days after I penned this piece, and by the time you read this, all of us would have known already the outcome.
It was a fight that almost did not push through because of financial problems supposedly, but finally got settled and the big question now for most Filipinos is whether Manny will finally say goodbye to boxing after the fight.
And I will hazard some guesses depending on what happens in the fight. If he wins, chances are he will believe he is still good for a next fight. If he loses, depends on how it happens, if a close and disputable fight, chances are, he will go for a second fight though I do not know if there is such a clause in the fight contract with Mathysse as Manny definitely does not have the same clout he had during his heydays to dictate terms.
If he loses badly, then he may call it quits for the nth time or will say he will rest for a while and think about the future before making a final decision. For the people around him though, they would like to see him fight some more for what they will earn from the fights, and even for Manny, even as we all know he should be set for life already. The money he can make is still a big attraction for him to don his gloves anew, no matter what.
I have written in the past that as far as I am concerned, Manny has already lost his battle to Father Time and should have quit even earlier. He has done himself and the country proud by what he has achieved in the world of boxing and we may never see what he has accomplished to be eclipsed by another boxer.
He is already a Senator of the land and has not made it a secret that he is even eyeing the presidency in the future, I am reasonably sure that he has set up businesses that will take care of his and his family’s needs in the future, so why is he still fighting?
Believe me, he is not unique in this situation. How many boxers have we seen who refused to call it quits and allowed themselves to get humiliated by younger and stronger, hungrier too, fighters. They continue to believe that they still possess the same skills as before and can still fight it out with the best inside the ring.
Remember the great Flash Elorde ?
The Games & Amusements Board (GAB) had to revoke his boxing license to force him to quit fighting. It was a similar story for the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar de la Hoya and Marco Antonio Barrera, the last two mauled badly by a younger Manny. Actually, there should be a long list of boxers who belong to this group.
Going back to Manny, just watch his fights at his prime when he was beating the best boxers out there. Look at his speed, power, timing, killer’s instinct, footwork, four to six punch combinations, all the things that made the world idolize him. Then watch his last two fights and definitely you will see the big difference, factor in too the fact that younger boxers will not be awed anymore by him just as he refused to be awed by big name boxers at his peak.
And I ask you, how big is the interest for Manny around the world at present?
Yes, he remains popular but it does not mean that it automatically translates into people paying good money to see him fight. There will still be people who will watch him, but the turn away crowd with all the celebrities watching from the ringside, everyone of them dying to meet Manny personally, this is over and done.
Here in the Philippines, yes there will be the diehards but no, the number of people interested to follow every fight and discuss everything about the fight before it happens, the number has gone down. I remember the time that broadsheets will carry up to whole pages devoted solely to Manny’s fights, but I do not see this anymore.
Yes, I will still watch the fight and hope and pray that Manny wins, that is me as a Filipino, but as an objective observer, I reiterate, time has come for Manny to hang up his gloves for good, no matter what happens in Kuala Lumpur.
Now as to my prediction for the winner, if Manny wins I will be pleasantly surprised.