I am referring to his upcoming fight on July 15 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia against WBA welterweight champion Argentinian Lucas Matthysse, Manny’s first fight after losing to Australian Jef Horn in Brisbane late in 2017. This, after retiring then un-retiring a few times in the past.
Way past his prime at 39 turning 40 this year, Manny should stop fighting, period.
But will he?
Backtracking a little, Manny turned professional in 1995, that is 23 years ago and in a brutal sport like boxing, 23 years is a long, long time. His record right now of 59 wins, seven losses and two draws, speak for the fact that he has fought actively and pitted his skills against the best of the bests, though not all of them were at their best already when they went up against Manny, and maybe regretted it.
If there is one opponent that boxers or any other athlete will never beat, it is Father Time who spares no one, and I just believe time has come for Manny to hang up his gloves and just focus on being a politician where in this country, age does not matter. And if in boxing, he reached the highest level of skills that fighters can dream of, in politics, he has to learn a lot more.
It was his fight against IBF super bantam weight champion Lehiohonoio Ledwaba in 2001 that he caught the attention of the world as he surprised the champion who was expecting an easy fight against an unknown replacement fighter who only knew he would fight with two weeks ‘ time before the fight. From thereon, it was a spectacular string of successful fights against the best for Manny, earning him not only millions of dollars but the adulation of the world, including better-known celebrities who paid homage to this little guy from GenSan.
He fought Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003 and shocked Barrera though the latter was already past his prime but still a very dangerous fighter. Unbelieving the first fight result, Barrera fought Manny in a rematch and lost anew. Then came those magnificent fights of Manny versus the likes of Juan manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Oscar de la Hoya, who made the mistake of coming back to the ring against Manny, Ricky Hatton, who never recovered from his knockout loss to Manny afterwards, then Antonio Margarito, aging Shane Mosley, Timothy Bradley and finally the much-awaited fight against the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Unfortunately the super fight failed to meet expectations. Floyd wanted to retire undefeated, Manny wanted to fight, but Floyd was too defensive. I do not blame him for that. Manny lost by decision. It would have been much better had both fought each other a few years earlier at their very peak and not when they had started losing some of their skills due to age.
As I said, Manny has retired several times already in the past, but the lure of the ring is still too much to resist, and of course the kind of money that he cannot earn in any other way as he has already tasted the lifestyle of the rich and the famous, and more, all the people who would always be out there asking money from him, that he has admitted in the past as one of the reasons why he continues to fight.
I am fond of watching Manny’s past fights on a 49” inch TV at home but I only watch those fights where he was at his best, with his dazzling hand speed, four to six-punch combinations, the perfect timing, and that killer’s instinct when to go for the jugular, all of which have diminished as he aged. He has nothing to prove anymore as the only fighter to win eight different divisions, has been acclaimed as the Fighter of the Decade by boxing authorities and has become a model for a lot of people worldwide with a popularity that is hard to match.
You see, what I do not want to see is other younger boxers, not awed anymore by what they see in the Manny of the present, doing to Manny what he has done to the likes of Barrera, De la Hoya and Mosley, who all did not know when to call it quits in their careers. Oh yes, Manny can still fight, but not on the same level anymore in the past, whether he admits it or not.
I do not want to see a repeat of what happened to Flash Elorde who had to be stripped of his license just to make him stop fighting, or Muhammad Ali, or Sugar Ray Leonard, watch their last fights when they were but a shadow of themselves but refusing to believe it.
I hope Manny finally realizes the reality of the present and not live in the past and that his fight against Matthysse really be his last. It is also unfortunate that he has severed ties with Freddie Roach who brought him up to that unprecedented level. I think Freddie does not want to see Manny fight anymore but Manny does not agree, so the parting of ways.
Just the same, I wish Manny good luck in his next fight.