It’s been weeks now since Manny Pacquiao delivered another great performance against American Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas, in what he claims is his last fight.
Pacquiao has been campaigning for a seat at the Philippine senate since then, leaving boxing in his rear-view mirror without looking back.
If that was indeed the last time we saw Pacquiao in the ring, then the Filipino ring icon went out in the best way possible.
Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KO’s) is older, slower and not as aggressive as he once was. But his trademark attributes – his speed and power – although only showcased in spurts, was still enough to thoroughly defeat a prime Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KO’s), last April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
All three ringside judges had it 116-110 for Pacquiao when the cards were read, awarding the Filipino a unanimous decision victory.
To his credit, Bradley fought a smart, intelligent fight – perhaps the best fight he could have, given the circumstances. He employed a terrific game plan, keeping Pacquiao at the end of his pinpoint combinations.
With legendary trainer Teddy Atlas in his corner, Bradley certainly had his moments and even hurt Pacquiao in one instance when he had him against the ropes in the 8th round. He attacked when Atlas urged him to from the corner, and danced when instructed.
But it was clear, after 36 rounds of fighting, Pacquiao is simply the more talented fighter.
For a diminished Pacquiao at 37-years of age to perform this well against Bradley, who was arguably at his best, shows the former pound-for-pound king has much left in the tank. But he reiterated in the first couple of days following the fight, that he will push through with plans to retire at the behest of his family.
After 21 years as a professional boxer, Pacquiao has seen it all. But what he hasn’t seen is the relative inactivity that comes with retirement from boxing. His trainer, Hall of Fame coach Freddie Roach believes that once the feeling of complacency sets in for Pacquiao, the ring will beckon and draw him back to the sport.
Roach has said previously before that boxing is one of the hardest sports to walk away from because fighters constantly feel that they are still at the top of their games, and that they still “have it.” Fighters, who have enjoyed stints at the pinnacle of the sport especially Pacquiao who was once considered the best in the world pound-for-pound, are likely drawn back to the sport.
Younger fighters Terence Crawford, Adrien Broner, and Errol Spence Jr. have already called out Pacquiao following wins and the challenges will certainly be great for the 37-year old Filipino veteran. Whether or not Pacquiao will be able to stay away from these challenges remains to be seen.
One driving factor is of course, money. Pacquiao still commands multi-million dollar paydays this late in his career, and that’s definitely a hard thing to walk away from no matter who you are. But another aspect is the pride factor. There is no doubt Pacquiao still believes enough in his abilities to be confident of victory against anyone in his division today, including the aforementioned three.
All it will take is a little goading from the other camp and enough noise, and Pacquiao can be lured out of retirement.
As it is now, only time will tell if Pacquiao will stay away from boxing for good. Do you think Pacquiao will remain retired?
Article by Carlos Cinco
Follow this writer on Twitter: @CarlosCincoFCB