Three options for Manny Pacquiao at this point in his career

Boxing’s only eight-division world champion and Filipino ring icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is pencilled in to fight once more on November 5 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada but some fans aren’t happy with the idea that Pacquiao, now 37 years old and with a full-time job at the Philippine senate, is choosing to continue his career as a professional boxer.

Some feel he’s way past his prime, and rightfully so, Pacquiao isn’t the same fighter he once was. He’s noticeably slower, doesn’t throw as many punches and hasn’t stopped an opponent in years. Others feel Pacquiao’s performance against Timothy Bradley last April is enough to show them that he can still compete at boxing’s highest level.

But what is the best course of action for Pacquiao, who by next January will have been a pro boxer for 22 years? Like all fighters who have retired, Pacquiao is feeling the itch, the one that nags and begs a fighter to get back into the ring.

Here are 3 options for Manny Pacquiao moving forward.

Stay retired

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Pacquiao is 37 and has been in countless ring wars. He’s not exactly a fighter who has mastered the art of hit and not get hit, as the sweet science suggests. He’s an action star through and through, willing to take the hits in order to be able to deliver his own, and it’s worked out tremendously well for him.

But the problem with pro boxers is that they don’t know when to call it a day, and most of them fight well on passed their primes into dangerous territory where they can seriously get hurt.

Pacquiao trashed a prime Bradley just a few months ago, and that’s certainly an achievement. He has the rare opportunity to leave the sport on top, still considered one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound and with an outstanding victory.

Plus, Pacquiao is a full-time politician now in his native Philippines, where he is a member of the Philippine senate. Despite numerous achievements in the sport, it’s safe to say that the majority of Filipinos prefer Pacquiao to stay retired and just ride off into the sunset. They want him to focus more on his obligations to the country.

Honestly, staying retired is probably the best course of action for Pacquiao, but things aren’t looking like they’ll go this way.

Go the way of faded legends

during a workout session at XXXXX on November 20, 2014 in Macau, Macau.

Fighters competing way passed their prime is commonplace in the sport of boxing. James Toney, Roy Jones Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Oscar Dela Hoya — this is just a short list of names of fighters who just didn’t know when to quit and are great examples of this trend.

Late into their careers they fought B-level fighters, no-namers and hopefuls without much potential, all in favor of earning the almighty dollar the easy way, with no risk of getting hurt. The problem with this approach is that it ultimately hurts the sport of boxing.

Imagine Pacquiao booking a fight against a low class opponent, and Bob Arum in his infinite promoting wisdom is able to sell it as a compelling, even fight like he always does. Gullible fans will save up their hard-earned money to witness a farce, that’s what will happen.

Instead of saving their cash to witness rising stars like Terence Crawford, or Keith Thurman, or even Jesse Vargas try to save the sport, they’ll be watching Pacquiao dominate an easy foe with no impact to the sport whatsoever.

It’s a great financial move for Pacquiao but doesn’t do much for his career legacy-wise, and runs virtually no risk. In the end however, the real losers are the fans who paid for such travesties and the sport that brought Pacquiao from selling cigarettes on the streets of Manila to once being considered the best fighter on the planet.

Fight the fights worth fighting

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The final option for Pacquiao seems to be the most noble of all, assuming he continues on with his career.

Boxing is in such a terrible spot because rarely do the best ever fight the best. Far too many fighters are having their records padded with meaningless fights to balloon their credentials, making it seem like they are better than they actually are.

It’s the reason why mixed martial arts has gained a lot of steam lately and why boxing is constantly on the backburner.

Pacquiao has two potential opponents as front-runners for his November 5 date — Terence Crawford and Jessie Vargas.

Vargas is the reigning WBO world welterweight champion, defeating Sadam Ali last March by impressive TKO while Crawford just finished with a complete shutout of previously undefeated Viktor Postol to unify the WBC and WBO super lightweight titles.

Of the two, Crawford is the bigger challenge. Pacquiao facing Crawford is a tremendous matchup, one that is great for the sport regardless of who wins.

If Pacquiao wins, he overcomes an incredibly steep challenge late in his career, adding to his legacy and his long list of achievements.

If Pacquiao were to lose, it would signify a passing of the torch of sorts, with Crawford emerging as perhaps the sport’s biggest star in the post-Pacquiao and Mayweather era. Pacquiao would retire shortly after, and seemingly for good while Crawford will have been witnessed by millions of fans the world over, earning the exposure a young talent like him needs to be successful.

Either way, it should be a great fight, entertaining at the very least and worth every penny.

It would also certainly scratch that ‘itch’ Pacquiao just can’t seem to shake off. –By Carlos Miguel Cinco

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