Will the career of of Manny Pacquiao really end this April? That’s what we’ve been told, that his third fight with Timothy Bradley will be his last. But this is boxing and what we’re told in this sport often isn’t true. Say Pacquiao comes out of his corner this spring looking like a new man. Say he absolutely dominates poor Bradley in a fashion we haven’t seen from Pacquiao in years. Will people roll their eyes at the fact that the man might then decide to keep fighting? Of course not.
While it’s true Manny will continue to pursue a political career in the Philippines, the fact he can still make millions with a single fight instantly erases any certainty one may have of his future. And again, if he looks good come this April, people will be clamoring for more of the guy. Even if he doesn’t get a Floyd rematch, scores of people will happily pay to see him go up against the likes of Bud Crawford and Kell Brook, or even Al Haymon fighters like Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman, should he decide to walk away from Top Rank.
Sure enough, promoter Bob Arum made it clear during a recent press conference that he wasn’t certain whether or not Manny was really going to call it quits. Even Manny himself spoke of his potential retirement with what seemed like less than certainty. Again, this is boxing we’re talking about, a sport where the seemingly insane sometimes just seems par for the course. Why would anyone take a perfectly reasonable retirement declaration as gospel?
If Pacquiao does decide to continue fighting, he will have a choice of two roads to travel: either the one Bernard Hopkins has been following for the last several years, or the one Roy Jones Jr. currently finds himself on. If Pacquiao were to end up going the way of Hopkins, he would be apt to have a second, and even a third act for himself as a professional as he would be an ageless wonder who one could never completely write off.
If, however, Pacquiao were to go the route Roy Jones Jr is currently on, it would be a sad sight indeed. What’s more, it would be a sight that’s all too familiar throughout the history of the fight game. Far too many fighters have gone on way past their primes, only to be humbled and humiliated. To be sure, Jones is only the latest example of this sad phenomenon. Joe Louis, Jack Johnson, and Leon Spinks are merely a few of the more notable pros who have ended up staying in the figurative water for far too long. It would indeed be sad, but not surprising, to see yet another famous boxer go down this road.
The absolute worst case scenario, of course, would be to have Pacquiao show his age in the ring this April and then lose to Bradley before making a final decision on his career. Everyone wants to go out on a high note, after all, and the siren song of glory has led decent men onto some treacherous rocks over the years.
Equally bad would be a scenario where Pacquiao would have to fight for money. Sure, he’s earned a ton over the years but boxers aren’t known for being particularly thrifty, especially when people are always nearby asking for handouts. Most individuals don’t want to come across as miserly, even if they’re not miserly at all. This might be especially true with someone like Pacquiao, a man who has come from extremely humble origins. Besides, political campaigns can be pretty expensive.
Of course, Pacquiao might really, truly, call it a career after the third Bradley fight. Win, lose or draw, he may finally decide once and for all that enough is enough. Good for him if he does. It might be nice to see the man walk away for good on April 9. Aside from some nagging questions about his shoulder during the Mayweather fight, does Pacquiao really have anything left to prove to anyone at this point?
Sure enough, there are many who probably feel Pacquiao should have packed it in already. The glory days of five or six years ago have come and gone, they would undoubtedly argue. What’s more, things can get stale when fighters stay around too long. That’s as true of a brilliant career as it is of a freshly baked cake. Indeed, most fans would probably agree that it would be nice for the sport to move on to a new era at this point.
Pacquiao, however, clearly isn’t going anywhere, at least not until after this third Bradley fight. And even after April 9, only time will truly tell what the man has decided. Such is the sport of boxing. — Sean Crose