Philippine boxing icon, Manny Pacquiao, was stripped of his WBA welterweight crown last January due to his extended ring inactivity. After outpointing Keith Thurman to win the WBA welterweight title last July 2019, Manny has not been seen in the ring since. Still, talks of more fights to come are up in the air. Will he decide to go back to the glitz of the fight arena? Or will this long inactivity signal the end of Manny’s stellar boxing career?
There are many questions that Manny and his boxing circle will need to consider. The main concern, of course, will be his health and his ability to fight competitively against world-class opponents. Is he still up for the rigors of training for a big fight? Does he still have the stamina to mix it up for 12 rounds if need be? Can his body – and more importantly, his mental capacities – still absorb the amount of punishment that goes with a world-class slam-bam bout? Considering he is now 43 years of age, and knowing the tragic history of aging boxers who tried to challenge Father Time; considering the fact that clearly, his skills have been on the wane for the past fights now; and considering his lack of ring activity for almost 2 years; does he still have what it takes to compete in the boxing ring?
But aside from the questions that hover over purely boxing matters, Manny is hounded by issues that go beyond the sport. What makes things more complicated for Manny’s camp are these non-boxing concerns.
Manny’s political circle and his business associates will look at the issue from their respective lenses.
From a business viewpoint, this is simply about getting more moolah while the opportunity is there. Manny has amassed much wealth from all his great fights, and he has been able to invest much of that in more businesses as well as properties in Gensan and elsewhere. But his political career and the perceived magnanimity that must go with it dictates that he stash more cash in preparation for his bigger political bouts to come. And for some members of his stable as well, his extended stay in boxing will matter much to them, as this provides them more leverage to better their own lots.
From the political viewpoint, Manny’s continued boxing success enhances his chances in politics. His successes will keep him in the limelight. His wins will remain a unifying topic for the masses to rally around. A loss, on the other hand, particularly one as devastating as the knockout he suffered from Juan Manuel Marquez, could crash his political dreams as well. It could mean the end of his storied boxing career. And it will mean that his political career will now be solely dependent on his performance on the Senate floor. That said, there is a perception that Manny’s present political credentials – minus his brilliant boxing records – may not be sufficient enough to propel him in his future political campaigns.
From a business viewpoint, those whose businesses or livelihood are dependent on the extension of Manny’s boxing career will most certainly be egging him on. But at 42 years old, Manny is no longer a spring chicken. He knows that he is now way past his best. He, as well as his family and close associates, know that his boxing prowess is slowly but surely deteriorating. And Manny will have to make a decision on this soon.
If Manny were just any ordinary boxer, it would be easy to simply hang up his gloves and retire. While he’s still on top. While he still maintains his mental faculties. While Father Time has not done any real damage. And Manny now has a huge nest egg tucked away to fall back on. His financial future is made. He has businesses that will afford him a jet-setting lifestyle for the rest of his years.
But he is not just another ordinary boxer. He is now a politician, he is a businessman, he is a sportsman, he is a philantrophist, he is all these and more.
Manny has other dreams for the future. These dreams are what stokes his desire to fight on. Not only is it a personal pride to be considered a national sports icon, not only is there a desire to help the less fortunate, it is the need to be visible and relevant still in the eyes of the public. To further enhance his image in the political arena.
Which way will Manny go? Will he retire while he’s on top? Or will he make that gamble and risk his boxing legacy for the dreams he set for himself?
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Cover photo courtesy of The Denver Post. Other pics courtesy of: World Boxing News, the LA Times, Premiere Boxing Champions, CBS Sports, Manila Bulletin, RingTV.com, Kami.com.ph, Twitter and The Boxing Scene.