By Michael Mulvey / @mulveyboxing – Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, 39, defeated heavy-handed Argentinian fighter Lucas Matthysse, 35, on July 15, 2018, by way of technical knockout (TKO) in the seventh round of their contest at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.
This victory signalled a comeback for Pacquiao after his controversial unanimous decision defeat to Australian, Jeff Horn last year.
Pac-Man Boxing Career
The professional boxing record of Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao now stands at 69 contests, a total 60 victories, with 39 victories coming inside the 12-round distance by way of knockout.
The fast, aggressive southpaw is the first ever eight-weight World Champion, in a boxing career spanning 23 years since 1995. Pacquiao was named ‘Fighter of the Decade’ for the 2000s by the WBC, WBO and Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is universally recognised as one of the best fighters to ever lace up the gloves and is currently ranked as number four best ‘pound for pound’ fighter of all time in the BoxRec rankings.
But is decline inevitable from now, with the glory days of Pacquiao well and truly in the past?
Fight or Flight?
Since his comeback victory, many people and pugilism fans all over the world have called for what – or who – is next for Pacquiao, with the hope that he is capable of bringing back the dazzling displays of the past against the likes of Britain’s, Ricky ‘Hitman’ Hatton and Puerto Rican, Miguel Cotto.
Whereas others – including some Pacquiao supporters – have urged the Filipino Welterweight to retire. This has called into question the popular debate: is it the end of the line for Pacquiao in his boxing career?
On one hand, the potential showdown against British fighter Amir Khan, 31, has sparked the imagination of many fight fans throughout the world with many calling for the possible match-up to be made. This would be an interesting clash of styles, undoubtedly an abundance of speed which both fighters are renowned for, and perhaps a career-defining fight for either fighter, catapulting the winner to the apex of the Welterweight division and possibly sending the other fighter into forced retirement.
However, Pacquiao now has the choice to end his career on a high and retire having defeated Matthysse. He is 39 years of age and clearly past his prime of when he dismantled elite world-class fighters with his tremendous speed, power and endurance causing numerous knockout victories in his favour. With due respect to Lucas Matthysse, his fighting ability is incomparable to Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya and other pound for pound stars Pacquiao has defeated in the past.
The presumed potential decline of Pacquiao is in stark contrast to the rise of other Welterweight current contenders such as younger undefeated American fighters Errol Spence, 28, and Keith Thurman, 29, both of whom are clearly on the cusp of glittering careers in the world of prizefighting. Such potential opponents are in the prime of their careers and could prove to be seriously dangerous options for the Filipino fighter, especially at the age of 39, despite being financially viable options. Nevertheless, after 69 professional fights, as well as over 60 amateur contests, the amount of punishment affecting his health is high, including a previous heavy knockout defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2008. Does Pacquiao really have anything to prove?
Some argue that his career was slightly overshadowed by the achievements of his former nemesis, Floyd Mayweather Jr. (50 – 0 – 0). Considering Mayweather defeated Pacquiao by a comfortable unanimous decision in the ‘Fight of the Century’ on May 2, 2015, this viewpoint can be understood. Therefore, some people suggest that Pacquiao wishes to continue with his career whilst Mayweather is retired to try and overcome the shadow that arguably casts over him.
Pacquiao believes his career is not finished yet following his impressive victory over Lucas Matthysse:
“I’m still here. You just need to rest and get it back, which is what I did,” [before the Matthysse fight] Pacquiao said.
Nothing to Prove
Pacquiao is the only ever World Champion in eight different weight divisions; a feat that Mayweather never managed to achieve. This is an astonishing accomplishment that Pacquiao will surely be proud of.
Pacquiao derived from absolute poverty in the poor, humble surroundings within the Philippines, with hardly a dollar to his family name. He came from literally nothing, to make it to the very top of the hardest sport known to man. This alone shows absolutely anything is possible with a relentless will to achieve, as he was not defined by his given childhood situation.
Pacquiao now actively gives back to his native homeland, carries out countless acts for charity to give people of the Philippines more opportunities to progress, and has become a politician in the Philippines.
Many fighters often delay retirement for the need of money, as they have no alternative method of income. For Pacquiao, this certainly is not the case; he was the second highest paid athlete in the world in 2015, according to Forbes. So why does Pacquiao need to risk tarnishing his impressive boxing record, his legacy, and, arguably most importantly, his health?
Pac-Man Final Decision
It must be considered that, despite his comeback victory over Lucas Matthysse, Manny Pacquiao is clearly highly unlikely to achieve more than he already has in the sport of boxing. Manny Pacquiao will always be remembered as one of the best pound for pound fighters that has ever lived. Therefore, with all due respect and sincerity, Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao should retire after his final victory over Matthysse, with his head held high as he deserves nothing but ultimate respect.
Manny Pacquiao; the man, the fighter, the politician, the legend.