Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Global 2012: Should Manny Pacquiao Retire?

Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez
Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez (Photo credit: audiovisualjunkie)

It's hard not to talk retirement when you see a fighter face first on the canvas with worried loved ones frantically pushing their way to the ring.

This is true, even for Mr.Everything, Manny Pacquiao, who has made a career of doing the impossible and whose life story is a testament to the idea that, sometimes, the underdog does win.

The Filipino icon managed to pull himself out of one of the poorest slums in the world and, with just his two bare fists and the burning will of a fighter, build an empire of riches that few can even imagine. At thirty-three years of age, Pacquiao has accomplished what few could even dream of doing. And, as a fighter, he has punched his way to all-time great status and a first ballot Hall of Fame entry as one of this generation's very best.

With so much accomplished and so many roads traveled, both literally and figuratively, Saturday's brutal knockout loss to arch-rival, Juan Manuel Marquez, seems like the perfect jumping off point for a stellar seventeen year career.

It's not like Manny will be dead broke without the fight game. Although, surely, the eight-figure paydays twice a year would be missed, the man has his Congressman pay, various TV and movie deals, real estate investments, and the easy work of big-money endorsements. Even without boxing, the Pacquiao empire should be just fine-- Unless, of course, the rumors of him being relatively cash-poor are true.

Professionally, any fighter would be sporting a bruised ego if forced to retire after two consecutive losses. And, in Manny's case, the two losses were especially tough.

Losing a controversial split decision to Timothy Bradley is one thing, but getting knocked unconscious by long-time nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez-- in a bout he was actually winning up until the last punch-- has to be especially vexing for the eight-division world champ.

But looking back on a long and distinguished career, one has to wonder what's left for Pacquiao to accomplish. Perhaps a righting of the wrong via rematch with Bradley and, possibly, another run at Marquez to settle this latest, most crushing of defeats. Then what?

Outside of Bradley and the 39-year-old Marquez, who may be retired by the time Pacquiao gets around to setting up a rematch, there's not much else. The bubble has been burst on the hope of a Mayweather bout and while it's possible to push new generation guys like Brandon Rios in his path, these aren't the guys Pacquiao wants at this stage of his career.

For the record, though, Pacquiao has already told the media that he plans on returning to the sport that made him a national hero and a worldwide celebrity.

"To all my fans, I would like to thank you for your prayers and assure you that I am fine," Pacquiao told the media just hours after his crushing KO 6 defeat at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. "I am looking forward to a nice rest and then I will be back to fight."

The fact of the matter is that Manny Pacquiao should retire. He has nothing more to accomplish in boxing and, as a human being, he has already done more in one lifetime than most can even dream of attempting.

But Manny Pacquiao is a fighter at heart-- A warrior. And warriors rarely retire to a nice, quiet suburban life while red-hot blood is still flowing through their veins. To a warrior, life is about the battle. Unfortunately, this is the reason so many boxers wind up staying in the sport too long, suffering damage that was ultimately unnecessary.

In the case of Manny Pacquiao, it's hard to argue that he should hang up the gloves when he can still beat 95% of the fighters out there. It's understandable that the fire would still burn bright. But, as a father, husband, and trusted politician, maybe it's time to focus on other things.
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