Pacquiao at 39 could not be considered washed out.
At best, what Manny Pacquiao achieved in his seventh-round knockout of Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday is the validation of his senatorial slot even when his turn to seek reelection is still far away. That is if he will not seek the presidency.
Pacquiao need not campaign in the 2022 polls, yet he is assured of keeping his Senate seat on top of the World Boxing Association welterweight crown he snatched away from Matthysse, which he would probably give up or lose by then; and being the only eight-division world champion, a distinction he would probably keep for long. Pacquiao’s camp says the boxing senator will still fight two or three years more.
You may not like him as a politician, but Pacquiao clinched his first try at the Senate with 16,050,546—a number enough to win the Philippine presidency as proved by the 16,601,997 votes that ushered in a Davao City mayor to Malacañang.
Pacquiao won his Senate seat without breaking a sweat. Duterte had the presidency after a controversial run.
Duterte had publicly announced he would like Pacquiao to succeed him. That he was serious with that pronouncement remains to be seen as he said the same for Bongbong Marcos and Alan Cayetano. But who would know?
Pacquiao, however, had the nation enthralled once more following his kayo of Matthysse.
It was his first knockout triumph in nine years. Those years had bred doubters after Pacquiao absorbed four big defeats since he last knocked out Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton in 2009.
Not a few blamed Pacquiao’s change in religious belief for his tamed game since then.
Whether it caused Pacquiao to lose his ring magic, only the boxer could say.
But Pacquiao never went for a KO since then, even when opportunities offered him many.
Then he absorbed back-to-back losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012. His knockout loss to Marquez was the most painful to watch as he fell like timber and face first down the canvas. He was no longer the same Pacquiao, not a few observed.
Then came another painful loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr in 2015 and yet another from Jeff Horn last year.
Pacquiao at 39 could not be considered washed out, however. But his magic that once commanded the highest prize pay in the sport, sent packs into the world’s biggest arenas and magnetized millions of television viewers for fees have all been lost.
Pacquiao’s last fight was a pathetic business venture compared with his glorious runs to the bank in his previous fights.
President Duterte echoed many calls for Pacquiao’s retirement just minutes after his victory over Matthysse.
It could have sounded like the message sent by Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s former trainer—a legendary one at that, only with a different voice and stature the moment he lost to Horn. But the message is the same.
Quit while ahead.
Or quit while there is still something left in the Pacman.
Roach may have cared for his former ward when he said “it (was) time” for Pacquiao.
Pacman did not listen.
He eased Roach out of his team instead.
Pacquiao replaced Roach with long-time friend Buboy Fernandez for his corner. Fernandez delivered by making Pacquiao show up in his winning vintage form.
His camp is not looking for several more Pacquiao fights this year and the next.
But Pacquiao needs to reassess his future.
Perhaps he needs to look at the late Muhammad Ali to be reminded of the possibilities.