LOS ANGELES — Sean Gibbons’s message to a burning question was short and sweet.
“One for the road,” Gibbons said on Thursday.
It was a response to speculations that Manny Pacquiao is not yet ready to turn his back on boxing even after absorbing a stunning 12-round unanimous decision to Cuban counterpuncher Yordenis Ugas of Cuba last 21 August in Las Vegas.
Gibbons feels Pacquiao, 42, still has a lot left in the tank for one grand finale before calling it quits.
But the decision to retire or not “is his to make,” Gibbons stressed.
A few moments after being upset by Ugas in front of 17,400-plus fans at T-Mobile Arena, Pacquiao spoke about a possible retirement although there were times that he hinted about a possible comeback.
Pacquiao’s handlers agree that it wasn’t age nor the over two-year layoff that cost him the fight.
They point to just one thing: Burnout
Instead of just slowing down in the final days before the bout, Pacquiao opted to make a final push by doing the rigorous exercises on the track.
With his legs giving him cramps, a problem dating back to the Erik Morales trilogy 15 years ago, Pacquiao defied the orders of local trainers Buboy Fernandez and Nonoy Neri to apply the brakes so his body could recover from the bruising and banging that had taken place the last six weeks at the Wild Card Boxing Club.
“I could not believe that we lost to a boxer like Ugas,” Neri said, adding that he said the same thing to Pacquiao.
Ugas, the heavy underdog, stood in front of Pacquiao and showed his willingness to trade power blows.
Pacquiao, who turns 43 before the year ends, was noticeably slower and his punches lacked the usual pop.
Even Pacquiao’s timing was off as he missed many times with his money shots and also oftentimes short with his punches.
But they all attribute this to over-training.
Pacquiao, himself, thinks his performance was an aberration and that it didn’t reflect his true worth on that particular night.
Rumor has it that a rematch is in play for 18 December, the day after Pacquiao’s celebration of his 43rd birthday.