I won’t be surprised if Manny Pacquiao decides to go at it one last time.
You see, I spoke to him while he was still in quarantine several days ago.
While he didn’t categorically say that he is returning to the ring, our convo sounded as though Pacquiao will do just that.
Just before I arrived in Manila, reports were rife that Pacquiao, who dropped an eye-popping decision to Yordenis Ugas of Cuba last month in Las Vegas, was starting to sound a bit different.
Moments after the Ugas fight, Pacquiao’s statements pointed towards retirement from the ring.
He talked about his body unable to conform to what the mind had wanted it to do.
“We’re not young anymore,” he said atop the ring at the T-Mobile Arena.
Even Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who has called the shots in the corner the last 20 years, felt the Ugas defeat signaled the end of an era.
“This could be it,” Roach said during the post-fight chat.
As the dust clears, Pacquiao, and even those who initially thought retirement was the best option, have realized that they may have spoken too soon.
Pacquiao himself told this paper that he firmly believes that he wasn’t able to perform to the best of his abilities that night because of leg woes.
“I couldn’t move,” Pacquiao, 42, said.
Pacquiao said cramps, a problem he’s been dealing with the last 15 years, was the culprit.
Though he is not taking anything away from Ugas’ masterful showing, Pacquiao swears the fact that he went 12 full rounds is proof he still has what it takes.
But before I could ask him about his planned ring return being targeted for December or January of 2022, Pacquiao dismissed talks about his next boxing move.
“I am not giving it much thought right now,” he said from his quarantine facility at the Conrad Hotel, stressing that his immediate concern is “public service.”
Two weeks ago, I expressed the belief that the most sensible move is to retire from the sport since he already has nothing to prove.
Even the Ugas defeat doesn’t tarnish his image as an all-time great.
My stand remains the same.
But, at the end of the day, Pacquiao himself will make that call. Not me nor Roach will decide.
Yeah, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to ride into the sunset coming off a loss knowing that you can actually rewrite the script and make a graceful exit.
A couple of names, excluding Ugas’ have been mentioned as possibilities for that farewell fight since the Cuban’s style didn’t complement Pacquiao’s.
I am not an enabler.
But if Pacquiao winds up fighting one last time, I would be right there at ringside.