“He’s knocked down, and he’s out cold! He’s knocked out!” was what commentator Larry Merchant shouted immediately after superstar boxer Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao was sprawled out on the canvas following a devastating right hand blow from Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday.
The loss symbolized perhaps more than Pacquiao’s second consecutive loss; it may also be a sign of things to come.
The fight marked the fourth meeting between Pacquiao and Marquez, but this bout was also a revenge match for Marquez, whom many felt won his previous bout with Pacquiao. The match was intended to be a rebound for Pacquiao after coming off a controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley, who took Pacquiao’s World Boxing Organization welterweight title Sept. 9.
While Pacquiao dominated early rounds by pushing the pace and seemingly landing punches at will, Marquez played a counterpuncher’s style of executing when the moment seemed right.
Marquez’s style showed glimpses of hope throughout the third round as he knocked Pacquiao down late to win the round.
Although Pacquiao would eventually return the knockdown in the fifth round, Marquez would play to his strength with 0:01 remaining in the sixth round and connect once again with a counter, sending Pacman to sleep with a highlight reel knockout.
I believe that final right hand showed that now is the time for Pacman to retire. Although prior to this fight, Pacquiao was ranked fourth on ESPN’s Pound 4 Pound system, his career from this moment forward will most likely consist of chasing rematches and searching for dream fights that the world knows would never happen.
While Pacquiao’s loss to Bradley was controversial, this loss to Marquez marked Pacquiao’s first consecutive losses of his career. While Pacquiao has been knocked out before in his career, this embarrassing loss will haunt Pacquiao.
Pacquiao does have another option. He can fight any rising star with the capabilities to give a great fight. One potential opponent is the so far undefeated Brandon Rios. Rios is coming off his last victory in October and may possess enough qualities to defeat Pacquiao, but remain exciting enough to keep Pacquiao’s name as the second biggest draw within the boxing world.
The only issue with Pacquiao fighting a rising star is that it’s not the fight fans would like to see. Being a boxing fan, I think it’s great to see Pacquiao fight, but as a realist, the fact is that unless the person opposing Pacquiao is Floyd Mayweather, the public will only remain halfway interested.
If Pacquiao suffers another defeat, he would only finalize his retirement. Such a high risk at age 34 seems unnecessary at this point in his career.
The only remaining fight to chase after is Mayweather, which has been the talk of the boxing world for more than five years.
As much as I would love to watch this fight take place, watching Pacquiao suffer back-to-back defeats, the dream fight with Mayweather seems to stray further from public attention. With Mayweather releasing this statement during a local interview, the hopes of a dream fight can look less than slim.
“Pacquiao’s focus should be trying to take a vacation, get his mind right and get a few tune-up fights so he can bounce back,” Mayweather said.
Simply put, Mayweather wants Pacquiao to take one or two tune-up fights before he’ll consider fighting him. That means we could possibly see the two superstars fight around 2013 or 2014. The prospect of seeing a 35-year old Pacquiao trade blows with a 37-year old Mayweather, doesn’t sound like a match I’d pay to watch at home or at a local sports bar.
With a singing career, a position in the 15th Congress of the Philippines and a separate acting career as potential opportunities, walking away from boxing has been talked about for Pacquiao for over a year. Following the devastating knockout, the view of retirement is drawing close. It’s simply up to him to choose.