Over the past few months, Juan Manuel Marquez has absorbed the brunt of the criticism for a fifth match between him and Manny Pacquiao not yet being agreed to. Part of that criticism is justified. After all, he is the one who claimed that there is no reason for him to offer his rival a rematch, despite the fact that there are plenty of reasons (both financial and legacy-based) to do so. And while it goes without saying that the 39-year-old was just taking that stand to gain leverage in negotiations, it’s understandable if some fans don’t read it that way.
All of that being said, Pacquiao probably deserves a little blame here as well. Through the years, the Filipino star has become increasingly detached from his boxing career. Between his business deals and political ambitions, Pacquiao has essentially left all matters pertaining to the sport that made him famous in the first place on the backburner. His unimpressive in-ring performances over the past 24 months can be partially attributed to that, and his inability to come to terms with Marquez on a fifth fight is similarly impacted by it.
During a recent interview with Phil Star, Pacquiao said this regarding where his focus was right now: “I’m very busy right now. Wala sa isip ko ang boxing.”
He added: “You can ask me after elections. Right now, there’s nothing. We haven’t even talked about anything regarding boxing.”
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And when will they talk about it?
“After the elections we can talk about boxing. Maybe in June,” he said.
Look, Pacquiao is a busy guy – everyone understands that. However, it’s becoming a bit troubling that he is playing this one-foot-in, one-foot-out game. Boxing isn’t a sport where you can pull that kind of nonsense. If you want to come in and train half-heartedly while focusing on other ventures, more often than not, you’ll end up face first on the mat.
It’s time for Pacquiao to make up his mind: Either he wants to fight or he wants to do other things. Both options are fine. But whichever he decides, he should dedicate himself to that fully.