Manny Pacquiao has gotten a lot of advice over the past few weeks. The way that he lost to Juan Manuel Marquez coupled with the indisputable dominance he has displayed over the past decade led many to write off what transpired this past December as a fluke. He was careless, folks insisted. He just got caught by a well-timed punch at the worst possible time, others argued. He will bounce back, everyone agreed.
This is the second consecutive fight after which the boxing community has had to make excuses for the Filipino star. You will recall, following Pacquiao’s loss to Timothy Bradley, all anyone could talk about was the horrendous judging that had been at work. And while the judging was admittedly awful and Pacquiao did in fact get robbed, he was mildly culpable in the end result. He should have finished Bradley. That fight never should have gone the distance.
In Pacquiao’s heyday – it wouldn’t have.
The bevy of tips that have come his way over the past month, from medical professionals and boxing aficionados alike, are all the byproduct of folks believing that he is better than the performance that he put on in the fourth Marquez fight. That he is better than the half-hearted showing he offered against Bradley prior to that.
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Maybe he just isn’t anymore.
On Sunday, the Boxing Writers Association of America gave Nonito Donaire the Sugar Ray Robinson Award. Last year Andre Ward got it. The year before that Sergio Martinez got it.
Pacquiao hasn’t gotten it since 2009.
They always say that it’s difficult for fighters to understand when it’s time to walk away; a lot of times fans have trouble acknowledging when it’s time for their favorite fighters to walk away, too. Pacquiao has been a legend in the sport, an absolute titan for the better part of the last decade. Boxing without him almost seems unfathomable for an entire generation of young fans. He introduced this sport to an audience that otherwise couldn’t have cared less about it, and for that the Sweet Science owes him a lot.
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But it also doesn’t change reality. And the reality is this: Pacquiao hasn’t dominated an opponent since Antonio Margarito. Some of it has to do with guys running away from him for the span of an entire fight (Shane Mosley); some of it has to do with him just not being able to knock folks out (Bradley). Either way, though, the end result is the same.
He hasn’t been the guy folks remember him as for a long time.
As Pacquiao showed in the fourth Marquez fight, even now, despite his obvious decline, he is still at the top of his game. He was winning that Dec. bout prior to the knockout – that’s fact. But he never would have allowed himself to get caught like that five years ago; the way that fight ended was a testament to where and what he is now.
Maybe instead of offering all these tips, words of encouragement and bits of motivation to the Filipino star, it would be best for everyone to come to terms with what’s really what: the Pacquiao of old is gone. If you hold him to unrealistic expectations, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment. And that’s okay. It happens to everyone. Pacquiao is 54-5-2. Father Time is undefeated.