Most folks in boxing view Manny Pacquiao as a very intelligent, extremely reasonable person. He rarely spouts off in a derogatory manner regarding other fighters. He isn’t overly-emotional. He doesn’t make rash judgments. That is how, by and large, he is seen by fans and media who have followed his career for over a decade.
And that is precisely why his recent decision to overreact to what may or may not have been an overreaction is all the more puzzling.
Late last week, Dr. Rustico Jimenez -- the President of Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines -- made headlines when he suggested that Pacquiao might be showing early signs of Parkinson’s disease. He was scarce on details, simply citing the champion’s twitching tendencies as proof, but the message came across loud and clear.
Pacquiao needs to start prioritizing his health above his career.
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Mind you, this isn’t an earth-shattering revelation. Pacquiao’s own wife, Jinkiee, has been on a media crusade ever since the Juan Manuel Marquez fight insisting that her husband should retire. She hasn’t privately been nudging him in that direction; Jinkee has literally been telling every reporter that would listen that she wants Manny to hang up his gloves.
Naturally, Dr. Jimenez’s assessment drew the ire of just about everyone. Fans instantly recoiled, noting that a physician who hadn’t personally examined Pacquiao has no place making public statements. Heck, Pacquiao’s advisor, Michael Koncz, even threatened legal action.
“What is the name of this alleged well known doctor as we are contemplating a civil suit for merit-less and unfounded accusations?” Koncz was as quoted by PhilBoxing as saying.
The Filipino champion, for his part, said this to Boxing Scene (via the Manila Bulletin):
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“There is nothing to be worried about. I am 100 percent healthy and right now I’m enjoying this memorable vacation with my family in this beautiful country of Israel,” he insisted.
“I will return to the Philippines on January 14 and in early February I want to get to the gym because I want to have a fight in April and in September I want the fifth fight with Marquez
“The statements by the doctors show a total lack of ethics and it was irresponsible [for them to say this]. This was just personal opinion and there were no medical tests.”
At the end of the day, reasonable people can agree that a public diagnosis probably isn’t the best course of action – no matter how well meaning it is/was. That being said, the substance of the comments should not be disregarded.
Fighters are notorious for wanting to fight no matter what; too many boxers have refused to retire when their time came, instead choosing to absorb more punishment and doing permanent damage to their reputations for nothing more than foolish pride. If you think Dr. Jimenez is wrong – so be it. But don’t let that cloud your judgment as it pertains to what he actually said. For God's sake, the last time we saw Pacquiao he was laying face first on the canvas.
If Pacquiao doesn’t want to take the doctor’s advice to heart then so be it. But he shouldn’t shoot the messenger for delivering a message that he needed to hear.