Manny Pacquiao finds himself in an interesting position right now. At 34 years old and with a very bright political future ahead of him, he doesn’t need boxing. If he retired tomorrow, the former champ could live a very fulfilling life and not regret anything.
That being said, Pacquiao doesn’t want to be forced out of the sport. He wants to go out on his terms, not because fans and various business associates are urging him to do so. Coming off the first two-fight losing streak of his career, the Filipino icon wants to prove that he still has it over his next one to three bouts, and then he’ll hang up his gloves for good. When he's ready to do it.
In the direct aftermath of Pacquiao's December 2012 defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez, it was clear to anyone and everyone who followed these two men’s careers that a rematch was inevitable. From both a financial and pride standpoint, there was no way they wouldn’t agree to it. Surely enough, after some initial negotiating bluster, both more or less put together a rough plan for how to make their fifth showdown a reality. Now it’s on Bob Arum to work out the specifics.
Meanwhile, as the business guys do what they are paid to do, Pacquiao, Marquez and their respective trainers will look to get to work on preparing for the big fight. Whereas Marquez will likely work on his stamina and accuracy (he threw and landed fewer jabs/power punches/total punches in the fourth match), Pacquiao will work on his defense. The Filipino star was headed towards a win this past December, and the only reason that didn’t work out for him is because he hastily walked into a beautifully-timed counter. Freddie Roach’s fighters are known to get careless, so that will definitely be an item of concern in camp.
The real question at this point is: does Pacquiao still have the speed and reaction time, at his advanced age (in boxing years), to adequately defend himself? During a recent interview with Kevin McRae of the Bleacher Report, Roach tackled that very subject.
"I will really really watch him closely in the ring, in the gym and make sure that everything is in place. If something is not in place I will cancel that [a fifth Marquez] fight and he will retire," Roach said.
That’s statement is huge for two reasons. One, because it shows that neither Roach nor Pacquiao are fully comfortable with what transpired last year. (When was the last time you heard a trainer admit that he would consider canceling a fight like this?) And two, because it makes it clear that everybody in Pacquiao’s camp is preparing for a fifth showdown against Marquez – squashing the rumors that they may not fight each other.
In the same interview, Roach explained why Marquez made the most sense for his guy right. It was the same line of reasoning we have been pointing out for months now.
"At the level we're at either we fight the young stud coming up Brandon Rios type of guys or we fight a rematch with Marquez. I think the rematch is the fight to take."
He’s right. It’s the only fight that makes sense at this point. The only one in which the risk doesn't exceed the reward.
Keep an eye on what Roach says over the next few months. The Hall of Fame trainer isn’t one to bite his tongue. If he doesn’t feel like Pacquiao is ready for his next bout, he won’t hesitate to acknowledge it. And if he does end up acknowledging it, it will be interesting to see how all of the people who are financially vested in Pacquiao-Marquez V react to it.