In the immediate aftermath of Manny Pacquiao’s loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, the only thing anyone really wanted to talk about was how he would bounce back from the experience physically. You had medical officials come out and question whether he was beginning to show signs of Parkinson’s. The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended him from any sparring or fighting for at least three months. The lingering, long-term impact of repeated head trauma was analyzed to no end.
What very few people actually wanted to talk about, though, was the mental fallout from going through what Pacquiao went through. Mind you, this is a guy who hadn’t legitimately lost a fight in seven years. (Obviously the Timothy Bradley debacle doesn’t count.)
There have been extreme cases like Ricky Hatton where a particularly dominant defeat has pushed the loser to complete collapse; there have been less drastic -- but still troubling -- incidents where guys are okay in their regular lives, but just can’t compete at the same high level anymore. This is a very real problem, and given how he lost this past December, it is a very real problem specifically for Pacquiao.
One surefire way to have your fighter lose confidence is to start expressing doubts in his abilities. It is okay to acknowledge defeat, own it and make plans to move on. However, if you linger on it for too long, if you blow it up too much, it could do serious damage to your guy’s confidence.
Top Rank boss Bob Arum gets that. When he talks about Pacquiao’s knockout loss, he minimizes Marquez’s accomplishments to the max.
"I've seen fighters recover from that and it not affect them at all," he told Boxing Scene. "Because remember, he didn't get beat up. He didn't get beat into submission and then get knocked out. It was one punch and he was through, so he didn't take punishment."
Arum, of course, is referencing the fact that the Filipino star was winning his bout on every judge’s score card before Marquez caught him with the prettiest punch of 2012.
Still, Arum understands that, along with the mental aspect, keeping an eye on Pacquiao’s physical wellbeing is important, too. That is why he has been telling his guy to undergo any and all tests necessary to ensure he is okay.
"All I can do is suggest it, because he has passed his [post-fight] test in Nevada and he passed his test in the Philippines," Arum said. "I would like him to get the test that is probably the best test in the world. What else can I do? Hopefully he'll do that. Now, if the fight doesn't happen until September, chances are I can drag him over here [to the United States] and get it done."
Pacquiao’s next fight and his performance in it will be a testament to his perseverance. A sign of how he recovers from setbacks, both physical and mental. It will be interesting to see what happens.