Manny Pacquiao wasted no time asking Juan Manuel Marquez for a rematch. On the night of the knockout heard around the world, just moments after regaining consciousness, the Filipino star did an interview in which he didn’t bother trying to be subtle – he plainly stated that a fifth bout against his arch rival was what he wanted.
The interesting thing about Pacquiao’s immediate reaction is that he didn’t wait to get clearance from a physician. He didn’t say that he would fight Marquez pending approval from his doctor; he didn’t say that he would confer with his family and then come to a decision. No, right there and then, having just gotten embarrassed with the whole world watching, the former eight division champ told one and all that he planned to redeem himself no matter what.
It was settled. The Filipino star would fight again. Soon.
Some weeks after that Dec. 8 showdown, numerous medical officials came out and publicly advised Pacquiao to hang up his gloves.
“Severe blows to the head could result to Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia which could worsen. There are many cases of the effects resulting to chronic trauma or repeated blow to the head especially to boxers, even football players,” Dr. Raquel Fortun, a forensic expert from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, told the Inquirer.
A different specialist, the president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, offered a similar take on the situation.
“It is best for Pacquiao to retire now if he wants to avoid what happened to Muhammad Ali, and also to award-winning trainer Freddie Roach who both suffered similar nervous system disease. Later on, Pacquiao could suffer Alzheimer’s disease. He should be careful,” said Dr. Rustico Jimenez.
When both of those opinions were published by the press, you got a myriad of reactions from various boxing fans, broadcasters and analysts. One side (fairly reasonably) argued that a public diagnosis from doctors who hadn’t personally examined Pacquiao was worth squat. The other side pointed out that this was just common sense at work; that, when a guy takes the sort of punishment Pacquiao took in his last fight, health concerns are a natural part of the equation. They also argued that if they didn’t look out for the Filipino star, nobody would. (Because the people employed by Pacquiao get paid if he fights, thus it is in their best interest to push him towards a fifth Marquez fight regardless of his health.)
What all involved failed to take note of, however, is that it didn’t matter whether the doctors were right or wrong. It didn’t matter how they came to their conclusions. Heck, it didn’t even matter if their motivations were good-natured or self-serving – all that mattered was Pacquiao’s mindset before he ever heard their recommendations.
And he made that mindset clear on Dec. 8, the night of the knockout. He planned to fight Marquez again right there and then, no matter what any fan, doctor, writer or family member told him.
All analysis regarding Pacquiao’s health and whether or not it will impact him 2013 is moot.
He will fight.
End of story.