Manny Pacquiao’s reign as one of the best boxers of all time has spanned 17 years, eight division titles, countless championship defenses and three losses by knockout. It’s that last figure, the losses by knockout, that may ultimately determine how many more bouts he has left in him.
Every fighter out there, whether they’re a boxer, kickboxer or mixed martial artist, knows the risks and occupational hazards associated with the way they earn a living. Repeated head trauma, multiple broken bones, unspeakable wear and tear on vital muscles and ligaments – it all comes standard. And yet, for one reason or another, they do what they do anyway.
The question all of these guys face on a daily basis is: at what point do the risks outweigh in the rewards? At what point is the cost no longer worth the benefit?
Pacquiao is facing that decision now.
According to ABS-CBN, Dr. Rustico Jimenez -- the President of Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines -- believes that the Filipino boxing legend is showing early signs of Parkinson’s. While he hasn’t been able to personally examine Pacquiao, Dr. Jimenez has noticed certain characteristics (i.e. hand twitching) which indicate to him that this should at least be something that gets examined.
The easy response is: if Dr. Jimenez hasn’t examined Pacquiao personally, he is just spouting off on a topic he really has no idea about. Fair enough. But given everything we know about the head trauma boxers endure, mixed in with the brutal knockout loss Pacquiao just suffered at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, and taking into account that he has been fighting the world’s best pound-for-pounders over the past five years – is it really that farfetched to believe that Pacquiao’s body is finally beginning to show signs of breaking down?
Mind you, Pacquiao -- and promoter Bob Arum -- are already plotting his 2013 return. We aren’t even a full month removed from him being knocked out cold and landing face first on the canvas, and they are already halfway done scheduling the Filipino star’s next fight.
Maybe Dr. Jimenez is full of hot air. Maybe he is just trying to get attention. But Pacquiao owes it to both himself and his family (who has been begging for him to retire) to get checked out.
Ultimately, the onus may fall on Freddie Roach. He is one of the few people in Pacquiao’s camp who seems to genuinely care for his fighter, and as someone who suffers from Parkinson’s, he knows all too well what living with the disease feels like.