For the first time in a long time, Manny Pacquiao is entering a fight with something to prove. Over the last three years, regardless of whether you had him as your No. 1 or No. 2 overall pound-for-pounder, the Filipino champion’s elite fighting skills were beyond reproach. Nobody questioned his greatness; it was just a matter of how great he truly was.
That all changed with a subpar showing versus Juan Manuel Marquez this past November. Now, to be fair – there are a lot of extenuating circumstances involved when you talk about that match. For one thing, Pacquiao allegedly was served with divorce papers right before it happened. Then there were all the political distractions he was facing at the time. And, of course, that’s to say nothing of the stylistic problems that Marquez has traditionally posed.
At the end of the day, though, performances don’t come with asterisks. You either rocked the other guy or you didn’t – and Pacquiao didn’t.
Because of how unimpressive that last victory over Marquez was, all eyes will now be on Pacquiao as he takes on quite possibly his most formidable opponent in years, Timothy Bradley. (Physically, not style-wise.) A strong performance this Saturday and the Filipino champion silences his critics once and for all; a weak performance this Saturday and Manny should probably call it quits.
Yup, call it quits. That’s not our opinion – that take belongs to the man who transformed Pacquiao in the fighter we know him as today. Per the Washington Post:
“He’s no killer, but he tries hard,” Roach said of Bradley. “Manny should eat him up as he comes forward. I think Manny should look really good in this fight.”
And if he doesn’t? Well, then you finally can forget about that big fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. that now seems destined never to happen.
“If he looks bad, he retires,” Roach said. “At least I’ll tell him to. And he may be the first one who will listen to me.”
That’s a pretty damning statement. And seeing as Roach isn’t one to just speak recklessly, it should be taken to heart.
While it’s certainly a bit odd to suggest that a guy who hasn’t lost in years and has consistently remained atop boxing’s hierarchy should retire if he looks bad in victory, maybe there is something to be said for that notion. Pacquiao has a lot going for him outside the ring, and he’s made it no secret that he doesn’t plan to fight until the end of time. He’s going to do it until he doesn’t want to anymore – plain and simple.
Could he stop wanting to after a showing versus Bradley reminiscent of the one that he had against Marquez?
Pacquiao and Bradley will square off on June 9 for the WBO welterweight title.