Manny Pacquiao is still very much atop the boxing game, but even he realizes the end is near. The Filipino champion is a legend by anyone’s standards at this point, but in the current state of boxing especially, he could probably comfortably fight for another five or so years with no sign of letting up.
That’s not what Pacquiao wants, though. During a recent interview with KO Boxing, he made it known – he has bigger plans for the future.
“I'm not gonna stay long in boxing. A couple of fights and I will stop boxing. I will focus to serve people,” he said.
Too many fighters have hung on past their primes in this sport, waited too long to retire. They kept trying to milk one last payday from the fans, one last big win from their opponents. Then, in almost tragic fashion, they would get clobbered into retirement (ironically, over the last 5 years Pacquiao was the guy sending those fighters there) in embarrassing fashion.
That, however, won’t be Pacquiao’s path. For the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, his 53-3-2 record en route to some of the most memorable bouts in recent boxing history is enough. Acquiring titles in eight weight classes, defeating the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez (twice, and soon to be a third time), Erik Morales, Ricky Hatton and becoming an international icon unlike anything boxing has seen in decades appear to be enough.
Even still, simply retiring without some sort of farewell tour is unbecoming of the Filipino superstar. He needs to go out with a bang, like all big name legends should. Like Michael Jordan hitting that jumper over Byron Russell in the 1998 NBA Finals (the world is still pretending that Washington Wizards run never happened, right?), Pacquiao needs to find a way to put the cherry atop his Hall-of-Fame career.
And we here at Opposing Views knew precisely how he can do that.
This horrendous November 12 bout against Marquez is unavoidable, but in a way it’s also a fitting part of the conclusion of Pacquiao’s career. The pair share some fascinating, controversial history, and when the pound-for-pound champ destroys Marquez he’ll firmly close the door on those “should Marquez have really won?” talks, once and for all.
From there, Pacquiao should fight Amir Khan. This probably won’t happen -- and the great Freddie Roach has already made it clear he doesn’t want it to -- but what better way for Pacquiao to come down the home stretch of his farewell tour than against the youngster who has made it a point to model his career after the him? Surely Khan would fall to Pacquiao because he’s just not of the Filipino star’s caliber at this point, but it would still be an entertaining battle that, win or loss, would no doubt be the highlight of Khan’s career.
And finally, ideally, Pacquiao would close out his storied career with the one match everyone wants to see. No more talk from either side, no more lawyers. Just Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the man who replaced him atop boxing’s ranks meeting in the center of the ring, juking it out, battling for supremacy in boxing lore. It would be the greatest match of Pacquiao’s career, and it would generate more money for him than he could live on in ten lifetimes. He could retire comfortably and with the knowledge that he fought the best and brightest the sport had to offer.
The Marquez, Khan and Mayweather path to retirement would be an epic way to exit the game for Pacquiao, and one that fits given his impact on boxing. Sure he could probably stick around and be a premiere fighter for the next five years, fighting scrubs and nobodies – but what’s the point? He and his ardent supporters seem to agree that he has a higher calling public service.
Pacquiao has come, saw and conquered the boxing world – he has nothing left to prove.