I Believed Manny Pacquiao

By Robert Ecksel on August 27, 2021

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“In the future, you might not see Manny Pacquiao in the ring again to fight.” (Getty Images)

Nothing’s in writing. There’s been no formal announcement. No press release has curbed the speculation. There has been talk, there’s always talk; but the most meaningful words came from the celebrated fighting senator from General Santos City, Philippines, after his recent loss to WBA welterweight champion, 4-1 underdog Yordenis Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) from Santiago de Cuba.

 

Even at his advanced age, 42-year-old Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) remains a top-10 fighter. But he is slowing down fast. His defense is porous. He can be hit. He’s now rarely explosive. Manny looked as if he was, literally and figuratively, on his last legs. And while his career and evolution, in and out of the ring, are worthy of old-school accolades, at this point he lacks the skills to get inside a pure boxer/puncher—like Mayweather, Marquez, or Yordenis Ugas.

 

Pacquiao didn’t embarrass himself. He as usual gave his all. But Ugas had his number from the start. The final scores of 115-113 and 116-112 twice were just if not quite accurate. Manny lost the fight bad and fair and square. The substandard performance, bolstered by two years on inactivity, suggested the end was either near or at hand. The 17,000 fans at T-Mobile knew it. The millions watching at home knew it. Even Manny knew it, or so he said, or managed to not quite say in so few words.

 

CompuBox agreed that it wasn’t competitive. Ugas chose his shots masterfully. Working from the outside, he threw just 405 punches over 12 rounds, landing 151, or 37.3 percent. Pacquiao was busier, if not as effective. He threw 815 punches, twice as many as the champion, but landed only 130 or 16 percent. Things in the power punch department were even worse. Ugas outlanded Pacquiao by a landslide: 59.1 percent of his power punches hit the mark, whereas Manny only landed 25.9 percent of his power shots.

 

During the post-fight interview, Manny was philosophical about the loss. “I’m sorry I lost tonight, but I did my best. I’m making a hard time in the ring, making adjustments about his style and I think that’s a problem for me.” Pacquiao said his leg muscles started cramping early. “My legs so tight it’s hard to move.”

 

A boxer who cannot move needs to think about tomorrow. Pacquiao has nothing left to prove. If he gets out now with his wits intact and money in the bank, he should consider himself fortunate.

 

He thanked the crowd for "attending my fight during a pandemic." When asked about his plans, Manny said, “I’ll make an announcement next month. I know that I’m facing a big problem and more difficult works than boxing,” alluding to his campaign for the presidency of the Philippines. “I want to help the people.”

 

Pacquiao continued his farewell address.

 

“In my more than 20 years in boxing, I hope I make you happiness and enjoyment in my career. That’s boxing. Let’s face another tomorrow, again, and plan our future in the ring.”

 

Is Pacquiao retiring or not? It sounded like it. Then it didn’t. At first I believed him. Now I’m not so sure. He’s facing a formidable opponent in incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2022. That won’t be an easy fight for either man.

 

Mirrored shades hid Manny's bruises at the post-fight presser.

 

He told the assembled media, “I did my best, but my best was not good enough. No excuses. Congratulations to Ugas.”

 

A good loser is hard to find. Manny's the exception that proves the rule.

 

“I’ve done a lot for boxing. And boxing’s done a lot for me. In the future, you might not see Manny Pacquiao in the ring again to fight.”

 

Was Pacquiao softening us up for the inevitable? Or had the straight talking boxer relinquished the dais to the smooth talking politician?

 

“I don’t know,” Pacquiao said. “In my heart, I want to continue to fight. But the thing is, I also have to consider my body. We’re not young anymore.”

 

Manny was emotional. He seemed sincere. But his remarks were inconclusive.

 

“This sport is my passion. That’s why I keep doing it. But, at the age of 42, sometimes you have to think about your body.”