‘It’s still Pacquiao who will decide his fate. But those who encourage him are literally killing him,’ says former WBC super featherweight champion Rene Barrientos
Former WBC super featherweight champion Ireneo “Rene” Barrientos has this piece of unsolicited advice for Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao: don’t ever think of fighting in the ring again.
The 80-year-old Barrientos, who once faced off with Filipino boxing great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, said on Wednesday, September 8, that the 42-year-old senator should now come to terms with the reality that his age has caught up with him, and that he would be taking great risks if he decided to climb the ring again.
“Manny should retire from boxing. Boxing is a young man’s game. Why won’t he just enjoy the fortune that he has as a result of his years of sacrifice?” Barrientos said in his Mahogany Street home in Carmen, Cagayan de Oro.
The Pacquiao camp has hinted at a possible January 2022 rematch with 35-year-old Cuban Yordenis Ugas, who retained the WBA featherweight title via a unanimous decision in August.
Barrientos said Pacquiao should not heed those who have advised him against hanging up the gloves, “especially those who see him as the goose that lays the golden eggs.”
“It’s still Pacquiao who will decide his fate. But those who encourage him are literally killing him,” he said.
Barrientos said Pacquiao’s preparation for his last fight required a training regimen that was too much for a boxer his age such as 30 rounds of sparring daily. He blamed that for Pacquiao’s leg cramp that resulted in his downfall during the Las Vegas fight night.
Aggravating that, he said, was Pacquiao’s lung-busting runs and sprint off the hilly Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California.
Former Olympian Roberto “Bobby” Jalnaiz, who accompanied Pacquiao in his jogs, said a seven-kilometer stretch, and prolonged and agonizing sit-ups and stretches, were normal morning routines for the 42-year-old senator.
“Binaboy nila si Manny (They treated Manny inhumanely). At 42, training like that is physical abuse,” said the Aklan-born Barrientos.
“When you’re old, you no longer have the endurance. It’s hard for the battle-scarred muscles to bounce back and absorb pain against solid blows. In Pacquiao’s case, gabunal-bunalan pa iyang lawas sa (his body was being beaten up during) training which was clear foolishness because it takes time for swollen muscles to heal. I know because I’ve been there before. The spirit is willing but the flesh is already weak when you’re old.”
Barrientos was already 40 years old when he fought 23-year-old Thailander Jong Satherigym in 1978. That was his last fight – a non-title one at that – and ring victory via unanimous decision.
It was during that fight that Barrientos said he realized he had enough. He said he easily got tired and was already catching his breath.
“I know the feeling. I was scoring with my punches yet I was the one getting really tired,” he remembered.
Before Pacquiao, the Filipino boxing icon was the legendary “Flash” Elorde, the longest-reigning world junior lightweight champion. The late Elorde held on to that title for seven years and three months.
But fighting past 30 against the then 21-year-old Barrientos on February 27, 1965, at the Cebu City Coliseum, Elorde needed some luck to fashion out a controversial win on points that drew flak even from the Cebuano fans.
Barrientos recalled that he was the busy fighter then. He said he was throwing more punches that the Cebu crowd got mad when the referee called it a slip instead of a knockdown for Elorde in the 11th of their 12-round bout for the latter’s Orient Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) title.
Worse, Barrientos said, the referee pushed him to the corner as if helping Elorde to recover from the fall.
“We buried the hatchet, and we became close friends. I always visited him (Elorde) in Manila, especially at the time when he was seriously ill,” Barrientos recalled.
Barrientos remembered that Elorde also once visited him in Cagayan de Oro where he vacationed for one week before he fell ill.
“The original ‘Filipino Flash’ was a great human being outside the ring,” Barrientos said.
He said he learned from his fight with Elorde that when he turned 25, he went on to defeat American Ruben Navarro for the WBC super featherweight crown on February 15, 1969 at the Araneta Coliseum.