It’s time Manny Pacquiao learned a lesson from Floyd Mayweather so he too can start writing the greatest success story of his life.
Mayweather mastered a hit-and-don’t-get-hit boxing style, became a five-weight world champion, and defeated a who’s who of elite fighters.
Crucially, unlike many boxers, Mayweather left the sport on his own terms — as a home-owner with a property portfolio, a fleet of fast cars, and a private jet.
He retired as a billionaire business owner with assets including the Mayweather Boxing Club, Mayweather Promotions, and his gentleman’s club Girl Collection.
When it came to boxing, no combat athlete completed the game as brilliantly as Mayweather, who left not chewed up, spat out, broke, pissed off, or injured, but happy, and with his faculties intact.
Pacquiao — who lost a 12-round decision to Mayweather in 2015 — lost the 72nd pro bout of his career Saturday when he dropped a decision to Yordenis Ugas.
This week his wife Jinkee posted a video on Instagram in which she spoon-fed him a meal.
During the clip, he seemingly couldn’t open his eyes, and was still wearing the wounds of war with bruising and cuts littering his face.ư
Should he continue his career, the injuries may only get worse.
Pacquiao is struggling to compete against younger, top five-ranked welterweight opponents.
As a veteran boxer, these matches are only going to get tougher for him.
To make matters worse, there are a number of hungry young guns who will have someone like Pacquiao in their crosshairs.
The time is right for Pacquiao to move on himself — not to 154, but into retirement or a semi-retired state.
He won a flyweight world championship in 1998, and has held world titles in the 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s.
Pacquiao’s longevity is remarkable for a fighter who boxes as fast and aggressively as he often does.
But the more he fights, the likelier it is that he won’t be able to retire on his own terms, and will instead feel chewed up and spat out, pissed off, potentially injured, and, in the worst-case scenario — without his faculties intact.
Pacquiao may only have one foot out the door
Pacquiao seemingly contemplated his own future, saying after the recent loss to Cuba’s Ugas: “In the future, you may not see Manny Pacquiao in the ring.”
Days later, speaking to The Athletic, he talked about the possibility of an immediate rematch.
“Yes, I can come back in January,” the boxer said.
“I will see about it. I know I can rematch him if I want. I’ll just need to tell [Premier Boxing Champions boss] Al Haymon. That would be no problem.”
Pacquiao’s long-time coach Freddie Roach first met the Filipino as a scrawny super bantamweight in 2001.
Together, they forged one of the most famous partnerships in prizefighting. Roach said this week, however, that he fears Pacquiao’s boxing days may be numbered.
“I’m a little bit worried about it, yes,” he told Boxing Scene.
“I hate to see that day when he retires, but this could be it. He didn’t have a great performance — but we’ll see what Manny decides.”
Ten years ago, Roach told The Guardian about how “boxing gets in your blood and you just can’t quit.”
Roach spoke from experience as he continued with his own fighting career long after others told him that he should move on to other things. “I had five fights too many,” Roach told Donald McRae. “I lost four of ’em.”
Roach was later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Pacquiao’s former boxing promoter Bob Arum, who runs fight firm Top Rank from his Las Vegas headquarters, said in 2019 that Pacquiao is risking brain damage by fighting in his 40s.
“When they get to a certain age that they probably shouldn’t be fighting anymore,” Arum told Fight Hub TV.
Before Roach went on a losing run at the tail-end of his career, he had someone close to him who told him he should stop.
“[Boxing coach] Eddie Futch knew I’d had enough,” Roach told The Guardian. “But I was 26 years old and still hard-headed and I couldn’t see it.”
Maybe Pacquiao can see it. Maybe he can’t.
But he at least has people close to him — like Haymon, Roach, and Jinkee — who can advise that he should not go on. Not against elite boxers, at least.
Pacquiao could end his career like Mayweather did
Mayweather fought again four months after slaying Pacquiao six years ago, returning to the MGM Grand Garden Arena ring in Vegas to defeat Andre Berto.
He fought once again in boxing, beating UFC star Conor McGregor in 2017, though it was not a true contest but more of a spectacle, and a huge money-making opportunity.
Nine-figure paydays like Mayweather generated for himself are a rarity. Regardless, Pacquiao could consider his own money-making opportunities — that would make him eight figures, for sure — against UFC fighters.
Should Pacquiao really want to continue in boxing, making big money that could help victims of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, then novelty matches against sub elite competition in boxing are an obvious option.
Mayweather made this strategy famous.
He fought his 50th and final bout against McGregor, knocked out the 20-year-old kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa using boxing rules at a Tokyo exhibition the following year. He returned in June to go eight rounds with internet celebrity Logan Paul.
Pacquiao could do similar by fighting Conor McGregor in Vegas, Dubai, or in a homecoming retirement bout at a Manila fundraiser, if he has his heart set on one more fight.
It is a match both fighters have spoken about before and would work as an exhibition, or a legitimate contest that poses little risk to Pacquiao, as McGregor is not an elite boxer.
Even Arum, who had previously expressed concern about Pacquiao exposing himself to brain trauma, told Insider last year that the boxer would destroy McGregor.
“Mayweather played with [McGregor], that was a joke,” Arum told us.
“Pacquiao doesn’t know how to play. So McGregor is getting knocked out pretty quick. Pacquiao couldn’t play the way Mayweather did.”
Pacquiao could bow out as a boxer on a high, and then focus further on his political career, and his business interests as the face of MP Promotions — a boxing entity that represents promising Filipino talent.
Should he do that then he, like Mayweather, would also write his greatest success story by quitting while ahead.