Things change quickly in boxing. Fighters can reign supreme and then, even without much happening, find themselves knocked down several pegs. Sometimes the changes happen over the course of months and/or years. Sometimes they seemingly happen overnight.
In the case of Manny Pacquiao, one would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to not notice the falling stock of a fighter once head and shoulders above all but one other fighter.
The cult-like loyal Pacquiao fans may not have budged over the years, but there has definitely been an angry rumbling among hardcore fight fans who have soured on the Pacquiao product and the way reality has been bent and distorted in order to fit a Top Rank storyline.
Fans were willing to put up with catchweight clauses and sanctioning body interference on Pacquiao's behalf. After all, who wasn't ready to love Manny's ultimate underdog story and comic book drama? Lately, however, the media manipulations have been going on as usual, but patience has been waning on the part of many boxing fans. This is because Pacquiao broke the cardinal rule of boxing.
Fans will put up with a lot of nonsense, but when fights stop being entertaining, expect real problems and also expect some of the sharper critics to take aim at even the most beloved of characters. In the case of Manny Pacquiao, specifically, he hasn't really put out an entertaining product since 2010 and in the two years since that last entertaining scrap, we've seen controversial decisions, bouts with faded no-hopers, and plenty of meaningless lip service to the fights that should be made for boxers at his level.
There is no burning need to see Pacquiao anymore and, even more disturbing for Top Rank Promotions, no real calls anymore for Manny to "do the right thing" and make some true legacy-testers. Frankly, many have just given up on ever seeing his greatness justified above the super featherweight limit.
So, with that in mind, it would make the most sense for a legacy-minded Pacquiao to pursue some truly demanding, honest bouts that would put him at a legitimate risk of losing.
Forget the horrid rematch of the disgusting Tim Bradley debacle. Forget a fourth Juan Manuel Marquez bout that will once again see Manny get the scoring benefit of every doubt.
Manny has to face the other best welterweight in the world and, if Floyd Mayweather is absolutely out of the question, he should take himself out of the hand-picked, hand-cultivated Top Rank food chain.
Step out and start dealing with some of Golden Boy's fighters at 147-154 lbs., like Saul Alvarez, Erislandy Lara, or James Kirkland or face the fact that he's quickly becoming irrelevant. Pacquiao is good enough and skilled enough to beat anyone in that weight range, but without venturing outside of his own in-house talent pool he runs the risk that his legacy will eventually be defined as that of a great fighter who defeated the best Top Rank had to offer, but left half of the available talent pool untouched because of promotional politics.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
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