COMMENTARY | Have the chickens finally come home to roost for Manny Pacquiao and the cynical matchmaking that has characterized his stellar five-year run as international superstar and icon?
The 34-year old, eight-division world champ, who will turn 35 one week before his November 23 bout with Brandon Rios, seems to have run out of opponents he can legitimately face--- and his own team may be responsible for guiding him into this dead end.
The Filipino legend and his team have talked about making what amounts to one more victory tour in Asia before retirement, but as the landscape develops in front of them, it looks as though that final run may have to come against second-tier fighters and pugs well below the level expected of a Pacquiao opponent. The big fights--- the ones Manny genuinely needs and/or wants--- may have been made all but impossible because of the bad matchmaking karma accrued by Team Pacquiao on their rise to glory.
Juan Manuel Marquez is the biggest example of a fighter put-off by bad experiences with Team Pacquiao.
After each of the first three controversial decisions involved in their series, Marquez was made to wait and suffer, unsure if he'd ever get a chance at redemption. And, if not for a lack of viable opposition prior to their fourth clash, it seems as though Pacquiao would've been more than happy to never see his Mexican arch-rival again.
As fate would play out, though, a perfectly-timed right hand at the end of the sixth round would give Marquez the closure he craved and, now, he seems perfectly fine with closing this frustrating chapter of his professional career.
"Pacquiao has been saying many things and immediately you can see that he wants me to take the bait, but he won't achieve that. What he wants is a fifth fight, but it's not going to happen. I wish to leave this sport with the memory of knocking Pacquiao out after they stole three decisions from me. And [in the fourth fight] I showed who was the better fighter," Marquez told Notifight/Boxingscene.
"I'd rather stay with the memory of that lucky punch that I connected on Pacquiao, "Marquez continued, sarcastically. "It's about pride and honor, not money."
Marquez will face Timothy Bradley on October 12 for the WBO welterweight belt Bradley took from Manny via controversial split decision in June of last year. And whether he wins or loses, a 40-year-old Marquez may likely opt for retirement.
Pacquiao still holds the right to a rematch with Bradley, but has never given the possibility of a return bout much public comment. Ironically, he seems to be reluctant to face Bradley for the same reason Marquez wants nothing to do with Pacquiao--- he feels that he has already proven himself the better man and refuses on principle to go back.
But it appears as though Pacquiao may have to swallow his pride and entertain the idea of a Bradley rematch because there may be no other option.
Most potential big name opponents for Pacquiao have to be ruled out due to his team's insistence on only facing in house, Top Rank-promoted fighters. Since the money started really rolling in during Pacquiao's run as a smiling, prizefighting, karaoke-loving oddity, Team Pacquiao has been careful not to risk losing a dime to some outsider beyond their power to manipulate.
And THE fight--- Mayweather-Pacquiao?
Nearly four full years of wavering, questionable negotiating, and contradictory statements on the issue have destroyed any chance of ever making the sport's biggest money fight. The people who guided Pacquiao to this dead end aren't likely to turn the ship around now. The only possible way to make this fight is if Pacquiao, himself, takes the helm for his last voyage.
Mayweather, whose own interest in the bout has wavered over the years, seems to have closed the book completely on Manny, recently telling David Mayo of MLIve: "Now, I'm feeling like I wouldn't even give him a chance...He had a chance, he blew it, so that's what it is."
So, now, a still-viable Pacquiao (don't buy the hype that one KO loss has killed his career) will soon find himself closed off from the outside world due to years of bullying opposition into Top Rank contracts and cornering his toughest foes into forced contractual stipulations.
The money will still be there for Pacquiao -- China is desperately thirsty for main stage boxing. But the sadness will be that a truly gifted warrior with plenty of life left in his heart and soul will become little more than an Asian casino attraction, going through the motions against second-rate opposition.
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 as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Sources: Boxingscene, MLive
- Sports & Recreation
- Manny Pacquiao
- Juan Manuel Marquez