Forget the horrid, putrid, rancid decision that forced him to hand over his WBO welterweight title to Timothy Bradley on June 9th, Manny Pacquiao's just may be on the last legs of a long run as a boxing mega-star.
Chalk up his last performance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the third straight tepid performance for the fighter once touted as an all-action thrill-seeking prizefighter. And, oh yeah, let's not even talk about his own controversial decision win against Juan Manuel Marquez just five months prior to the Bradley brouhaha.
There's no mistaking it, some of the shine has dimmed from the Filipino pop culture icon's star. It's hard to imagine the Manny of old turning in a dull performance against a come forward fighter like Tim Bradley or taking his foot off the gas in the seventh round of a twelve round bout. It's even harder to imagine "prime" Pacquiao playing a semi-dull game of tag against a fighter sporting one busted foot and another badly-twisted one.
Maybe what some have said is true after all- Pacquiao's status as a fan favorite superstar had a lot to do with Top Rank's matchmaking. Maybe he's looked supremely vulnerable recently because he's run out of hand-chosen, conveniently vulnerable canon fodder.
Another possible explanation for Pacquiao's poor showings is that fame, fortune, and contentment have finally tempered the beast within him. With so much to do and so many distractions, Manny has become a man of leisure-- and very few men of leisure can muster the drive to fight with urgency.
Whatever the case, Manny will fight on and keep collecting paychecks for the sake of the fan base he has already created and for the mouths that hungrily demand their cut from his fortune. This is his business now, not necessarily his burning passion anymore. That's why Manny Pacquiao fights are becoming less and less cases of "Must See TV."
Perhaps the artificially created feud with Timothy Bradley and the sure-fire rematch (no matter what spin comes from Top Rank about not really wanting a rematch) will spark something deep inside. But these fires are hard to re-stoke, no matter how hard one tries.
Manny will beat Bradley in the rematch, even if he really loses this time, and then move on to Juan Manuel Marquez where he'll win again, no matter what. But so what? Blah. Unless there's a Floyd Mayweather in the mix at some point, the Manny Pacquiao thrill has gone away.
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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