Manny Pacquiao – The Lion In Winter
By: Sean Crose
In reality, it truly does seem like a sitcom that’s gone on a season or two too long. Indeed, Manny Pacquiao’s jump from known boxer to household name occurred the better half of a decade ago. Since that time, the man has suffered three loses, become a political figure and has inched closer to forty. Truth be told, there will never be a fight as big as the one Pacquiao engaged in against Floyd Mayweather close to a year and a half ago – at least not during Pacquiao’s career. For the end is far closer than the beginning for the fighter known as Pac-Man – unless, of course, the Filipino icon engages in some Bernard Hopkins-style timelessness.
But perhaps that’s part of the plan. Oh, Pacquiao would never go out and say he wants to fight into his fifties – and perhaps he doesn’t – but it’s clear the man still has at least a good amount of the old fire in his belly, at least if recent training videos of the welterweight are any indication. Sure enough, Pacquiao is preparing for yet another battle, this time against the talented and hungry Jessie Vargas on November 5th in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao, of course, halfheartedly retired from the sport of boxing last spring after defeating Timothy Bradley – perhaps himself a future Hall of Famer – for the second (some would argue third) time in a row. That retirement, however, didn’t even last as long as the regular distance between one Pacquiao fight and the next. And so now he’s back – as if he’s ever left – throwing punches like pistons against pads held by longtime trainer Freddie Roach, looking as comfortable in the sport that’s brought him fame and fortune as he’s ever been. Yet time, as has been said countless times, waits for no one, and Pacquiao is no exception.
Indeed, great as he is, even the iconic Hopkins isn’t the fighter he once was. And, as people like to bring up, Pacquiao hasn’t knocked out an opponent in years (though that sort of thing tends to happen when one regularly faces top level opposition). Sooner or later, some young buck will likely come along to play Kovalev to the man’s Hopkins, or – worse yet – Marciano to his Louis. Such things tend to be inevitable if one wishes to continue competing at the top of one’s profession – provided that profession is boxing.
Yet here’s a sticky truth that many seem to overlook:
Pacquiao is still arguably the best welterweight in the world. He’s just bested Bradley and could conceivably best the likes of Danny Garcia, as well (we’ll see about Vargas, though Pacquiao has good reason to be favored). Sure, men like Keith Thurman, Errol Spence, Amir Khan and Kell Brook (should he return to welterweight) could pose a real challenge, but no one in his or her right mind would write PacMan off against those potential foes – at least not yet.
Until proven otherwise, this all-time great still may rule the roost at welterweight.