Chronicle: Even Manny Pacquiao finds Father Time undefeated
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Manny Pacquiao’s story is so remarkable that anyone who knows it can’t help but say it doesn’t end badly.
Fighting out of abject poverty in the Philippines was an accomplishment in itself. Winning titles in eight different divisions and becoming a featured pay-per-view attraction cemented his status as a boxing legend.
And don’t forget Pacquiao’s second career as a politician. There is an outward chance that he will end up as President of the Philippines if he plays his cards right.
The fact that Pacquiao has options out of the ring could make his retirement easier following his decision loss on Saturday to Yordenis Ugas. Hopefully, he also has a few of his millions left to help him resist the urge to lace the gloves again.
Yes, he could still fight, even at the age of 42. And, yes, people would probably still be lining up for tickets to watch.
But for all intents and purposes it’s over, something Pacquiao himself seemed to recognize, even though he wasn’t quite ready to announce his retirement.
“Thanks to all of you,” he said in a post-fight press conference that looked a lot like the last one he’ll have. “Thank you boxing.”
Boxing history, of course, is littered with fighters who couldn’t stop on their own terms. Even Muhammad Ali was not immune, fighting in a cow pasture in Bermuda in a forgettable last fight, then having to fight Parkinson’s disease for the rest of his life.
Hope we saw Pacquiao’s last one in the ring. Not because it looks like boxing will have a big hole to fill with his departure, but because time has taken its toll on Pacquiao as it has for so many fighters before him.
Golfers can play long past their prime, as evidenced by Phil Mickelson’s PGA Championship victory at the age of 50. There’s a football player of Pacquiao’s age in Florida who just picked up a Super Bowl victory and isn’t showing any signs of wanting to hang up his boots.
But you don’t play boxing, where there’s always a chance the next big punch will be the last.
No, Pacquiao didn’t look horrible in the ring when he gave up a unanimous decision to Ugas. But he certainly didn’t look like a fighter able to beat Errol Spence Jr., a dominant welterweight who was to be his opponent before he was diagnosed with retinal detachment two weeks before the fight.
Pacquiao paused as he escaped a possible beating. But even the unannounced Ugas were able to beat him by walking away – a clear sign that after 26 years of fighting as a pro, it’s time to hang them up.
âI am a fighter inside and outside the ring and I have work to do now for my people,â Pacquiao said. “In the future you may not see Manny Pacquiao in the ring again, but I’m so happy with what I’ve accomplished.”
These achievements are many and well deserved. Pacquiao fought the best, beat most of them, and – except for his surprisingly poor performance in his highly publicized fight with Folyd Mayweather Jr. – delivered every time he stepped into the ring.
He is not only a Hall of Famer, but an inspiration to fighters around the world. Once a street kid, he became one of the most famous and highest paid fighters of all time – and did so by fighting everyone in his path.
His fights were national occasions in the Philippines, where life stopped for a few hours every time he went into battle. He would also become famous in America and spent long hours learning English so that he could easily do interviews in his second language.
Now there is nothing more to accomplish. No more belts, no more talk of a second fight with retiree Mayweather.
And certainly no fights at his age with Spence or Terence Crawford.
Luckily for Pacquiao, he has other options.
Already a senator in the Philippines, he raised the possibility of a presidential candidacy next year. So far the polls don’t favor him, but Pacquiao has been competitive in every bout he’s been in.
He will miss boxing, even if other fighters take his place. He was always fun to watch, still true to his sport.
But in the end, the only battle Pacquiao was ever going to win was with Father Time.
No one does.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for the Associated Press. Write to him at [email protected] or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
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