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Henry Liao

Pacquiao: Time to Retire

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A part of the Filipino pride in me was badly bruised when world boxing icon Manny Pacquiao was knocked out cold by his Mexican arch nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez seconds before the end of the sixth round of their fourth meeting in the ring yesterday afternoon (Manila time) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The solid blow to his neck, which came at the 2:58 mark of the sixth round of the 12-round non-title bout, could be termed as a “lucky punch.” Yet it was a punch that wrecked thousands of Filipino ships and was so loud that it was heard by millions of people around the world.

The blow broke the hearts of the heroes-challenged Filipino nation as a whole. To me, Pacquiao’s debacle was as devastating as the one the Pinoys felt when martyred Ninoy Aquino was mercilessly slain at the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983.

After five rounds, Pacquiao was slightly ahead in the score sheets of the three judges, 47-46, and became more aggressive in search for an early stoppage till the late stages of the sixth when he was stunned by that hard punch to his neck (where some sensitive nerves are located) in the final seconds of the round. The blow was so strong – perhaps even stronger than in scale than the earthquake that shook Japan Friday afternoon – that Pacquiao kissed the canvas, falling like a log and laying motionless for nearly 30 seconds. There were unsubstantiated reports that Pacman lost his consciousness during the time.

This fourth meeting between Pacquiao and Marquez in the last eight years was decisively in favor of the 5-foot-7, 39-year-old warrior from Mexico City after three previous confrontations were deemed “inconclusive,” at least from the viewpoint of the Doubting Thomases like JMM, who even claimed that he had won all three regardless what the judges’ scores showed. (Officially, the results from the three previous encounters were 2-0-1 win-loss-draw in favor of the 5-foot-6 Filipino icon. Pacquiao won via a split decision in their third meeting on November 12, 2011, which Marquez showed much disgust and hinted at retirement.)

Yesterday, bereft of any controversy, a bloodied JMM beat Pacquiao fair and square in their fourth bout.

Leading to Pacquiao’s second consecutive setback, coming as it was after a controversy-filled 12-round split decision loss to unbeaten American challenger Timothy Bradley also at the MGM Grand Garden Arena last June 9 that forced Pacquiao to surrenderd his World Boxing Organization welterweight title in the process, there were already telltale signs that Marquez might just upset the odds and beat the Pacman.

For the first time in his career, Marquez was able to deck Pacquiao in the third round. It was the first time that Pacquiao had kissed the floor since since September 17, 1999 by Thai challenger Medgoen Lukchaopormasak in the second defense of his World Boxing Council flyweight crown in Thailand . Even before the fight, Pacman was already stripped of his title for failing to meet the weight limit. The Pacman was knocked down several times during the fight before being KOed in three rounds.

Pacquiao got back by also knocking down Maruez in the fifth round (his fifth overall – thrice in 2004 and once in 200 to regain the upperhand in the judges score cards.

Then came the fatal sixth round when Pacquiao was caught by a lucky punch and suffered his first KO loss since that September 17, 1999 debacle.

Pacquiao, who turns 34 on December 17, wore a T-shirt with the words “Finished Business” and I thought he was hinting at retirement. Then in a post-fight interview, he declared he would fight again (after some rest, actually compulsory since there is a boxing rule that a fighter must take a vacation, as long as six months, once he suffers a KO).

My unsolicited advice, which I gave out as early as last year, is for Pacquiao to now hang up his gloves. Sure he has a contract with Top rank promoter Bob Arum until 2014, but Mommy Dionesia’s plea (for him to retire) must not go unheeded either. After Pacquiao’s stunning loss to Marquez, Dionesia appeared on local television to blame his son’s loss to his conversion to another religion and asked Arum to stop acting like a slave master in continuing to promote Pacquiao fights, saying “Hindi hayop ang anak ko, tao siya.”

No more Pacquiao-Marquez V please. Pacquiao should quit when the quitting still is good. At the moment, he has not suffered any major injuries – which is very, very good. But why wait till one suffers a debilitating injury before calling it quits. I shudder to think the case of all-time boxing great Muhammad Ali, who now suffers from Parkinson’s disease due to the various blows he had taken to his body and head throughout his colorful career in the 1960s and 1970s.

Pacquiao, who also moonlights as the congressman from the province of Sarangani, no longer has to prove anything in professional boxing.

He was once the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world and until now, he is the only boxer ever to win title belts in seven weight divisions.

If he ever were to box again, it is only for monetary considerations. Then again, he and his family are already financially stable for another generation or two.

Pacquiao has made the Filipino race proud for over a decade now.

It’s time that he rewards himself (and his mom and loved ones) with a ring retirement. Not in the future, but rather now when the quitting is still good.

God bless Pacquiao.

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