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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Prioritizing Manny's agenda

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
20 Jan 2017



Top Rank CEO Bob Arum recently said he’s fixing four fights for WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao this year. I wonder if Arum has forgotten that Pacquiao is now a Senator and boxing is no longer his primary preoccupation. Arum may have also forgotten that Pacquiao is 38 and hasn’t logged four fights in a year since 2001 or 15 years ago.

Pacquiao is young for his age, no doubt about it, and performs in the ring like he’s 28. But the reality is he’s not getting any younger and with 67 fights under his belt, his body isn’t like it was 10 years ago. You can’t turn back the hands of time and the wear and tear of a long career will eventually take a toll. The most difficult decision that a fighter has to make is when to hang up his gloves. The decision to retire can’t be postponed indefinitely. One more fight, one more hit beyond what is tolerable could be treading on dangerous waters.

Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach retired from the ring in 1986 at the age of 26. He lost six of his last seven fights. When he was beaten by Bobby Chacon in March 1985, Roach went on to figure in five more fights that year. One of the losses was a seventh round knockout to Greg Haugen. He probably should’ve retired after the Haugen bout but kept on fighting. A year after he retired, Roach was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome caused by taking too many blows to the head.

Muhammad Ali was a month shy of 40 when he was badly outclassed by Trevor Berbick in his last fight in 1981. Ali confessed that the ordeal of facing Joe Frazier in the “Thrilla In Manila” in 1975 was the closest thing to death he’d ever experienced. If Frazier hadn’t surrendered on his trainer Eddie Futch’s advice before the start of the 15th and last round, Ali probably would’ve thrown in the towel. Ali never fully recovered from the punishment that he took in that fight. Yet, he soldiered on to log 10 more fights and along the way, was brutally battered by former sparmate Larry Holmes who scored a 10th round stoppage. In the Holmes fight, two of the three judges didn’t give Ali a round. Two years after he retired, Ali was confirmed to be suffering from Parkinson’s, a disease that eventually led to his death at the age of 74 last year. He coped with the disease for 32 years.

****

In 2001, Pacquiao was a young man in a hurry and had four bouts. He stopped Tetsutora Senrima in the fifth round at the Ynares Center in Antipolo in February, halted Wethya Sakmuangklang in six in Kidapawan in April, knocked out Lehlo Ledwaba in six to capture the IBF superbantamweight title in Las Vegas in June and battled Agapito Sanchez to a sixth round technical split draw in San Francisco in November. Since then, Pacquiao has figured in three fights in 2003, 2006 and 2008, two fights in 10 years and just one in 2013 and 2015. To goad Pacquiao, now a Senator and in the twilight of his boxing career, into logging four fights this year wouldn’t only be cruel but also crazy.

Pacquiao has nothing left to prove as a boxer. Five years after retiring for good, he’ll be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. That’s guaranteed. Regardless of how he performs in his last fights leading up to his retirement, Pacquiao will always be remembered as one of the greatest fighters who ever lived. His record of winning world titles in eight different weight classes will never be matched nor surpassed. There will never be another Pacquiao.

Arum said he’d like Pacquiao to go on a world tour before retiring. It appears that the first stop could be Australia against unbeaten Jeff Horn in April. Then, there’s a fight in Russia in July. Arum once singled out Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko as a future Pacquiao opponent even if the two-time Olympic gold medalist is a superfeatherweight. Arum said Lomachenko, who holds the WBO 130-pound title and won the WBO featherweight crown in his third pro outing, could move up in weight to face Pacquiao. Lomachenko, of course, is widely popular in Russia. His record is 7-1, with 5 KOs.

Another possible stop is London and Arum said a fight could be staged in September with IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook a likely opponent. Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn and Arum have been in contact about the fight. Brook, 30, has a 36-1 record, with 25 KOs, and is coming off a fifth round knockout loss to Kazakhstan’s Gennady Golovkin in a bid for the WBC/IBF/IBO middleweight titles.
****

Finally, there is the swan song against WBC/WBO superlightweight champion Terence Crawford who has a 30-0 record, with 21 KOs. Crawford, 29, has been described by Roach as a young Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Last July, Crawford decked former Pacquiao sparmate Viktor Postol twice enroute to scoring a win by unanimous decision. A month ago, Crawford stopped John Molina, Jr. in eight.

There is no historic significance for Pacquiao to fight Horn or Lomachenko or Brook or Crawford. At this point in Pacquiao’s life, the remaining fights in his career should only enhance his legacy. Why push Pacquiao to face much younger fighters? It’s an unnecessary risk. Last November, Pacquiao took on a much younger Jessie Vargas because there was a significant purpose for it. Pacquiao wanted the WBO welterweight title and got it.

In my view, Pacquiao should limit himself to just two more fights before retiring----one in April and another in November because the Senate won’t be in session in both months. The “legacy” opponents for Pacquiao could only be Juan Manuel Marquez and Mayweather. Pacquiao was knocked out by Marquez in their fourth meeting in 2012 and surely, he’d like to get even in a fifth encounter. Marquez is now 43 and hasn’t fought since beating Mike Alvarado nearly three years ago but the word is he’s back in the gym training for one last “retirement” fight. An April showdown between Pacquiao and Marquez would be perfect for the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena.

As for the farewell fight in November, that could be against Mayweather in Las Vegas. It’ll be the last big payday for both fighters and only Las Vegas can generate the kind of money to justify a rematch. Pacquiao would like to pay back Mayweather for the loss in 2015 and with no shoulder injury, could be the first man to blemish Money’s 49-0 record.

What Pacquiao intends to do as a boxer will depend on his priorities, not on his talks with Arum. Pacquiao’s his own man and as a Senator of the republic, he’ll weigh his options carefully before deciding how to end his illustrious boxing career. Whatever he decides, the Filipino nation will be behind him all the way.


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