Manny Pacquiao has lost his WBO welterweight title in Australia against a former school teacher, Jeff Horn. The fight was a battle, with both fighters giving their all and creating a brilliant bout to for spectators. Pacquiao has legendary status in the sport and that will never be taken from him. However, the standard of his performances have of late slipped. In his last nine fights he has won five and lost four. Looking at his record before these fights he was 54 wins, 3 loses and 2 draws. Now at 38 years old and having heavy involvement in Filipino politics, is this the end of the ‘Pac-Man’s’ illustrious career?
It was back in 2012 when the decline began. Two defeats in six months dented Pacquiao’s aura of invincibility. First there was a split decision defeat against Timothy Bradley JR. The result was controversial and the majority of pundits at ring side had Pacquiao winning by a some distance. Two of the judges gave the fight to Bradley 115-113 and one to the ‘Pac-Man’ by the same score. Pacquiao looked genuinely shocked when the result was announced.
The next defeat in December of 2012 had no controversy surrounding it. A rivalry that had been burning for eight years came to a head in Las Vegas. Back in 2004 Pacquiao faced Juan Manuel Marquez at featherweight. The fight finished a draw solidifying the need for a rematch. It took four years for the rematch to materialise and Manny took the fight on a split decision at super featherweight. Three years later the pair met again this time up at welterweight. The third meeting ended in controversy however, as Marquez’s fans believed he won leading to chaos in the crowd and objects thrown towards the ring. Even though this was a majority decision victory which meant Marquez did not win the fight on any scored card (two judges gave the fight Manny and one scored it a draw) there was still a feeling the pair would meet again to search for a more conclusive victory. It came. After both fighters had been down earlier Marquez delivered the conclusive end that the rivalry had been searching for. Pacquiao was coming forward deep in the sixth round and Marquez ducked and let a huge right hand go. It landed flush and the ‘Pac-Man’ collapsed to the floor. Game over. KO victory for Marquez.
Pacquiao came back from the brutal knock-out to three straight unanimous decision victories. He beat Barndon Rios 11 months after the Marquez defeat. He reclaimed the WBO welterweight title and avenged defeat to Bradley five months later and defended it seven months later against then undefeated Chris Algieri.
This run brought about the fight all boxing fans wanted to say, just a little bit later than everybody would have wished. Floyd Mayweather, the greatest technical boxer of his generation would face Pacquiao – the man widely believed to have the style to beat him. Unfortunately, for a lot of fans the fight did not reach the level they expected. Mayweather boxed Manny for 12 rounds and completely outclassed the WBO champion. Pacquiao pushed forward and attempted to put the pressure on the American superstar but the defensive brilliance of ‘Money’ Mayweather negated anything the ‘Pac-Man’ could throw at him. The fight was seen as a farce as fans believed that Floyd had held the fight off until Pacquiao was past his best. The issues surrounding the fight and it taking place were probably present on both sides. It is simply the politics of boxing that stood in the way. It is difficult to blame either side too harshly.
The next move for the legendary boxer was to complete a trilogy with Bradley almost a year after the Mayweather defeat. Pacquiao claimed his second unanimous decision against the California born fighter. The two defeats accumulated by Bradley to Manny are still to date the only loses on the American’s record. This highlights how good Pacquiao performed in the two fights were he beat him. Later in the year Pacquiao took on Jessie Vargas in a wide decision on two of the judges card. It was a fantastic fight for Manny and he defended his WBO title he won back from Bradley in the previous fight.
After the defeat to Horn regardless of the questionable nature of the result, Pacquiao must look at his status in boxing. It must be a difficult call to decide enough is enough. Especially when you have climbed through weight classes, constantly proved people wrong and achieved as much as Manny has. While his quality may still be present, his consistency has clearly left him. The hard knock-out against Marquez must have taken a lot out of the veteran and his power is deteriorating. His last stoppage victory came back in 2009 against Miguel Cotto. Pacquiao has been a brilliant fighter to watch. In his prime he was quick, powerful and his ability to come forward and bully his opponent was a recipe for success. Now it is time for the legendary fighter from the Philippines to retire and leave us with the memories he created earlier in his career.