Fights with Canelo, Crawford await Pacquiao if he skips retirement
LAS VEGAS, USA – Manny Pacquiao's announcement that he'd retire after his upcoming third fight with Timothy Bradley Jr has been met by its fair share of skepticism. As fight night draws closer, even Pacquiao seems less sure.
“I don’t know yet because I’m not there yet so I don’t know what’s the feeling [of being retired],” Pacquiao said on Wednesday, April 6 (US time), when asked if he was sure that Saturday's fight would be his last.
Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 knockouts), a two-term congressman in his native Philippines, has promised to focus primarily on his political career ahead of the general elections on May 9, in which he is running for senator.
The skepticism is no slight against Pacquiao. Fighters in general are notorious for retiring and unretiring. To walk away from fighting at the peak of one’s earning potential after starting out fighting for little to no money is a tough decision to make.
For Pacquiao, who made $2 from his first fight and is guaranteed $20 million for his next pay-per-view match, that decision must be even harder. It’s a tradition among the best fighters that dates back to the introduction of gloves, with James J. Jeffries, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Floyd Mayweather Jr all returning from retirement with varied results.
Justin Fortune, the strength and conditioning coach who has worked on and off with Pacquiao since he first came to the United States in 2001, is wholly unconvinced that he’ll walk away after Saturday’s fight.
“This won’t be his last fight,” Fortune said with certainty. “Why stop when you’re on top of your game? He makes so much money. These are hard things to turn down.
“In boxing, you stop when you get hurt or when you’re not making money."
Pacquiao’s head trainer, Freddie Roach, who has guided Pacquiao since his upset victory over IBF junior featherweight champ Lehlohonolo Ledwaba in his US debut, would like to see Pacquiao hang around for two to 3 more fights. Roach's wish list includes WBO junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford, middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and – of course – a rematch with the recently retired Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“[Alvarez] is a challenge, a good fighter,” said Roach of the current WBC middleweight titleholder, who faces Amir Khan on May 7. “I know he’s big, might have to make a few stipulations on the weight and how much he can weigh after the next day. It may be doable.”
Roach says Arum had previously presented the fight to Roach. “I didn’t say no but I didn’t say yes either. I want to see how he does against Amir Khan, a boxer.”
The 37-year-old Pacquiao hasn’t looked in the gym like a boxer who needs to retire despite undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder after the Mayweather loss in May, and having lost 3 of his last 6 fights.
“He hasn’t diminished that much. He’s lost no speed and no power, and picked up a ton of experience,” said Fortune, who fought as a pro from 1990 to 2001 before returning for one more fight in 2009.
“Even if he did lose a little bit of speed, he’s still faster than anyone else out there.”
Alvarez (25) and Crawford (28) are much younger and in their physical prime. Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) has lost just once – to Mayweather in 2013 – while Crawford (28-0, 20 KOs) is undefeated and has won titles at 135 and 140 pounds.
Arum, for his part, would welcome future fights with Pacquiao under his Top Rank banner should he change his mind about walking away.
“There’s a lot of guys he can fight. He can fight Canelo maybe, he can fight Crawford. Those are the fights that come to mind,” said Arum.
Pacquiao isn’t interested in entertaining talk of prospective opponents for the time being. He still has to get through Saturday night.
“I want an explosive performance and to win convincingly to make the fans happy,” said Pacquiao. – Rappler.com
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