Additional discus-sions on the controversial decision Australian Jeff Horn received in his recent 12-round brawl with Manny Pacquiao for the WBO welterweight title will only be a waste of saliva. Amid the vigorous (and even profanity-laced) howls and protests, the head honchos of the WBO, in the absence of compelling evidence suggesting fraud and corruption, will not reverse the decision and simply let the fighters settle the issue among themselves, preferably by way of a rematch which is provided for in their contract.
A more interesting angle to discuss is the future of Pacquiao in boxing in the aftermath of his shocking defeat. Even before the Horn fight, Pacquiao’s boxing career was already walking the thin line, with some pundits suggesting that he needed nothing less than an eye-popping win over Horn to salvage it. Pacquiao has not scored a knockout since 2009 and his pay-per-view numbers have taken a noticeable dip since his 12-round stinker with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in 2015.
Horn, a boxing newbie who offered a face-first style, was supposed to be Pacquiao’s ticket back to the limelight; a chance to prove the naysayers wrong. Pacquiaio’s camp felt so confident going into the Horn fight that trainer Freddie Roach was overheard talking about a possible rematch with Mayweather for his next outing. Alas, Horn stunned everybody with a bloody unanimous decision win. While many (this writer included) believe Pacquiao did enough to win, there are those who described the Filipino’s performance as “shopworn.” There were occasions in the fight when Pacquiao looked every inch the 38-year-old, 68-fight veteran of the fight game. Even if Pacquiao was awarded the verdict, his performance would have still merited criticism.
The window of opportunity for Pacquiao, closing fast before the Horn fight, now appears to be completely shut with the unexpected defeat. A lucrative rematch with Mayweather is definitely gone; ditto the prospect of a showdown with undefeated American Terence Crawford. Pacquiao can only go as far as exercising the rematch clause with Horn in the hope of salvaging whatever is left of his once impregnable reputation. The only other choice is for Pacquiao is to call it day as he really has nothing more to prove. Truth be told, Pacquiao had sealed his legacy long before the Horn fight. In fact, not a few believe he is already overstaying in the sport, which is very risky considering that there are many young guns looking to make a name off him.
Pacquiao’s commitment to the fight game has been an issue from the moment he dipped his fists into the political jar and followed it up with other extra-curricular activities. He started taking pity on opponents, treating them like they were his constituents. As a fistic observer once said, a boxer’s greatest sin is to develop a conscience in the ring. In the case of Pacquiao, he became human and grew old in the ring.
But the proud warrior that he is, Pacquiao is likely to give it one more go, which means pursuing a rematch with Horn probably late this year. Pacquiao will still get good money for a rematch and, more importantly, a chance to cap his career with a victory. It will not be easy as Horn figures to be more confident the next time around. Pacquiao will still be the favorite, but the odds will no longer be as wide as before as he will be older and arguably more arm-weary by the time the bell rings for the rematch. It really does not make any sense anymore, but leave it to Pacquiao to step out of the ring on his own terms.
Sadly, in boxing, it is the fighter who is the last to know.
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