BRISBANE, Australia: Manny Pacquiao’s trainer advised the Filipino legend to quit boxing Monday after his sensational defeat to unheralded Australian Jeff Horn.
While controversy raged over the scoring of Sunday’s World Boxing Organization welterweight title bout in Brisbane, after all three judges awarded it to unbeaten Horn, there were doubts whether 38-year-old Pacquiao would return for a possible rematch.
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach said he would consider advising Pacquiao to retire after a glittering 22-year professional career in which he won world titles at an unprecedented eight weight divisions.
“I’m going to talk to Manny about maybe calling it a day, maybe this is it,” Roach said.
Given no chance by most observers, the 29-year-old Horn’s ultra-aggressive style rocked Pacquiao, with the three judges scoring the fight 117-111, 115-113 and 115-113 to the Australian before 51,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium.
Pacquiao, (59-7-2) who insisted on a Brisbane rematch as a clause in his contract for the fight, declared however that he would “absolutely” return for a rematch.
“We have a clause for a rematch. No problem,” Pacquiao said in the ring after the judges’ decision.
But Australian boxing great and three-time world champion Jeff Fenech also called for Pacquiao, who retired briefly last year, to hang up his gloves for good this time.
“If they let Manny fight again, that’s stupid,” Fenech said.
“He should go relax and enjoy the money he has made. He’s got nothing to prove. Retire.
“Jeff fought the right fight and took Manny to places he’d not been before … he made it a bit dirty.”
A sense of Pacquiao’s declining powers is that the Philippines senator hasn’t stopped an opponent in eight years.
Roach however called for an investigation into the scoring of American judge Waleska Roldan.
She had the bout 117-111 to Horn, giving Pacquiao only three of the 12 rounds , despite Horn finishing the fight badly bruised and with a shut right eye.
Horn ‘out on his feet’
According to CompuBox statistics, Pacquiao landed almost twice as many punches as Horn – 182 to 92. Judges American Chris Flores and Argentine Ramon Cerdan both thought it was closer, but Horn had edged the fight 115-113.
“I respect the judges’ decision,” Pacquiao said. “He was much tougher than I expected. Much, much tougher.”
Pacquiao told Philippines television: “We thought that we won this fight.”
However, Top Rank veteran supremo Bob Arum, who was ringside, felt the win was fair. “It could have gone either way,” he said.
“A couple of close rounds, but you can’t argue with the result. I scored a lot of the early rounds for Jeff. Then I had Manny coming back in the middle.
“The 12th round, Jeff really won. If you give Manny the 11th, you have it a draw. You give Jeff the 11th, it’s 7-5.”
Horn’s father, Jeff Sr., revealed after the fight that he had been ready to throw in the towel after the brutal ninth round.
His son had been battered by Pacquiao and blood was streaming from a nasty cut over Horn’s right eye.
As American referee Mark Nelson made his way to Horn’s corner to ask them whether they wanted to stop the fight, Jeff Sr. feared the worst.
“He was dead in the water in round nine, he was gone,” Jeff Sr. said.
“I was very worried. If I had a towel I may have thrown it myself in the ninth. I looked at his eyes and I thought he was out on his feet. I really thought he was in danger of getting hurt in round nine.
“I didn’t expect him to come back like he did in round 10.”
Pacquiao’s colleagues in the Senate were mixed on whether he should seek a rematch or retire from boxing.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday said it was time for the boxing legend to retire and focus on becoming a full-time public servant while Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the latter must “recalibrate” his priorities.
In a tweet, Lacson said, “Lesson learned: It is best to leave the stage while the audience is applauding.”
“Although it is his decision to call it quits or still go on fighting inside the ring, as a friend and colleague who cares for him and his future, I sincerely think it is time that he consider being a full-time public servant. In fact, I remember giving him the same advice last year before his Jesse Vargas fight in November 2016,” Lacson said.
Gatchalian said that based on Pacquiao’s performance, “Manny can still fight” a few more matches. “At 38 years old, I don’t consider him old for the sport.”
However, he noted that Pacquiao is also a senator of the republic, aside from being a professional boxer.
“Both responsibilities are mentally and physically demanding. I think he needs to recalibrate himself to adjust to the demands of both responsibilities,” Gatchalian said.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara defended Pacquiao’s performance as a senator. “I see a lot of people criticizing him on socmedia (social media) and to be fair to him since becoming a senator he has had a good attendance record at sessions, with his fights coming during the recess times of Congress.”
Senators Ralph Recto and Antonio Trillanes 4th do not want to influence Pacquiao’s decision insofar as his boxing career is concerned.
“With regard to Manny retiring, that’s his call. He knows what’s best for him, his family, the sport and his fans,” Recto said.
Trillanes said: “For as long as he believes that he can still fight, just do it and continue to make us proud.”
However, Recto and Trillanes believe Pacquiao was the “true” winner in the “Battle of Brisbane.”
“Those judges must be fired from boxing. Clearly, Manny won. All those who watched the fight know Senator Manny was robbed of victory,” Recto said.
Trillanes said: “I remain a big fan of Manny Pacquiao and I agree with the general observation that the judges stole that victory from him.”
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said Pacquiao has “nothing more” to prove. “He is one of the best boxers ever! He is a living legend of the sport!”
“As a friend, of course, I get worried. Boxing is a dangerous sport. Every time he has a fight, I can’t breathe until the fight is over. It’s a different feeling if it’s your friend fighting in the ring,” Ejercito said.