By Yannis Mihanos: The Manny Pacquiao I once knew used to be a tireless unstoppable force of nature leading his opponents to complete exhaustion. The Manny that I now see has changed not necessarily for the better. Pacquiao’s defeat at the hands of Australian champion and now new welterweight champion Jeff Horn earlier this month on July 2 was an unsuspected one and yet whoever watched that fight was kind of expecting it.
Horn (17-0, 11 KOs) fought the best fight of his life knowing that this was his big opportunity for a place in history. Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) since defeating Miguel Cotto in 2009 in explosive fashion, has become a different fighter. A fighter that no longer aims in destroying his opponents, but only outmatching them in more subtle ways with his unquestionable athletic skills.
Pacquiao’s level of athleticism and work ethic has allowed him to remain at top level, but his very aggressive days are clearly in the past. Against Horn, Pacquiao needed that old drive, that old aggressiveness to end the fight in the 9th round with a stoppage but he didn’t or couldn’t. Didn’t or couldn’t? That’s a good question but I honestly don’t have a direct answer, I can only guess what it might be.
Earlier in his career, Pacquiao had been involved in many wars. Who can forget Pacquiao’s classic four fights against Juan Manuel Marquez? Pacquiao, 38, has seen enough and hurt enough and to go down this road over and over hurts even more. Maybe he can’t or maybe he is tired of it who knows? And honestly who gives a damn except from Pacquiao himself and the people close to him.
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach is one who for sure gives a damn. Time and time again Freddie has tried to inspire Pacquiao to get back to that killer instinct but so far, he has failed. Oftentimes the killer instinct is created under adversities that now for Pacquiao no longer exist.
Despite the defeat to the 29-year-old Horn, Pacquiao remains top draw and he can still call the shots in negotiations. It is up to him to fight for a second time Horn or not.
As a champion, I believe something has gotten away, something has given up with Pacquiao. I say this because you can’t always be a nice guy, especially when you are the champion. If they don’t respect you, if they try to intimidate you and beat you with orthodox and unorthodox ways, as a champion you ought to respond. You should go out there and get what belongs to you before the others get it, that’s what true champions do. So sometimes you must be that roaring lion. If you can’t do that anymore it is time for you to go.
Like I said previously, Manny still calls the shots. Still most of the top names in the welterweight division and the boxing world want a crack at him.
Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum has never gone against him, but many of the recent fights were nothing more than tune up fights just to mention some of the names he has competed with: Brandon Rios, 3 x Tim Bradley, Chris Algieri with an exception of course the big fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2015
Pacquiao has said many times that he loves boxing, that’s the reason why he quickly reversed his decision to retire but now he is again at a crossroad. Boxing clinics are required when you are at an elite level but it is also required to fight like your life is at stake at critical times.
Manny has my biggest respect as a champion and personality in boxing and beyond but this situation he is in sucks and he is the only man capable to get out in one piece.