In the grand scheme of things, the winner and loser of a prizefight is really not that big of deal. There are things in life that are much more important and that are much bigger deals. But this weekend’s rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley has life changing consequences for the loser – particularly if that loser is Pacquiao.
The general consensus is that if the 35-year-old Pacquiao comes up short on Saturday night his boxing career is over. A loser in 2 of his last 3, he was knocked cold by Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth fight. While Pacquiao himself has not addressed what his future will hold should he lose, his trainer Freddie Roach has stated publicly this week that “retirement is an option.”
When asked yesterday at the final pre-fight press conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas what he would do if he lost to Bradley again, Pacquiao smiled and answered like the politician that he is by saying, “This fight is very important to me and my boxing career. You never know, nobody knows, only God knows what’s going to be.”
While the fight is important to Pacquiao it is also important to all of those in his employ. Pacquiao has a cadre of abettors, hangers-on and gophers that surround him. Roach, his longtime trainer has earned millions while with Pacquiao and gained worldwide acclaim. Bob Arum’s Top Rank who promotes Pacquiao has also seen a substantial increase in earnings as they developed Pacquiao into an international superstar that fills arenas and sells pay-per-view subscriptions.
Pacquiao’s scenario most closely resembles that of Muhammad Ali who hung on as long as his body and mind allowed him to. Ali also had a small army of personnel that depended on him and whispered in his ear that he should continue his boxing career even after being humiliated by Larry Holmes in their 1980 championship bout. Then of course there is the issue of money or lack thereof for Pacquiao. Despite earning in the neighborhood of a quarter billion dollars from fights and endorsements and other business ventures there are rumors that he is insolvent.
Arum, who promoted many of Ali’s bouts, has seen thousands of fighters come and go during his 48 year-long promotional career. His perspective is worth noting and is an important one as it relates to what happens if Pacquiao loses on Saturday. Much of Arum’s fortunes rise and fall along with Pacquiao’s and when asked yesterday for his thoughts on the matter he was surprisingly matter-of-fact with his response.
“Whether or not Manny continues to fight just depends on how he lost,” Arum said Wednesday. “If he gets hurt or his health is endangered, then yes, I would make an attempt to have him retire. But, if he suffers a decision loss to Bradley and he wasn’t hurt and he puts up a good fight and a good effort, I probably wouldn’t recommend that he retire.”
There have been lots of other big fights for Manny Pacquiao. But after fighting as a pro since 1995, winning titles in numerous weight divisions and earning millions of dollars over 62 total bouts the outcome of Saturday’s bout will prove pivotal in the legend that has become Manny Pacquiao.