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Manny Pacquiao: A Victim of Boxing Politics?

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Reports of Manny Pacquiao’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Despite a face-first knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez last December and a frustrating, controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley six months before that, Pacquiao’s days as a legitimate, pound-for-pound force are not over.

As a matter of fact, the eight-division world champ and Filipino icon is probably just one big win away from rejoining Floyd Mayweather at the top of boxing’s short list of elite players.

Those who truly recall his last bout with Marquez should remember a Pacquiao who had a bloodied Marquez legitimately hurt shortly before getting cracked with a perfectly-timed right hand at the end of the sixth round.

Pacquiao, on that night, actually looked sharper than at any point since his dismantling of Miguel Cotto in 2009. Many observers felt that a battered Marquez, who was starting to shows signs of wear and tear, could actually be stopped within the next few rounds. Of course, now, it’s a moot point as Marquez showed himself to have the wherewithal to close the show. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Manny had looked like THE Manny for the first time in a long time.

Now, depending on which media reports you choose to believe, Pacquiao may be just one bad showing away from a forced early retirement.

“If you lose three in a row it’s your time,” trainer Freddie Roach told ESPN. “He’s up there in age, I’ve got to keep a close eye on him. It’s part of my job to protect him. I will do the right thing, I don’t want him to be a stepping-stone.”

The implication is that if Pacquiao should falter against young, hard-charging Brandon Rios on November 24 in Macau, then the end has likely come. At the very least, a Pacquiao with three straight losses would have to be placed in the fallen star category.

And if either turns out to be the case, Pacquiao would be correct in pointing the finger at those who were supposed to have his best professional interest in mind. A 34-year-old Pacquiao, still of sound mind and body, being forced from the sport would have little to do with the fighter and lots to do with the business maneuverings done in his name behind the scenes.


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