Pacquiao’s return: Long climb back to the top

Edwin G. Espejo

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Manny Pacquiao is eager to return to the ring but a long and tough road lies ahead

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao is in a hurry.

He wants to immediately redeem himself from two successive losses, the last of which was an emphatic knockout defeat from longtime nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez.

His camp insists the congressman from Sarangani is raring and aching to go after a long vacation in Israel where he cloistered himself with his family, away from the maddening coterie of friends and hangers-on, which hopefully did his health some good.

Pacquiao was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for 120 days, 90 of which he is barred from doing any contact activity related to boxing. The 120-day suspension effectively slammed the door for an April fight for Pacquiao in Las Vegas.

Fight outside US?

Now, his camp is looking at three possible countries where Pacquiao can start his long climb back to the top of boxing world.

Singapore, Macau and Dubai have been mentioned as possible venues for his next fight, possibly in April. 
These places serve double purpose for Pacquiao. 

One, they  offer the Filipino boxing champion some tax relief.  And, more importantly, they enable Pacquiao to conveniently skirt the Nevada suspension.

Fighting and finding a suitable opponent for an early return in the ring for Pacquiao should be hassle free.  But guaranteeing another huge pay day may not be that easy.

Long climb 

Pacquiao will have to take a considerable pay cut if he cannot fight in Las Vegas, where all roads to big money fights lead to.

But a good tune-up fight for a September fifth fight with Marquez is not bad if Pacquiao wants to exact revenge from the Mexican.

The Marquez loss was not only a devastating blow to Pacquiao’s air and aura of invincibility.  It also wrought havoc to his plans leading to eventual retirement before the 2016 Philippine general elections when he plans to run for senator.

More importantly, the loss took away some sheen from his lucrative endorsement deals.  Nobody wants to see their logo emblazoned on the seat of his pants the way Pacquiao laid face down and motionless in that Marquez defeat.  

Corporate sponsors will be having second thoughts about striking a new deal with Pacquiao – especially if they keep replaying that punch that sent Pacquiao to dreamland.

Health problems?

In the aftermath, questions were raised about Pacquiao’s state of health although he has been cleared of any concussions and serious brain damage by Nevada health officials following the KO loss. 

But many too, fear the cumulative effect of Pacquiao’s intense fights could lead to long term brain damage, one that will slowly affect his motor skills long or shortly after he retires from boxing.

The business side of boxing in Pacquiao is dictating that he continues to strike while the proverbial iron is still hot. Pacquiao himself cannot wait any longer to prove he still has what it gets to be a marquee fighter and a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr may yet cap his Hall of Fame bound career.

Pacquiao has done it before – come back from decisive defeats.  Two of those defeats, against Rustico Torrecampo and Medgeon Singsurat, were knockouts and he rose to become a more devastating fighter.   

His decision loss to Erik Morales even propelled him to greater heights by avenging the only loss that he was decisively outfought. He routed Morales in two rematches – each of those revenges ended up in stoppage victories.

Then came that Marquez debacle.  Forget about that Timothy Bradley highway stickup early in 2012.

There is no doubt Pacquiao will again rise to challenge.  But time is no longer on his side.  The window of opportunity is closing in.

No one can blame Pacquiao for being in a hurry. –

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