PACQUIAO WATCH: What’s next?

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 July) – Normally, at this stage, negotiations for Manny Pacquiao’s next fight should already be within the realm of fight purses and pay per view sharing. But as of this writing nothing has been penciled about Pacquiao’s next fight. Not even his possible opponent, although a November date has already been arranged.


Top Rank’s Bob Arum is set to fly to Manila next week to confer with his prized ward, who looks like he is intent on biding his time after a controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley in June. The Bradley fight was the second longest in between fight for Pacquiao who last fought Juan Manuel Marquez prior to that in November 2011 – a lull of almost seven months. It was only topped by exactly eight months between his Antonio Margarito and Joshua Clottey fights which also started a succession of fights that lasted the full distances.


Pacquiao has been limiting his ring appearance at two fights a year since 2009. The last time he fought three times or more in a year was the year before that, in 2008, when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez (2nd fight), David Diaz and Oscar de la Hoya. The De la Hoya fight redefined his career from a mere top tier fighter to as a crossover boxing superstar.


It is likely Pacquiao will have another fight early in 2013 after his fall fight this year. Pacquiao will make the most of these two fights as Philippine elections are scheduled for May next year. He had already declared he is stepping down as a member of the House of Representative and will run for governor in Sarangani. With Pacquiao everything is unpredictable, however.


But with a dearth in big money fights, Pacquiao could be fighting for a little lesser money since the Miguel Cotto fight or even the Ricky Hatton bout.


Although nobody really believed he lost the Bradley fight, some of Pacquiao’s bargaining power may have been compromised by the bum decision and the relatively poor result of the pay per view proceeds. His Bradley fight reportedly failed to top the one million PPV buys – the second time it failed to reach that number in eight fights that dated back to the De la Hoya match. The other fight that failed to register a million PP buys was the boring victory over Clottey.


His long vacation to Israel and France after his Bradley loss was also timed when Congress was in recess. In the absence of any excitement and hype for his next fight, Pacquiao stories have been relegated to the inside pages which have also alarmed many Pacquiao watchers.


Could it be that Pacquiao’s popularity is already waning or is it because the string of uneventful fights, including a controversial victory over Marquez in their third fight, has taken some luster on his shining star? Is Manny, as a boxer, also already on the decline?


It is hard to imagine that at his age, at 33, Pacquiao has burned himself out.


Could it also be possible that the distractions that have accompanied all his life while in preparation for a fight have finally taken their toll and that Manny has already lost the zeal and passion for the sports that brought him fame and fortune?


Only Pacquiao can figure that out.


But as growing and divergent personal, political and, now, spiritual and religious entourage competing and grabbing for his attention, even the master of organized chaos will eventually break down.


Resentment is reportedly growing among his longtime political advisers and personal friends over the sudden influx of preachers in Manny’s entourage, some of them camping out at his mansion long after he was gone for training.


Perhaps it is time for Pacquiao to listen to his longtime coach and father figure Freddie Roach. It is time to drop and temper, even temporarily, his political and religious activities during trainings if he is to recover from his succession of poor performances. His 33-year-old body can only take too much physical beating and distraction.


Otherwise, it is time to quit boxing.


(Edwin G. Espejo writes for