Manny Pacquiao: A Conundrum Of Options And Opponents

On November 10th 1983, Roberto Duran, 32, who had vacated his WBA junior middleweight title in order to challenge world middleweight champion Marvin Hagler, lost a 15 round unanimous decision and a shot to win a world title in his fourth division. In his last fight prior to fighting Hagler, Duran stopped undefeated WBA middleweight champ Davey Moore in the eighth round to win his third division title and was in the midst of a career resurgence. Due to his brilliant effort and him fighting Hagler on near even turns for a majority of the bout, Duran was given a shot at WBC junior middleweight champ Thomas Hearns. On June 15th 1984, Duran, who was less than two weeks away from turning 33, was knocked out by Hearns in the second round. Hearns’ right hand landed on Duran’s chin with so much force, Duran fell face forward and was out.

Manny Pacquiao is in the midst of a two-bout losing streak and is in dire need of a career resurgence. In June of 2012 he lost a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley and then six months later he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in the sixth round and like Duran went down face first. In two months Pacquiao will turn 35 and history is not on his side when it comes to fighters his age ever regaining their all world status after suffering back-to-back loses.

In the era of modern boxing we haven’t seen it happen many times where a superstar over 32 lost two big fights back-to-back like Roberto Duran and Manny Pacquiao, and then came back and go on to dominate again. Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins defied the trend. Yes, five years after losing to Hearns, Duran did conclusively beat Iran Barkley for the WBC middleweight title in what turned out to be Ring Magazine’s fight of the year. However, Duran lost his next fight to Sugar Ray Leonard and really wasn’t much of a factor in the title picture after that.

Then again, being in the title picture and dominating again are two entirely different things regarding Pacquiao. He could actually lose his next fight to Brandon Rios and still probably fight for a title in his next bout because of his name recognition, as it was the case with Duran. No one doubts that even at almost 35 Pacquiao can be a legitimate title holder again. The question is, does he have the fire inside to push himself the way he used to in order to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in boxing again? This is something no one knows or can even venture to guess. In all reality Manny won’t know himself for sure until he’s a couple weeks into training camp. As to whether he’s the fighter he was three or four years ago, we know that’s not the case. He’s clearly on the decline, it’s how much so?

Pacquiao is in such a conundrum right now. There’s a plethora of young tigers out there between 140/147 for him to test himself against, but what does he really have to gain or prove by beating Amir Khan, Devon Alexander, Lucas Matthysse, Danny Garcia, Robert Guerrero or Timothy Bradley in a rematch? Other than money, which ain’t a bad thing, I say not much.

It appears that if Pacquiao beats Brandon Rios this coming November, which isn’t a given, there’s really only three fights that make sense for him to take if he still has the desire to continue fighting, and it may even be just two, being that everyone who saw his fight with Bradley believes he won it and he may feel he has nothing to prove by fighting Bradley again. That leaves potential bouts with Floyd Mayweather and Juan Manuel Marquez as his best options and fights that would be easy for him to get up for. But are they plausible?

So Bradley beat Marquez this weekend. Sure a rematch with Bradley, assuming Manny beats Rios, would be an easy sell. But Bradley did better as the fight progressed versus Pacquiao during their fight, and it could well be a tougher go this time around against Bradley, especially if you believe that Manny has declined. Then again if he really blitzed Bradley, which is unlikely, he’d gain some needed momentum in making a case for a showdown with Mayweather.

As for getting Mayweather in the ring, Pacquiao needs to look impressive to rekindle interest in the fight, and understand that Floyd will make him do everything short of insisting that he fights handcuffed on fight night. Never has Manny been at such a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating with Mayweather like he is now. Losing consecutive fights to Bradley and Marquez killed the perception of him being the only fighter on the block who could really test Mayweather and perhaps beat him. Add to that Mayweather looked terrific in his last fight versus Saul Alvarez, so it’s easy to see that Manny will have no juice if he ever gets the chance to bargain for a clash with Mayweather.

It seems as if Pacquiao is just out there rudderless trying to find his footing again. His motivation for continuing to fight and who exactly he should fight are somewhat bewildering. He’s fighting history and age at a time when his perception and influence are severely compromised.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at



-leon30001 :

One piece of leverage for Manny re a Floyd fight, which no-one can take away unless he looks absolutely horrific re Rios, is that he brings far, far, FAR more money to the table than any other fighter, save maybe Wlad Klitschko! And I thought Floyd was all about the's in the name after all. So just FIGHT for C***t's sake let's get it over with!

-amayseng :

I feel your pain Leon30001, but floyd is never gonna make a pac fight. floyd makes so much money fighting guys who have very little chance of winning,(canelo, ghost, ortiz) that there is no way he takes a risky fight with pac who has the tools necessary to challenge floyd for his first loss... it is just not going to happen at this point.

-urone2 :

I thoght that Mayweather during the first negotiation had given in to all of Top Rank and Team Pacquioa's demands, only asking for the Olympic stlye drug testing. With all of the going in Pacquioa favor the fight still could not be made and the blame still was put in Mayweathers corner. People still seem to believe that Mayweather doesn't want to fight Pacquioa, I think its more like a pride thing. Where a Mayweather was willing to accept all terms and ask for one concession but was denied. Now holding most of the cards Mayweather is not willing to give anything, it just a matter of pride at this point. I like Manny Pacquioa but hate his fan base, Manny is a great fighter even if some of his greatness was manufactured. I'm not one to turn a blind eye to any of this, just like I'm a big Mayweather fan, but the guys an a-hole the boxes great. Mayweather also ducked Paul Williams, uncle Roger said that it would be a tough fight to win. I still think Bradley out worked Pacquioa in their fight and Marquez won 3 of his 4 fights with Pacquioa. As it all works out it just a matter of my opinion, it what i believe to be my true opinion. Oh, one more thing I truely believe that Bob Arum was the true road block in Mayweather/Pacquioa as he was in Mayweather/Correlas and De La Hoya/Trinadad. It's just that Mayweather and De La Hoya forced Arum to make the fights because they not Arum were getting their name ran through the mud.

-The Shadow :

You're kinda right. Mayweather never ducked Williams, though. In fact, all of the guys people claim Mayweather has ducked, for every case of ducking, I can give you valid reasons why they're wrong. But yes, Bob Arum was in the way of any fight he could've made with Mayweather. We all would do the same. It's all about the money.

-Radam G :

When is the "Quote of Note" going to change? Holla!

-The Shadow :

Great article on physiology, Manny and how he could move up in weight without A-side meth:

-Radam G :

@at The Shadow, interestng article. Back in the day, B-Sug and I went at it about Da Manny being able to come up in weight because of bone mass and size. I've told everybodee and dey momma in this Universe that height matters less than mass. Da Manny's legs and wrists are heavyweight like in size. In other words, I basically explained to Universe that it was a Pinoy's innate built, not A-side meth. Holla!

-The Shadow :

@at The Shadow, interestng article. Back in the day, B-Sug and I went at it about Da Manny being able to come up in weight because of bone mass and size. I've told everybodee and dey momma in this Universe that height matters less than mass. Da Manny's legs and wrists are heavyweight like in size. In other words, I basically explained to Universe that it was a Pinoy's innate built, not A-side meth. Holla!
You guys got some insane calves. Yeah, Manny is a unique specimen. He's always had HUGE legs, like many Pinoys I know. Even Buboy's calves are monstrous, supposedly (or so Freddie Roach told me; I really don't know). But yes, bone density matters more. That's why JMM isn't as effective at 147. He looked like one of those guys you see in the gyms that only works out for vanity purposes: Big arse muscular upper body with skinny legs. He was so top-heavy, he looked like Pam Anderson. It's the same with Floyd Mayweather. If you looked at his density vs. Canelo's, you could tell that he was much smaller -- though not shorter -- than Cinnamon. And it's another reason he doesn't knock people down as much. In the lighter weights, the pull-counter would flatten foes. Back to Manny, his heavyweight density allows him to pack on weight and still pack a proper punch. He would be a puncher even at middleweight, I think, if his frame would allow it. That's another reason Bradley is so freakish. Normal density, it would seem, average punching power, yet big feet and heavy as hell when he's not cycling.

-The Shadow :

Pardon me, I meant cycling as in being on a cycle outside of training camp, getting in shape. Like Lance Armstrong.

-donputo69 :

What's sup my peeps....Just passing thru to say what's good....Hope everybody is ok....Holla Back!!!

-Radam G :

Whadup, Da Don? Stay and holla for a minute. Great to hear from! Holla!

-donputo69 :

Everything good Brother Radam G....Staying out of trouble lol....