LAS VEGAS – Is this the beginning of the end for Manny Pacquiao?
The big question was raised during the post-fight conference Saturday at the MGM Grand after the Filipino boxing hero suffered an unimaginable loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.
It was left unanswered although Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, admitted that yes, it could be the end for boxing’s only eight-time world champion in as many weight divisions.
“It could be possible retirement or possible rematch. I don’t know,” said Roach.
In the last days leading to this fight, Pacquiao and Marquez agreed that this will be their last following three fights as close and as controversial.
“We need to settle down a bit. It depends on how he feels,” Roach added.
It was the second straight loss for Pacquiao following the highly-questionable decision against undefeated American Timothy Bradley last June, also at the MGM.
Before losing to Bradley, the Filipino superstar had a string of 15 straight wins, including huge wins against certified greats like Oscar dela Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.
The last time he lost before that amazing streak was in March of 2005 when he took on Mexico’s Erik Morales and dropped a bloody decision.
Most Pacquiao fans are not used to see him lose, and certainly to see him down on the canvas, motionless, totally out.
It was like Ricky Hatton all over again except that this time it was Pacquiao down on the canvas.
Pacquiao had suffered two knockouts in the past, the first against Filipino Rustico Torrecampo in 1996 then against Thailand’s Meggoen Singsurat in 1999.
But none of those knockouts can compare to this.
It was lights out for Pacquiao the moment Marquez, his 39-year-old nemesis, hit him with a perfect right straight with only a second remaining in the sixth round.
And it was the type of a knockout that should make Pacquiao, who’s pushing 34, and those around him think of his immediate future.
Is it time to retire? Should he keep on fighting?
Pacquiao, now a congressman and a Bible ambassador, should think hard on this.
“It’s complicated,” said Roach, who came to the post-fight press conference minus his fighter who had to be taken to the hospital for some safety checks.
“We will see,” said Roach, who first met Pacquiao as a hungry one-handed fighter in 2001.
Together they formed one of the great partnerships boxing has ever seen, one that could compare to the one Muhammad Ali and the late Angelo Dundee had.
“It happens,” said the five-time Trainer of the Year of the shocking loss.
Roach is not giving up on Pacquiao. No one should.
It’s not supposed to end this way.