No call slip for Father Time

Lito A. Tacujan (The Philippine Star) - July 23, 2019 - 12:00am


MANILA, Philippines — As the day stirred into life the morning after another Vegas bash, a question remained a pesky presence in the mind of Team Pacquiao.

“Is it time?” someone asked quietly, trying not to dampen the aftermath of  world-wide celebration of Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao over the tall, irreverent trash-talking Keith “One Time”  Thurman at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Saturday.

It was another virtuoso performance by the Hall of Fame shoo-in that further firmed up his claim to greatness.

A torrid left-right combination in the first round sent Thurman to the canvas for a knockdown that gave Pacquiao the momentum and the upperhand in the next five rounds.

“We worked on that combination hard during our workout,” said trainer Freddie Roach.

But the 40-year-old Pacquiao began to fade in the middle rounds and Thurman, 30, seized the initiative, survived a rib-crackling body shot in the 10th and regained his confidence to lose by split decision. 

The knockdown was the key. It brought back to mind the three knockdowns Pacman had inflicted on Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in their first showdown in May 2004 that ended in a controversial draw.

But it ignited a seething rivalry that ended with the Filipino champ twitching on the floor from a vicious knockout dealt by Marquez in the sixth round of their fourth and last face-off in 2012.

The trauma of that stoppage brought out talks of retirement for the eight-division champ, the way he did with brutal beatings over Oscar  dela Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Erik Morales, to name a few.

“But he decided to fight on,” said HBO boxing guru Larry Merchant, allaying fears that the knockout would leave a psychological scar on Pacquiao.

“Boxers sort of expected a kayo. Its in their mindset. But seeing Manny go down gets young fighters to thinking they could do it too. That’s a bigger problem, ‘’ said  Merchant on the eve of Pacman’s comeback fight with Brandon Rios in Macau.

He would decision Rios and beat a slew of fighters 30 years old-and-below, the latest was the brash American who waged a stirring comeback and demanded a rematch. 

But the working senator put on hold negotiations for future fights, including one with the winner of the Errol Spence- Shawn Porter this September.

There were no talks of retirement and Father Time seems to be happily ensconced in the Filipino’s corner despite some hiccups during training.

“I’m still good at 40. I can still it give my best against the  guys,” said Pacquiao, completing his 71st fight with 62 wins, seven losses and two draws.

He dished it out again Saturday and plans to fight more, win more  for the nation and its people.

But for how long ? That is the question.

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