Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Manny Pacquiao Can See the Ending

Now a man of God more than ever, Manny Pacquiao claims religion and politics - not fighting - are his new calling.

Spend enough time around this crooked nose crew in boxing and you begin to learn stuff.

One of the things learned is that once a fighter begins to talk about retiring after "one or two more" then they are effectively done.

The landscape of this once great sport is littered with the cauliflower ears and hooded eyelids of the pugs that declared only "one more" ride on the merry-go-round before going home forever.

Manny Pacquiao has begun to make those sorts of declarations.

Coy about the exact length of time regarding his future in the squared circle, the best fighter of the last decade has begun making it known that his philosophy on life has changed and that it no longer includes messing other people up with his fists. A devout Catholic, Pacquiao claims that religion may now take precedence over fisticuffs.

"It's not right that I share God's word and at the same time I hurt other people," Pacquiao said last week from the Philippines.

Like fighters from the past who have retired mentally before they retired physically and literally, there are pressures from others to keep going - even though they know in their heart that the end is near. Fighters at Pacquiao's level have a host of hangers-on, companies and organizations that depend on their ring career for survival. In other words, when the fighter goes away, so does their paycheck.

A professional since 1995, Pacquiao has faced and beaten the best of a generation of prizefighters. He stopped Oscar De La Hoya after eight rounds in 2008.

One fighter who always claimed he would never hang on too long (and probably did) was Micky Ward. His last three fights against Arturo Gatti were brutal wars in which Ward paid a high physical price. Before their third and final brawl, Ward said "win or lose, this is it for me" but in the third fight his eyesight was damaged by a thunderous shot and he still holds the burden of that disability today.

Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, has stated he'd like to see the Filipino phenom who is the crown jewel in his promotional empire, hang around until at least the end of 2013 (there's that pressure). But Pacquiao's mother is essentially begging for her son to retire - and even Pacquiao himself seems to be leaning that way now.

Fighters are usually the last to know when it's time to hang up the gloves for good. But when they begin talking about retiring - yet still keep fighting - it's usually a bad thing. Their mind is no longer on the task at hand, but on the future - and all the possibilities of what a life outside of boxing would hold for them.

Pacquaio is pictured working away recently in his political position as a Congressman in the Philippines.

Pacquiao is a congressman in his native Philippines and he has much larger political aspirations. Their is talk of the governorship or even a presidential run. He recently accepted a position as an ambassador for the Catholic church and he is now in the process of divesting himself from the gambling and cock fighting ventures that he was involved with.

"Over a long time I've gained more than enough blessings from boxing, so I think it's time for me to return the favor," he recently told a group of reporters of his intention to move on with a life that doesn't involve gloves, trunks and robes.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this little story - the fighters that talk about retiring - yet keep fighting - are effectively done.

February 2012

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