Manny Pacquiao’s career is in crisis, and after losing via knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez, Pac-Man must win his next fight.
Across his career, Pacquiao has been as popular as any fighter of this generation. Boxing fans use their wallets to show which fighters they want to see and they have consistently been willing to shell out the pay-per-view cost to watch Pac-Man.
Pacuqiao entered his recent matchup with Marquez having taken part in five fights that topped 1 million pay-per-view buys, as noted by Forbes.com’s Kurt Badenhausen. ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported that the epic December 8 showdown drew in 1.15 million pay-per-view buys.
Badenhausen’s article states that Pacquiao’s sixth fight reaching this threshold ties him with Mike Tyson for the all-time record.
Pac-Man is a remarkably popular fighter because of his amiable personality and entertainingly aggressive style.
But most importantly, people watch him because he wins.
Before losing in a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao had won his last 15 fights. But there was no doubt about the result against Marquez, and regardless of whether or not the judges’ ruling in the Bradley bout was just, Pac-Man has lost two fights in a row.
If his losing streak continues in his next bout, his popularity will take a significant hit and fans will be less willing to dig into their pockets in order to watch him fight.
Pacquiao is 33 years old and his age, in combination with his recent defeats, have drawn concerns about whether his skills have been declining since a narrow victory over Marquez in 2011.
The Filipino fighter and his camp brushed off these worries as a lack of focus leading up to the bout. But Pac-Man hasn’t knocked out an opponent since 2009, and was stopped early for the first time since 1999.
Going forward, It will be significantly more difficult to come up with explanations for his disappointing performances.
There are more questions than ever about Pacquiao’s ability to keep fighting at an elite level, and the ring is the only place he can provide answers.
If Pac-Man can put on a show and entertain spectators, while also getting the desired result, his popularity will continue to soar and he will remain one of the most marketable athletes in boxing.
But a third straight loss would damage his ability to draw in massive audiences, and it would likely take multiple fights and a win over another elite boxer for Pacquiao to restore his legacy.
In order to avoid a long and extremely difficult road back to the top, Pacquiao needs to win his next fight, and he needs to do so convincingly.