The mighty has fallen, but will he rise again?
Few fighters fully recover from a concussive knockout loss where they are rendered unconscious for minutes, require smelling salts to revive them and endure an overnight hospital visit.
Roberto Duran, having lost emphatically to Tommy Hearns in 1984, is an exceptional case of a boxer who goes on to attract multiple accolades having been handed a decisive second round battering from an elite puncher.
However, history is mostly filled with pugilists who fail to recapture their former pomp once they taste the canvas…Paul Williams, Ricky Hatton, Enzo Maccarinelli, Roy Jones Jr. are just four modern examples.
Following Juan Manuel Marquez's highlight-reel knockout victory over Filipino nemesis Manny Pacquiao, ring legend Bernard Hopkins informed Showtime's Jim Ross that such defeats considerably shorten a prizefighter's career. Via ESPN:
That's the type of punch that takes more than one fight out of you. It takes a couple of fights out of you. It's one of those types of knockouts that you can recover from in life, but I don't think you can recover fully in the sport. That was a devastating knockout that has a long-term effect. I know when you see a guy get knocked out and hit in that way, they are considered damaged goods and they live up to that title.
While Williams was savaged by Sergio Martinez in the second round of their 2012 duel, he did go on to record a brace of triumphs: A majority decisioning of Erislandy Lara (that led to widespread anger at the scorecards with Lara unfortunate to lose) before shutting out Nobuhiro Ishida in what would go on to be his curtain-closing performance.
Hatton, Maccarinelli and Jones Jr. are all proven "damaged goods" fighters.
Pacquiao beat Hatton into defeat, retirement, depression and left him pondering suicide. Maccarinelli was enjoying a solid cruiserweight spell up until he met David Haye, who stopped him inside six minutes in 2008.
In the next four years, Enzo would succumbed to beastly knockout losses to Ola Afolabi, Denis Lebedev, Alexander Frenkel and Ovill McKenzie.
Even the once great Jones Jr. has fallen foul of the "damaged goods" tag as the erstwhile athletic American was TKO'd by Antonio Tarver in two-rounds eight years ago, before being knocked out by Glencoffe Johnson, Tarver for a second time, lost to Joe Calzaghe on points, Danny Green inside a round, Hopkins in a rematch and Lebedev in Russia.
There is, though, an old adage in boxing: "Every great fighter has one last great fight in them."
Has Pacquiao already had his? Arch-rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. thinks not as the Money man told Fight Hype that he is confident Pacman can bounce-back.
The only thing he can do is rejuvenate himself and bounce back like a true champion...I wish [him] nothing but the best. I wish that he can bounce back and he can recoup from this...You have to really, really dedicate yourself to your craft. I think he's got so many different things on the outside that he worries about, you know.
Floyd's father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., marveled at the manner in which Pacquiao began his fourth fight with Marquez and lauded his feinting intuition. But, because he was knocked out, believes his immediate future lies in politics, not boxing, as reported by On The Ropes radio.
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"He got dropped earlier in the fight then down the line Pacquiao started to do really good. He was then feinting the jab, hitting him with two to three punches. [But] when you get knocked out like that, pretty much everything is over. Pacquiao is not going to be the same fighter he was...I think Pacquiao should go and be the Hawaiian President or whatever it is. My opinion is that it’s your money or your brain, and who wants to catch brain injury if you got money."
Like Mayweather Sr., Hatton—a former Pacquiao KO victim—sees Manny's legacy as "secured." When speaking with British broadsheet The Telegraph, Hatton, who unsuccessfully attempted a welterweight comeback recently but was stopped by Vyacheslav Senchenko, urged Pacquiao to retire.
"The thing with us fighters is that there is always one more fight. What's he going to achieve by having one more fight? Probably nothing. He's an eight-weight world champion. There's nothing more to be said. You'd like to see him go into retirement and spend some time with his family and be happy. He can't do any more from a boxing point of view."
While the boxing industry is polarised between those who believe Pacquiao is done and those who think his decline is a mere blip, the one who knows the ambidextrous 34 year old best—coach Freddie Roach—has adopted a more diplomatic and logical approach.
The trainer of Manny for a dozen years, Roach stated to the Philippine Star that any real notable dip in Pacquiao's physical form can only be assessed in the next training camp.
"Once we start training for the next fight, that's where we will see if there's a decline.You get hit with a shot like that and maybe you had a concussion. I wouldn't be thinking of a fight until maybe September . That's my idea of the soonest. We can talk about a [Marquez] rematch, we could talk about [Brandon] Rios or Mayweather. I don't think he needs to fight a bum."
Ultimately, the decision to carry on or retire lies with one man; Pacquiao.
"If you give us a chance, we’ll fight again," said Manny (h/t Sports Illustrated), in a clear indication he would pursue fistic vengeance against his most recent tormentor rather than take heed of advice bestowed upon him by Hopkins, Mayweather Sr., Hatton et al…