Manny Pacquiao is still hurting.
Not so much physically, but the psychological impact of getting flattened by Juan Manuel Marquez is not going to leave Pacquiao's mind any time soon.
If Pacquiao, 34, is going to retire, the last image fight fans will have of the great Filipino fighter is that of him catching a perfectly timed punch from Marquez flush on the jaw and getting knocked unconscious.
Pacquiao (54-5-2) still has boxing in his blood. If he knew in his heart and mind that he could no longer box, he would have announced his retirement a day or two after getting starched.
Pacquiao is facing pressure from both his wife and his mother to give up boxing (source: SI.com), but he can no more retire for anyone else than he could have gotten in the ring for anyone else.
It's something that has to come from within.
In his Dec. 8 fight with Marquez, Pacquiao was not getting hammered from pillar to post in the six-round fight. He had been knocked down in the third round from a hard right hand but he had knocked down Marquez with a punishing straight left of his own in the fourth round.
Pacquiao had appeared to get the best of it in the first, second and fifth rounds and he definitely had an edge in the sixth round—until Marquez turned out the lights.
Pacquiao would not have been able to fight competitively if he didn't have the speed, quickness and power to handle himself for nearly six full rounds.
So, the prediction is that Pacquiao will come back.
It would seem likely that Pacquiao would want to get back into the ring with Marquez for a fifth time. However, Pacquiao should probably fight a different opponent to test himself before he engages Marquez again.
Besides, there are no guarantees that Marquez, 39, will fight again.
Pacquiao could get back in the ring with Brandon Rios in April. BoxingNews24.com suggested that Rios was a possible opponent for the winner off the Marquez-Pacquiao fight, but with Marquez's status up in the air, that may not be possible.
Rios, 26, is a solid fighter on the rise. Rios (31-0-1) defeated Richard Abril by a split decision and registered a seventh-round TKO over Mike Alvarado in 2012.
Rios is a hard hitter who can string punches together. However, he can't deliver a power punch like Marquez, and facing him might be just a tad safer than going back into the ring with a big hitter like Marquez.
Rios would provide Pacquiao with an excellent test.
If Pacquiao passes with a convincing win, it would be time to move back up to the big time. If he loses or struggles to hold his own, it might be time to retire.
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