Manny Pacquiao has not had a good year in the ring, and now things look much worse outside of it. ESPN reported Friday that the veteran boxer is at risk of suffering from early stages of Parkinson's disease.
UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 4 at 5:22 p.m. by Tyler Conway
It seems Pacquiao has heard the claims made by Dr. Jiminez and he's not a happy camper. According to BoxingScene.com, Pacquiao released a statement on Friday vehemently denying anything is wrong health-wise:
There is nothing to be worry about. I am 100% healthy and right now I'm enjoying this memorable vacation with my family in this beautiful country of Israel. I will return to the Philippines on January 14 and in early February I want to get to the gym because I want to have a fight in April and in September I want the fifth fight with Marquez.
Well, there are two announcements in one. Not only is Pacquiao healthy, but he's also seemingly ready to take on two fighters in 2013. That sound you hear is boxing fans everywhere rejoicing.
---End of Update---
Dr. Rustico Jimenez, president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, examined Pacquiao and offered his expert opinion:
Even though his reflexes are quick, I noticed the movement - it's just another view, my personal view - but it seems like there are early signs. There are some movements that you will notice with his hands. It's in the hands, and not the head, where you can easily see this. It twitches a little bit. Although I haven't seen it up close, I think I am seeing that there are some signs.
The disease is something that has plagued boxers late into their career and continues to affect them throughout their lives. Former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali currently suffers from Parkinson's disease, as well as Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach.
There was some speculation that the Filipino fighter would retire after suffering a brutal knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez in December.
His wife, Jinkee, was a major proponent of this mindset after seeing her husband hit the canvas face-first (via USA Today):
I know he is still (capable) of fighting, but for me there is nothing to prove. He already has eight (title) belts. He can retire — stop — at anytime. I want him to stop now. But he is the one who has the last say. Boxers risk their lives; (some) end up in wheelchairs. I don't want that to happen to Manny.
With a medical professional now on her side, it might help sway the former champion to make a decision that would prevent further damage.
Unlike many athletes, Pacquiao is well prepared for a career after sports. He has been involved in numerous entertainment ventures, and he is a member of Congress in the Philippines.
He was also recently named the No. 2 richest athlete in the world by Forbes.
Pacquiao is yet to make an announcement about his future plans, but the latest news is very likely to play a part in any decision he makes.