Manny Pacquiao got knocked out in the ring on Dec. 8, but it appears Parkinson's disease is starting to creep up on him in the ring of life—never a good sign for a boxer.
According to an ESPN report, Dr. Rustico Jimenez has evaluated Pacquiao—albeit from afar—and thinks the 34-year-old is starting to show signs of the disease that has attacked former champion Muhammad Ali and actor Michael J. Fox, among others.
With a fifth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez a possibility, Pac-Man's political career still a hot topic in the Philippines and his legacy as a boxer hanging by a thread, Pacquiao's next move could be the toughest of his storied career.
No boxer wants to leave the ring the way Pacquiao did against Marquez.
That way was flat on the canvas, when Pacquiao got KO'd by Marquez in the fourth bout between the two in the sixth round. He took a hard, sweeping cross from the Mexican challenger and ended up hitting the deck—not exactly the precursor to a Floyd Mayweather, Jr. showdown.
As soon as he hit the mat, he lost some of the luster on a career that once had he and Mayweather poised to battle for supremacy during this era of the sport. Now, after losses to Marquez and Timothy Bradley in 2012, Pacquiao must face the reality of his record and maybe more importantly, his health.
The primary concern here is now Pacquiao's long-term well-being.
If he wants to run for politics in his home country and help change the landscape of where he came to fame, he'll need to be in physical shape to do so. Politics is demanding enough—political agents don't need any other threats looming over their head.
In the medical opinion of Dr. Jimenez, Pacquiao needs to get out of the sport while the getting is still good.
"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."
Although he hasn't seen Pacquiao in a medical instance or treated the Filipino, his medical opinion suggests that Pac-Man needs to eliminate threats to his health of any kind. With every sparring match, training session or even legitimate bout, Pacquiao could further his decline.
Granted, the medical opinion of this one doctor is no reason to quit boxing. But it has to raise concerns in Pacquiao's camp, at least to the point of making an appointment and having himself checked out.
In true Pac-Man fashion, he's shucked these recent reports and is focused on the next fight. According to recent reports from the UK's Daily Mail, Top Rank and promoter Bob Arum are getting ready for the fifth bout between Pacquiao and Marquez.
Here's an excerpt from the article, written on Monday:
"I think they can do it," said Fred Sternburg, spokesman for Top Rank, the promotional company of Bob Arum. "Bob has stated it over and over. The fight did so well financially, it's a no-brainer."
The report goes on to say that the company is targeting September 2013 as a potential date for the fifth bout, which would give Pacquiao some time off to both recover and prepare for the elections that are coming up in the next few months.
What's your take? Should Pac-Man return to boxing, or hang it up?
Still, with a family that wants what's best for the patriarch and doctors now chiming in on the health of the star, it's going to be a tough decision for Pacquiao to decide which way he's leaning.
No one will blame the Filipino if he decides to hang up the gloves.
However, it looks like he wants to fight again, and we'll all look forward to his return, especially if the embarrassment of Dec. 8 is the deciding factor in his choice to risk it all one more time.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.