After Manny Pacquiao's suffered a knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8, he now has some decisions to make about his future. One of those decisions will likely be concerning his choice to take a tune-up fight before getting back in the ring against Marquez.
We know that his future will include a fifth installment of one of the greatest boxing matchups of all time.
Bob Arum, the promoter for Pac-Man's fights, has confirmed that Pacquiao and Marquez will square off at least one more time, and that the event will not take place in the United States, as Michael Woods of ESPN reported earlier on Wednesday.
That fight is set to commence in September, a full nine months down the calendar for both fighters. It's fairly certain that Marquez will get back in the ring before that, but Pacquiao is a different story.
With the elections in the Philippines coming up in April and Pacquiao both sustaining his campaign and tackling the responsibility of helping out family members, an April matchup appears out of the question. This portion of Woods' report confirms that idea:
Pacquiao, a congressman in his native Philippines, will be busy in April with elections, Arum said. He's running unopposed, but one of his brothers, Roel, and his wife, Jinkee, will be vying for posts. "Manny has to be involved in the April elections," Arum said.
Pacquiao's trainer, the famed Freddie Roach, did an interview with Fight Hub TV that is circling the rounds on YouTube and other social media outlets. In it, Roach thinks that Pacquiao should bypass a tune-up fight and focus solely on getting ready for Marquez in September.
Despite all of his quirky ideas and training methods, Roach is dead on with this one.
For starters, there's still the interesting rumor floating around that Pacquiao showed early signs of Parkinson's disease both during and after his fight with Marquez in December.
The doctor that made the diagnosis, Rustico Jimenez, has since clarified that he has not given Pacquiao a full examination and that his opinion is purely based on his medical experience, and Pacquiao has both dismissed and forgiven Dr. Jimenez, as additionally reported by Filipino Boxing Journal.
Still, those kind of concerns should not be taken lightly. Whether or not he will have the disease is irrelevant to the current dangers he's facing—even if those concerns stem from the opinion of a highly regarded physician.
Parkinson's or not, Pacquiao is 34 years old and showed signs of slowing down in his last two fights—a controversial split-decision loss to Timothy Bradley and the KO at the hands of Marquez.
Should Pac-Man take a warm-up fight, or not return until Marquez 5?
At this point in his career, he has to be careful about what fights he takes. A warm-up match against a lesser opponent could take even more shine off his already less-illlustrous career if he was to struggle or in a worst-case scenario situation—lose.
Pacquiao has other commitments that many other boxers do not. He spends time making sure he's contributing to his native country through both politics and good deeds, and this election surely has helped increase his current decline—just look at President Barack Obama's hair in 2008 and then again now.
All that being said, Roach is right—Pacquiao needs to bypass any potential tune-ups and focus on his fifth fight with Marquez. There's too much to lose in the interim, especially if he was to drop a decision considered manageable against a lesser opponent.
A win against Marquez hangs in the balance, and that fight could very well be the last of his career. With those kind of stakes at hand, Pac-Man must do the smart thing, follow the advice of his trainer and avoid any potential match in March or May with Marquez on the same card.
Even if it makes Arum's ears spew smoke.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.