Manny Pacquiao has lost his last two fights and must win his next one in order to save his legacy. The former WBO Welterweight champion lost his belt to Timothy Bradley in a controversial split-decision loss back on June 9 and was knocked out by longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8.
Pacquiao's next fight has yet to be scheduled, but it doesn't help matters that his critics appear to be coming out of the woodwork now that he has lost two bouts in a row.
Speaking to Miguel Rivera of boxingscene.com, former champion Jorge Arce suggested that Pacquiao had used "something" to give him an edge in his fights.
Whether or not that is true is irrelevant, but it does not take away from the fact that Pacquiao must win his next fight handily in order to save his legacy. Look at former boxing great and American legend Muhammad Ali, for example. The one time in his career that he lost two fights in a row, to Larry Holmes in 1980 and Trevor Berbick in 1981, he ended up retiring.
Does anyone think that Pacquiao wants to go out with his tail between his legs as a washed-up champ? I sure don't.
The fact of the matter is that Pacquiao is better than his last two fights and knows it. He's still fairly young at age 34, and while that may be on the older side in boxing years, keep in mind that the man known as "Pac-Man" is just a freak athlete, having competed and won titles in eight different divisions.
This means that in his next fight, be it a long-anticipated match between him and Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr. or a rematch between him and Bradley or Marquez, Pacquiao needs to be vintage Pacquiao.
He must fight with an extra bounce in his step—but not so determined that he ends up making a mental mistake. He cannot pull any punches and must want the win more than his opponent.
To do this, he has to control the action from the beginning. He must move forward at all times and not be on his heels at any point. If he must be in that position, it cannot be for long under any circumstances.
Long story short, Pacquiao needs to be the man that boxing fans fell in love with years ago, the same man that knocked out both Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. By just earning a simple decision victory in his next fight, Pacquiao will have proven that he still has what it takes to be a competitor in the ring.
Otherwise, it will be time for him and the fans to accept the hard truth that he just isn't able to keep up with the rest anymore.