After the most devastating loss of his career, Manny Pacquiao must lean even more heavily on his Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach and heed his words and career advice.
Not only did Pacquiao lose to Juan Manuel Marquez in December, but the boxing legend also suffered a devastating knockout that forced the Pac-Man camp to send the former champion to the hospital for further testing (h/t FOX News Latino.)
At 34 years old, Pacquiao isn’t the young fighter that once dominated the sport with his unique blend of speed and power, and the damage sustained in fights takes a heavier toll on his aging body.
This is the twilight of Pacquiao’s career, and the legend does not want to overstay his welcome in the sport and end up tarnishing what is an amazing legacy with a string of tough losses.
Whether it’s Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley or another fighter that Bob Arum and Pacquiao’s promoters line up as a possible September opponent, the only person that Pac-Man should listen to is Roach.
Before Pacquiao ever agrees to fight again, he needs to work closely with Roach for an extended period of time so that the trainer can help determine if Pac-Man has it in him to take another huge bout or if retirement is the best option.
Roach told Bill Dwyre of The Los Angeles Times about how Pacquiao is following the devastating KO loss and what he will be looking for as a trainer in terms of long-term ramifications from the damage sustained in the loss:
He says he's fine, and I believe him. There are things I will be looking for in our next training camp. First, it is the footwork. I will be able to tell if he starts feeling for the canvas. I remember when I did. I'll look for any slight tremors. I remember watching Larry Holmes show a slight tremor when he was doing the mitts in training and I always thought that was a bad sign for his future. But so far, so good.
If he says he needs to keep going to pay for the politics, I will tell him that's the wrong reason. If it is because he still wants to and loves it, that's the right reason.
Not only should Pacquiao listen to Roach because he is a longtime friend and one of the most decorated trainers in the world—voted Trainer of the Year five times by the Boxing Writers Association of America—but also because Roach himself went through a devastating end to his career and has suffered because of it.
Roach has Parkinson's disease (h/t The Guardian), an ailment he attributes to his own fighting career, the brutal nature of his aggressive in-ring style and his inability to walk away from the sport when the warning signs became evident.
If anyone knows the earmarks of a fighter's talents slipping—not only the physical aspects of the sport, but the mental game as well—it would be Roach.
Pacquiao must prove to Roach that he is able to withstand another fight, and if he doesn’t, the veteran boxer must heed his trainer’s warning and retire.
Roach went on to say, “Manny told me that if I tell him it is time to stop, he will.”
For Pacquiao’s sake, he better follow through with his promise to Roach when that time comes.