On Nov. 23 in Macau, there will be more than just one boxing match on the line for Manny Pacquiao when he takes on Brandon Rios. His impressive career, which is currently at somewhat of a crossroads, will be hanging in the balance.
Talk about a must-win fight.
It wasn’t that long ago that Pacquiao was unstoppable in the midst of a 15-fight winning streak. Challengers stepped up and were defeated one-by-one, and it seemed like a hypothetical dream matchup with Floyd Mayweather was the logical next step.
And then Pac-Man lost.
Then he lost again.
Pacquiao’s winning streak was ended in a controversial manner to say the least. It wouldn’t be fair to simply say Timothy Bradley defeated him without mentioning the fact that the judges’ decision was widely criticized.
However, there was no controversy in the decision when Pacquiao was brutally knocked out in the sixth round against Juan Manuel Marquez. Whether you consider the Bradley loss with an asterisk or not, the reality is that Pac-Man has lost two in a row. If he wants to maintain his status as one of the top competitors in the sport, he absolutely needs a victory over Rios to stop the bleeding.
Furthermore, whatever life support the hypothetical matchup with Mayweather is on now will be completely gone if Pacquiao loses a third straight bout. The showdown that has been nothing but a tease for boxing fans and sports fans in general for years will never happen if Pacquiao can’t stay in the same stratosphere as Mayweather.
While fans can dream of Pacquiao resurrecting his career and one day finally facing off against Mayweather, his trainer Freddie Roach has other concerns on his mind. In fact, Roach acknowledged, via Mike Dawes of the Daily Mail, that it may be time for Pac-Man to hang up the gloves if he doesn’t put up an impressive performance:
If it does not go well, we will seriously talk about his retirement and possibly going into politics. It’s really hard to say until we see the fight, but I will be the first one to tell him to retire, and we have an agreement that as soon as I tell him that, he will retire.
If his trainer is to be believed, Nov. 23 may be the last time we ever see Pacquiao fight if he doesn’t come away with an impressive performance. If that doesn’t make this a must-win battle, then nothing does.