At 34 years old, Manny Pacquiao is no longer in the prime of his career.
The Filipino hero's resume is rivaled only by that of Floyd Mayweather as being this generation's top star in boxing. He's an eight-division champion, the second-highest paid boxer in the world (as of June, 2013, via Forbes.com) and holds victories over the likes of Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Erik Morales.
With Pacquiao facing the twilight of his career, some that would say Pac-Man needs to remain busy to make the most of his dwindling time in the sport.
That's not exactly the case, though.
If Pacquiao learned anything from his dominant unanimous decision over Brandon Rios last Saturday, it's that a little time away from the ring can go a long way in maximizing his time in it.
In the wake of Pac-Man's devastating knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last December, Pacquiao took a longer hiatus between fights than he ever had in his career. He took almost an entire year off before taking on Rios in his most recent bout.
His previous longest layoff was eight months before he fought Antonio Margarito after facing Joshua Clottey.
For someone who has been a grinder his entire career, the layoff was a change of pace for Pacquiao. However, it also was a welcome one that brought about a noticeable resurgence for the boxer who thoroughly thumped Rios for the duration of their 12-round fight, as noted by Roy Jones Jr.:
Going into his last bout, there was some concern that a long layoff could mean the end for Pacquiao's career. After fighting at least twice each year since 1995, he has always been a grinder who is used to staying active.
Now that he's proved that he can come back after a year away from action, Pacquiao shouldn't be afraid to rip a page out of Mayweather's book.
While Pacquiao has always been the grinder, Mayweather has always been more calculating and conservative in booking bouts. This year marked the first that "Money" had fought twice in a year since 2007. Even back then, he waited until 2009 to re-enter the ring for a bout with Juan Manuel Marquez.
The result for Mayweather has been a career devoid of disappointing performances and the ability to still fight at an incredibly high level despite being 36 years old.
That isn't to say that Pacquiao has made a mistake by fighting 62 times since 1995. He has earned his reputation as one of boxing's top stars by staying busy and taking on all comers in eight different weight classes.
But longevity is the name of the game now. Whether he books rematches with Marquez or Tim Bradley, or finally gets a bout with Mayweather, Pacquiao shouldn't be afraid to take as much time off as he needs.
He has already proven that he can come back to the ring looking revitalized rather than rusty. That's going to be the key for him as he tries to earn a few more statement wins to close out his legendary career.
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