Manny Pacquiao made his return to the ring this past Saturday, ending the second longest layoff of his career. Going into the fight, many were there skeptical of exactly how much Pacquiao still had left in the tank. He is 37 years old and has been in over 60 fights in his career. Not only were they doubting what he still had physically, many thought that he was also mentally checked out. He had just fought in the biggest fight in boxing history against Floyd Mayweather last May and looked slow and lost in the ring. The fact that he was coming off of shoulder surgery and had said this would be his last fight certainly made it look like he was just in it for the money.
On paper, this appeared to be the perfect “passing of the torch” fight. Tim Bradley had just linked up with new trainer Teddy Atlas and looked fantastic as he knocked out Brandon Rios in his previous fight and looked poised to finally defeat Manny Pacquiao in their third fight. Unfortunately for Bradley, Pacquiao showed that he still has a lot left to offer the boxing world if he chooses.
The fight started slow with both fighters looking to find a flow after the first four rounds. But after a jab from Bradley that landed on the chin of Pacquiao, it looked like something woke up inside of Pacquiao. All of a sudden an old Manny Pacquiao looked like the Manny Pacquiao of old. He was firing combinations, hitting Bradley from odd angles, and consistently landing his straight left, one of the best signature punches we have ever seen from a boxer. He knocked Bradley, a fighter known for his ability to take a shot, down in rounds seven and nine. He then cruised to a unanimous decision.
After the fight, Pacquiao maintained that he still intended to retire, preferring to focus on politics in the Philippines where he is a congressman seeking a senate seat this year. But he definitely looked like a man who still wanted to fight, one time even hinting that his family asked him to retire. While he may not be as good as he once was, he is still without a doubt one of the top boxers in the world and looked like he enjoyed this too much to walk away from it.
As doubtful as many may be about the retirement, the boxing world currently has said timid farewells to both him and Mayweather, the two fighters that have owned this era. And while I believe that neither will stay retired with still so much money left on the table for each, boxing fans will look to find a new face of boxing for the time being. 26-year-old Canelo Alvarez will be that man if he can defeat Amir Khan and set up boxing’s next mega-fight with knockout artist Gennady Golovkin.