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Is It Time For Pacquiao To Hit The Celebrity Exhibition Circuit?

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Unified junior welterweight champ Josh Taylor was brutally honest when he was recently asked about the possibility of fighting Manny Pacquiao.

“It would be a huge honor to share the ring with him,” Taylor told Give Me Sport.

“It would be great. It would be like a dream come true. But is there any reward in it for me at this point in time? I don’t think he looked great in that fight [with Ugas], I thought he looked old, his timing was off, a bit off the pace.

“If I then have a fight against Manny Pacquiao and beat Manny Pacquiao, it’s like you beat an old Manny Pacquiao, an old has-been past his prime, so I’m not going to get any recognition for beating Manny Pacquiao. He’s not the same Manny Pacquiao he once was…I don’t think there would be any benefit to me apart from sharing the ring with my hero.”

Even if you’re the greatest of die-hard Manny Pacquiao fans, you have to admit that Taylor has a point.

If a high-end fighter is looking to use Pacquiao as a stepping stone to next-level recognition, they won’t get much of a benefit right now from notching that victory. The money involved in facing Manny will still be good, but much of the prestige is gone.

So, that’s why this is the best time for the Filipino icon to call it a career in the real world of pro boxing and take his show to the celebrity exhibition circuit.

A gifted entertainer as well as pugilist, Manny would slide right into the scene currently filled with YouTubers, retired boxers, athletes from other sports, and former UFC stars. It would be a win-win for the multi-division former world champ.

Actually, it would be a win-win for everyone– Manny AND his fans.

There would be endless possibilities for high-profile exhibitions. The paydays would be immense for the fighting Senator. The fans would still be able to see their hero doing his thing in the ring. And Manny, because of the crossover nature of these exhibitions, would probably be more present in the mainstream eye than at any point in his career, even at the height of Pacquiao-mania.

Hardcore purists may bristle at the idea of seeing such an earnest warrior taking on the Jake Pauls of the world in showbiz-heavy spectacles, but they would really need to get over themselves. The only other options for Pacquiao would be retirement or a continued push forward at the elite level, taking on the risk of injury and/or embarrassing defeat, which would be significantly more shameful than anything he could do on the celeb boxing circuit.

A quick look at what exhibition fights could be made for Manny shows infinite possibilities.

There’s the much-talked about fight with UFC mega-star Conor McGregor, which could be an exhibition or a “real” fight. There’s also the aforementioned Jake Paul, an opponent who could also serve as an exhibition or “for real” foe. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather on the celebrity circuit could also be an option at some point, although the chance of that happening appears to be more and more remote as time passes.

Beyond those three biggest options, the opponent selections really are limitless. From the logical– Juan Manuel Marquez, George St. Pierre, BJ Penn, Paulie Malignaggi, etc. – to the fun, but utterly illogical– Extra’s Mario Lopez, YouTuber/brother of Jake Paul, Logan Paul, and retired NFL star Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson (among many others).

The point is that it’s probably time for Manny to admit that his elite-level professional run is over and to transition into the next phase of his career. If he’s above the celebrity circuit– and he probably is, to be honest– then, it’s time to leave fighting behind completely.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com