With about 97% of the votes counted as of this writing, it appears that boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has been defeated in his bid for the presidency of the Philippines. And it appears to be quite the definitive defeat, too.
Reportedly garnering just slightly above 7% of the vote, Pacquiao finished a distant third to projected winner Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is said to have received nearly 63% of the popular vote.
So, with this sound thrashing at the polls, what’s a boxing legend and multi-division world champ likely to do?
Of course, the 43-year-old Pacquiao is still a Senator and will be fulfilling his duties in that role, but we all know that, at heart, the man is a warrior. A warrior doesn’t give up his warrior status so easily.
In Pacquiao’s particular case, he’d be a warrior giving up his warrior status after a loss– a loss that some have deemed rather passive against a fighter in Yordenis Ugas who shouldn’t have been able to force that “L” on him.
Could such a proud man and fighter such as Manny Pacquiao let his legendary career end on a note like that?
Odds are pretty good that he won’t.
So, that means a comeback– even if it’s just a one fight comeback to add a proper closing chapter to his career– could soon be in the works.
Assuming all of this reasoning is correct, the question is: Who will be that last Pacquiao opponent to provide a fitting end to his Hall of Fame career?
One line of thought says that Manny will want to end his career big, delivering one final big-money, big-deal main stage victory against someone fans and media will say he has no business fighting. Opponents in that category include Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford or, possibly, the winner of a Spence-Crawford title unification bout. Maybe, possibly, a move back down to 140 for a try against undisputed, fully unified 4-belt world champion Josh Taylor could also fit that bill. A move up to super welter against the winner of the upcoming Jermell Charlo-Brian Castaño 4-belt unification would also be a killer way to cap off his professional run.
There’s another line of thought that says Manny may want a relative soft touch final opponent so as to guarantee a happy ending to his career. Maybe the fight could even be staged in his home country, where the event could serve as a glorious farewell party among his Filipino base. There would be plenty of possible opponents if Pacquiao went this direction with the best, most bankable of the lot being guys such as Josesito Lopez, Michael McKinson, or Omar Figueroa Jr.
Between the cynical and the optimistic, though, is the middle-ground opponent who will deliver name value while also being beatable enough to ensure that Manny has a solid path to victory. Fighters like Mikey Garcia, Amir Khan, and Danny Garcia would be ideal opposition for this third possible path to the end.
Whatever happens, though, Pacquiao is a first ballot Hall of Famer, regardless. He could certainly let the Ugas loss be his final ring appearance and retire without the least bit of harm to his legacy.
But, in boxing, fighters rarely walk away and stay away at the “right” time– especially when there’s still tons of money on the table and unfinished competitive business to be addressed.
A betting man would be wise to wager some money on Manny returning to the ring at some point in the fairly immediate future. Boxing is in his blood and there’s quite possibly at least one more battle in the man’s heart and soul.