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How Pacquiao Got His Groove Back

It wasn’t too long ago that Manny Pacquiao was practically being begged to retire.

Just a little over two years ago, following his points loss to Australia’s Jeff Horn, the future first ballot Hall of Famer was considered by some to be so far gone and so deeply diminished that he should retire for the sake of his own safety. It was the consensus opinion among media “experts” that Manny was done.

Done…But not Done

And then, just about a year after the Horn loss, Pacquiao was not-so-done anymore.

A dominant victory over Lucas Matthysse to win the “regular” WBA welterweight title re-opened some eyes. A year after the Matthysse victory, Pacquiao’s beating of Keith Thurman to capture the full WBA 147 lb. title re-established the fact that Manny was still among the elite of the sport.

So, what changed? What turned him from a fighter with one foot out the proverbial door to one fully back on the main stage?

It’s hard to see anything he’s changed in terms of tactics and technique. He’s still basically the same fighter as always, employing the same style as always.

Favorable Matchmaking

Maybe a lot of this “rebirth” has to do with matchmaking.

Matthysse was kind of tailor-made for Pacquiao and it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that he could beat him fairly comfortably. Pacquiao’s next opponent, Adrien Broner, had the talent to cause problems, but it had been a long time since he performed up to his full potential. Some could even say that Thurman, despite being talented and skilled, was not an overly tough stylistic matchup for the Filipino icon.

A Tough Run

Before this positive run, Pacquiao had lost to Floyd Mayweather in 2015 and had not looked tremendous against Timothy Bradley or Jessie Vargas. Back in 2012, he got knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. These were all tough stylistic matches and it’s understandable that he wouldn’t looked stellar against them.

The Jeff Horn loss, meanwhile, maybe shouldn’t have been a loss at all. Many feel that Pacquiao deserved the nod against the rough and grappling Australian fighting—who happened to be fighting at home. The sloppy Horn bout was a tough one to score, but Pacquiao seemed to be landing the cleaner punches and doing enough to control the bout.

…Don’t Call It a Comeback

A case could be made that Manny Pacquiao never “came back” at all because he had never gone down or gone away in the first place.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that he’s firmly within the upper tier of the sport once again, The clock is ticking, though, at 41 years of age and with the entire sport on hold due to the raging coronavirus. Here’s hoping that world gets back to normalcy and Manny will get a chance to further prove that he belongs among the best of the sport.

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Paul Magno
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,, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: [email protected]
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