There are two theories as to how Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao will close out his legendary career.
The Pacquiao optimist says that Manny will go down swinging, fighting the best available opposition and barreling into retirement with the same aggressive confidence he used to get to the top in the first place. These people see him fighting Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, or some other main stage elite-level opponent. Maybe Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia if the top, top dogs can’t be wrangled.
The Pacquiao pessimist says that Manny will finish his career with a victory lap of sorts. That he’ll be tangling with only those foes with names who won’t present much danger. They see these last small handful of fights as a Greatest Hits tour for a legend. Names like Mikey Garcia and Josesito Lopez come to mind here. Opponents who can help sell a fight, but who don’t stand much of a chance of actually winning.
Frankly, Pacquiao should be allowed free rein to pursue either path. He’s earned that right over 25-years as a pro and through eight different weight classes. The man doesn’t owe anyone a damn thing. He could’ve retired in 2006 and still easily be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Critics will be critics, though. And fans will be fans.
This week, Pacquiao adviser Sean Gibbons seemed to hint that Manny may be going down the path of least resistance with a Mikey Garcia bout. Via social media, Gibbons posted a picture of himself with Keith Thurman and Garcia, with the caption: “One down one to go.”
That would mean Mikey’s next. Or not. The post could’ve been nothing more than a throwaway bit of social media fluff. Maybe nothing more than a post for posting’s sake or something to stir up a bit of conversation among fans.
As of right now, nothing’s even remotely close to happening when it comes to Pacquiao. Bob Arum and Eddie Hearn have talked a lot about Manny coming back for them and/or against their fighters. But Pacquiao and his people have not said a word about when he may fight or against whom. Until Pacquiao speaks, anything posted about his future plans is “fake news.”
It’s a distinct possibility that the 41-year-old current WBA welterweight champ may even sit out some months. He may opt to wait and see what the boxing landscape looks like in early 2021 before committing to a comeback. It’s doubtful that he’d want to fight in an arena without an audience or for a fraction of what he could make in “normal” times.
For now, the boxing world has to just wait and see. Everyone from 140 to 160 pounds wants him. The money he still generates and the weight of his name on a resume make him THE best opponent for any top fighter near his weight class. But Manny has the ultimate say-so in all of this.
Fans will see soon enough whether he’ll be going out in a blaze of glory or in a soft-ride legends tour.