Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Following his stunning knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao may step away from the sport of boxing forever.
It's strange to think I woke up this morning in a world where Manny Pacquiao has clearly lost his spot as a top three pound-for-pound fighter. It's been so long, so many years of Manny and Floyd Mayweather as one and two, even with the emergence of Andre Ward, Pacquiao was certainly still top three.
But the right hand of Juan Manuel Marquez changed all of that last night, leaving Pacquiao unconscious on the floor for the referees ten count...and longer.
The idea of Pacquiao and Marquez fighting for a fifth time has already been floated, and it may indeed happen. But there is also the very real possibility that last night was the last time we'll see Pacquiao fight.
It's something that Freddie Roach floated again after the fight (via Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole):
"Possible retirement, possible rematch; I'm not sure which way we're going to go right now," Roach said. "It really depends upon how he feels and what he wants to do. We'll get back in the gym and if I see signs of decline, I'll tell him to retire. If I don't, I'll tell him to go on."
"I don't think we're at that point yet," Roach said. "But we have to see how he feels and what he wants to do. I'll definitely tell him to retire if he's not able to do it in the gym, but we have to see."
As a politician in the Philippines, Pacquiao has a career that he cares about and takes up plenty of his time. If he and Roach don't feel that he "has it" anymore, why not hang up the gloves?
Of course, Pacquiao last night didn't look like a beat up, washed up shell of a fighter. He lost a brutal fight to his biggest foe in a fight where I thought he'd won every round but the third prior to being knocked out in the sixth. If he fights on he'll likely still be a threat to beat anyone in the world.
As Scott Christ pointed out at Bad Left Hook, it's going to take some soul searching from Manny to decide if he still wants to be that guy:
What might make just as much if not more sense would be for Manny Pacquiao, a multi-millionaire, to look inward and ask himself if he still has as much focus as he keeps saying he does in training camp. If it's really worth the risk anymore. Or if it's time to just be an all-time great, Hall of Fame-bound fighter, who retired before it was too late, to spend the rest of his life with his lovely family and a post-boxing career that few fighters will have the luxury of enjoying.
Only Manny Pacquiao can answer that question. I sure as hell can't, and even the great Freddie Roach can't do that for him. Freddie can tell him if he's physically slipping, and suspect that the mental game isn't where it used to be, but only Manny really knows if, deep down, it's still in there. And if it is, if he's willing to sacrifice enough to bring that out again.
If last night was the conclusion to a career, it was the conclusion to an all-time great career. And Manny would have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in going out in a loss.
You can follow all of our Pacquiao vs. Marquez 4 fight week coverage right here , or you can follow the tremendous SB Nation boxing blog Bad Left Hook for their in depth coverage .