Being a Professional Boxer is a Full-time Job

Being a Professional Boxer is a Full-time Job

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Published: August 08, 2017


Manny Pacquiao had a tougher than expected fight with Jeff Horn despite most having him winning the fight. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Manny Pacquiao had a tougher than expected fight with Jeff Horn despite most having him winning the fight. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Former eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) has decided to forgo the latest trend of fighters retiring by asking for a rematch with Australia’s Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs). Their first fight that took place at the beginning of July for all intents and purposes was a success. The bout was exciting, and action packed filling over 50,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. It was also a success in viewership, as it became the highest-rated fight on ESPN since the mid-1990’s. The only issue came with the scoring of the fight.

Horn was given a unanimous decision victory in the first fight with scores of 115-113 twice and one judge with a strange score of 117-111. Many observers thought Pacquiao did more than enough to retain his WBO welterweight title and should have been given a decision. Now heading into a rematch, there are more questions surrounding Pacquiao than answers. Even with a majority of observers having Pacquiao winning including this writer with a scorecard of eight rounds to four for the Filipino, it was clear that this was not the same Pacquiao that many remember. Some may liken it to watching Michael Jordan play for the Washington Wizards or Jerry Rice playing for the Seattle Seahawks.

This should not come as a surprise as it is only natural for a man at 38 years of age with almost 70 professional fights not to look like he did when he was in his prime. Horn was fighting in his hometown and was the much bigger fighter, and still, Pacquiao was only a few left hands away from stopping him in the ninth round. If this were a Pacquiao in his prime, it is doubtful that Horn makes it to even the ninth round. However, what cannot be dismissed is the preparation that took place in Pacquiao’s training camp. Throughout the entire camp, Pacquiao and his team seemed dismissive of Horn. Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune made several comments minimizing Horn's chances against the former eight-division champion. 

Pacquiao has been a professional for over 20 years, and certainly, he must know what he is doing when training. The fact that he is one of the few fighters who does not need to cut weight to make the weight in his division only helps. However, there is a question as to how well his training camps are running. Most fighters when they get to the point of making the amount of money that Pacquiao makes don’t have any other full-time jobs. Pacquiao was once a congressman and now a senator for the Philippines. No matter how much experience he has the development of now having to run a full-time senator position and be a professional boxer has to be difficult. Pacquiao’s longtime trainer Freddie Roach shared his thoughts with boxingscene.com on Pacquiao being a politician and boxer. 

“Being a congressman, it seemed like Manny really wasn’t pressed or challenged by it. But being a senator, he’s like a whole different person. It takes a lot of his time, and the thing is, the first of training camp wasn’t the best because he was being a senator, and sometimes they’d let him out at three o’clock, and sometimes they let him out at nine o’clock. Sometimes 10 o’clock. And then we have to train after he gets off work. Being a great fighter and being a great person in politics, it’s just very, very difficult to do both, I feel.”
— Freddie Roach

The days of having eight-week training camps at the Wild Card Gym are over and have been over for a number of years. The training camp for Horn was completely in the Philippines, and with trainer, Freddie Roach not being there for the full camp one wonders if at 38 and a historic hall-of-fame career behind him, if Pacquiao is giving his full effort. Being a senator and a boxer is new, and some trial and error with scheduling are expected. With the rematch likely taking place in Australia again, mistakes can be corrected that were made in the first camp. 

“Now, the question is because of his senatorial duties we have to find a window where he can do the fight and train for the fight appropriately. So we can’t use the schedule the Senate had last year because now the country is under martial law. So Manny is now working that out with the president of the Senate, the president of the country and we are going to be arriving at like a two-week window where we can schedule a fight with Horn.”
— Bob Arum

Manny Pacquiao is a special fighter and is unlike any fighter in recent history. Maybe he sees it as a challenge in committing to two difficult jobs at once. With his contemporaries and rivals leaving the sport in Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez and past foes like Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather one or two fights from leaving the sport for good nobody would have blamed Pacquiao if he decided to retire.

Until the day that he does choose to retire from the sport officially, Pacquiao needs to treat his craft as a full-time job. There are hundreds of examples of boxers staying in the sport for too long and getting hurt. The sport is unforgiving and giving the sport anything less than 100 percent can only be detrimental. While the memories of Pacquiao’s fights will forever live in the pantheon of boxing history in immortality, the man himself is not immortal. It is the choice of the fighter to take himself out of the sport or be taken out of the sport. The rematch with Horn will let us know where Pacquiao stands. 

“I love this sport, and until the passion is gone, I will continue to fight for God, my family, my fans and my country.”
— Manny Pacquiao

(Feature Photo: Associated Press)

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