The Beginning of The End for Manny Pacquiao and Top Rank?
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: March 28, 2018
Boxing’s only eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao has signed on with a verbal agreement to meet WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse on July 8 in Malaysia. Pacquiao has been out of the ring since last July when he lost a controversial decision to Jeff Horn in Australia. By the time Pacquiao steps in the ring with Matthysse, he will have been out of the ring for a year. Regardless of Pacquiao’s recent inactivity, the Argentinean slugger could prove to be the perfect opponent for the Filipino Senator.
The last few weeks Pacquiao and his team have stated that the eight-division champion’s contract with Top Rank had expired. Top Rank attempted to have Pacquiao fight on the undercard of Terence Crawford’s welterweight debut against Jeff Horn in Las Vegas on April 14. Pacquiao would have faced former 140-pound contender Mike Alvarado. Pacquiao turned down the fight with Alvarado and decided to take matters into his own hands. Many fans and pundits were skeptical of a bout with Matthysse taking place in Malaysia as last year Pacquiao attempted to make a fight with Amir Khan in Dubai. The fight with Khan never happened, and Pacquiao ended up fighting in Australia as originally planned.
It is only a natural progression that Pacquiao and Top Rank eventually go their separate ways. As Pacquiao’s priorities have become more focused on his Senatorial duties in his native Philippines, Top Rank has pushed more of their younger stars with an emphasis on fighters like Terence Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko. At this point, Pacquiao is in the twilight of his career and should be only a few fights away from an official retirement.
For over the last decade, Pacquiao has been the face of Top Rank. Pacquiao’s status as the number one fighter for the promotion has likely run its course. The Filipino’s promotion company MP Promotions will reportedly be the lead promoter for his bout with Matthysse. Golden Boy Promotions is involved as well. Top Rank may handle the distribution for the bout, and the fight may be shown on ESPN. Pacquiao-Matthysse could also be on ESPN’s new upcoming streaming service app.
With the “Pac-Man” working in collaboration with Golden Boy to make the bout with Matthysse, it brings memories of over a decade ago when Pacquiao almost left Top Rank for Golden Boy. In 2007, Oscar De La Hoya met with Pacquiao to deliver a suitcase with $250,000 as a signing bonus to sign with the promoter. Legal action ensued between Top Rank and Golden Boy with Pacquiao ending up in the arms of Top Rank. At this point in Pacquiao’s career, he may be more of a mercenary than anything else. He wanted to take more control of his career rather than allowing Top Rank to handle everything.
While Pacquiao’s relationship with Top Rank may be less than perfect, the Filipino’s relationship with long-time trainer Freddie Roach could be in trouble. Roach has yet to be notified if he will be training Pacquiao for his fight with Matthysse as the two men have yet to communicate. There is still plenty of time for Roach to meet with Pacquiao in the Philippines to join him in training, but the lack of communication between the two is concerning.
Should Pacquiao come out victorious against Matthysse it would be a great swan song for a fighter that has given fans so many memorable nights of action. After his fight with Matthysse, we will see what will be Pacquiao’s next move. Pacquiao has expressed interest in fighting Vasyl Lomachenko afterward. Fans could be witnessing the beginning of the end of seeing Pacquiao under the Top Rank banner. As boxing history has shown us time and time again, Pacquiao could be on the road of overstaying his welcome in the boxing world, leading him to get beaten into retirement rather than leave on his own terms.
(Feature Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)