He has been tagged with so many labels — half of them unflattering — outside of his sport. Inside the ropes, under the brightest lights and in front of boxing fans inside an arena and all over the world, he is known by only one name: Legend.
And in the wake of a stunning loss that revealed so much of what Manny Pacquiao had lost over the last two years he was inactive, the legend tag rang loud again — as loud as the voices that clamor for the Filipino ring icon to call it a career.
“Manny has had an incredible career and he doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone,” Leonard Ellerbe, chief of Premier Boxing Champions that promotes Pacquiao’s fight, tweeted. “You can’t continue to push that envelope when you’re an older fighter. Hope he does the right thing, he will always be a legend.”
Pacquiao lost to Cuban tactician Yordenis Ugas on Saturday in Las Vegas, a resounding defeat that drew a unanimous verdict from ringside judges, experts, boxing aficionados and even down to armchair analysts. The defeat exposed his age — gone was the explosive lateral movement that would have powdered fighters like Ugas, who loves staying in front of opponents.
Pacquiao himself admitted that Ugas outfought him. But for a brief moment at his locker room after the fight, he needed a little convincing.
As the Team Pacquiao convoy made its stop in Barstow on its way here on Sunday, it was only his wife Jinkee Pacquiao and the kids who alighted from the 13-seater Mercedes Benz van. The eight-division champ remained inside.
Jinkee revealed that Manny asked her immediately after the fight: “Talo ba talaga ako? (Did I really lose back there?)’’
Jinkee said she simply nodded.
There was little debate as to who won Saturday’s bout. There was little debate, too, that Pacquiao’s boxing legacy came away pretty much intact after the defeat.
A-list welterweight Terence Crawford was quick to point out that Ugas hit the jackpot in Las Vegas: He caught Pacquiao on the downhill.
“Looks like @ErrolSpenceJr gone need me after all tho. I know you really mad about that fight last night because I was,” said Crawford, one of the many names in the Pacquiao rolodex of opponents before Spence clinched the bout. Spence, however, was a late scrub after he suffered an eye injury.
“But not in hating way, just a missed opportunity way,” Crawford added. “Don’t beat yourself up about it. Get well Champ.”
Another boxer who was a candidate for a bout with the Filipino senator, Ryan Garcia, tweeted: “Pacquaio (sic) will forever be my favorite fighter and inspiration.”
Olympic bronze medalist Eumir Marcial also posted on his social media account: “You will always be my hero, and someone I’ll always look up to. Thank you so much for inspiring us.”Pacquiao’s former long-time promoter, Top Rank, wrote on social media: “One of the best to ever do it. What a career @MannyPacquiao.”
The tributes sounded like curtain-call cheers, for a reason.
Freddie Roach, his trainer for 20 years, said on Saturday night after the fight: “I hate to say this, but this could be it.”
Roach said the decision to retire ultimately rests on Pacquiao, who recently said “In the future you may not see me fight in the ring.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.