Manny Pacquiao lost a controversial decision to Jeff Horn in July. And regardless of what we think about the verdict, that version of Pacquiao appeared to be a far cry from the PacMan we are accustomed to.
Although punchstats insist Manny should have been awarded the decision, they don't accurately reflect the fight's tone. And while most believe Manny deserved to win, something was missing.
He was presumably given the perfect opponent to shine against. Yes, many of us thought it would be Pacquiao vs Brandon Rios and Pacquiao vs Chris Algieri all over again. But this Manny Pacquiao was different, and not in a good way. Nevertheless, PacMan wasted no time in insisting he would exercise his rematch clause.
Let's fast forward to today...
We've heard promises of a Horn rematch but nothing has materialized nor is Manny's return confirmed. In fact, last month it was announced Manny's obligations in the Senate would prevent the Horn rematch from happening this year.
Does Manny's predicament remind us of another fight legend's earlier this year?
Enter Wladimir Klitschko - another fight legend who lost in 2017.
Like Pacquiao, Klitschko, after losing to Anthony Joshua in April, immediately announced he'd exercise his rematch clause. The rematch was a 'go' and the only outstanding questions were its date and location.
...Or so it seemed.
Like the Pacquiao vs Horn rematch, location was seemingly the first obstacle. Wlad said he didn't want to fight Joshua in the UK just as Team Pacquiao has reservations about facing Horn in Australia again. In Wlad's case, location disputes may have been used as a rouse to buy Klitschko enough time to give his comeback more thought.
Keep in mind, Klitschko seemed to be waffling on his decision to return to boxing. First, he wanted the rematch and the fight was close to being signed, and then retirement seemed like the better choice.
...And then he wanted the rematch again and the fight was (allegedly) days from being announced.
Ultimately, Klitschko retired to pursue business and political interests dear to him.
Political interests... Seem familiar?
Should we expect Manny to make a similar decision?
Even promoter Bob Arum is now starting to have doubts about Pacquiao's return.
"Manny is being groomed to be the president of the Philippines," said Arum in a recent interview with BoxingScene.com.
"He's a full-time senator, I mean, in Manny's world he's not a full-time boxer and therefore, I offered him the fight with Jeff Horn in Brisbane, the rematch, and he's not willing to go to Brisbane,"
"I don't know if or when Manny will fight again but I know that the reason for his disinterest in boxing is because he's devoting himself really, really full-time to his duties as a senator."
Pacquiao and Klitschko: The knock on Manny
In addition to Pacquiao and Wlad's similar situations, there's one glaring difference: Klitschko looked great against Joshua so a return bout presumably made more sense in the case of the former.
In an epic heavyweight bout and Fight of the Year candidate, Wlad fought intelligently, looked immaculately prepared and appeared to follow a well-constructed game plan as he arose from the canvas to nearly knockout the top-rated heavyweight in the world. Simply put, it was one of his best performances yet Wlad still opted against the rematch.
For Manny, the Horn fight was anything but sensational and may have been his most disappointing showing given the competition.
Given all the similarities this year between fight legends Klitschko and Pacquiao and Wlad’s ultimate decision, their contrasting performances in their most recent bouts is all the more reason why Pacquiao hang 'em up.
Should Pacquiao retire and forego the Horn rematch, his legacy won't be tarnished a bit by the controversial loss to the Aussie.
In the end...
For a wealthy boxing legend who has nothing to prove, the upside to avenging a loss and getting another big pay day is sometimes not worth the grueling training and the many risks of stepping in the ring again.
... Especially when that fighter has big dreams outside of boxing.
Manny Pacquiao highlights