Upon seeing her husband, Manny Pacquiao, laying first-first and motionless after December’s sixth-round stoppage loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, the beaten fighter’s wife was “disturbed” and “hysterical,” said Top Rank CEO Bob Arum.
“Of all of Manny’s fights, that was the first time that I saw him knocked down,” said Jinkee Pacquiao, during the first episode of HBO’s 24/7 in advance of Pacquiao’s Nov. 23 welterweight bout with Brandon Rios.
“In the few seconds that he didn’t get up, I am worried and afraid … After the fight, I did ask him to retire. But Manny still wanted to fight. So whatever it is, we will support his decision.”
Pacquiao will fight on against Rios, even as his trainer, Freddie Roach, has said that if his fighter lost, “it might it might be time to stop,” and that he would be ready to discuss retirement options.
“I just stood up and was looking at Manny laying there, and was just like, ‘come on, move,’” said Roach, referring to the stoppage loss to Marquez. “A lot of things have happened in boxing, but that was the scariest moment of my life.”
But leaving the game is often a difficult subject for successful boxers, said George Foreman, who was 45 when his 10th-round knockout of Michael Moorer made him the oldest man to win a heavyweight title in November of 1994.
“I think that the hardest thing for any boxer is to retire,” said Foreman, who ended a 10-year ring absence in March of 1987 before retiring for good in Novemer of 1997.
“You almost have to pull a fighter out of there. We don’t like to retire. … I don’t think that’s going to be in [Pacquiao's] mind, and even if it is, it will disappear quickly.”
Sugar Ray Leonard considered retirement after losing a 15-round unanimous decision to Roberto Duran in June of 1980.
But not only did Leonard return to avenge that loss by eighth-round stoppage, he did not end his career until March of 1997 following a fifth-round knockout loss to Hector Camacho.
“I contemplated retirement, naturally, because of the physical fight. It was so physical and it just didn’t feel good,” said Leonard. “I went home and went on vacation and cleared my head and came back.”
Leonard’s career was marked by several re-starts, including a 27-month retirement that ended with a ninth-round knockout of Kevin Howard in May of 1984.
Leonard was dropped during the Howard fight and retired, yet again, afterwards, only to end a more than three-year ring absence by defeating Marvin Hagler for the WBC’s middleweight title by 12-round split decision in April of 1987.
“It all depends on how you lose that last fight. That plays a role in your decision-making,” said Leonard, who was dropped twice during a unanimous decision loss to Terry Norris in February of 1991 — his last fight before losing to Camacho.
“[Retirement] is the hardest thing, like George said. After a loss, you try to fix that. You try to repair that. As a fighter, you go back. You go back time and time again, even if you win, because that win becomes seductive, so you go back.”
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Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com