In boxing fighters can age at different rates.
Some boxers take so much damage early in their career that their boxing career at the highest level is cut short. I’ve seen boxers who took so much damage in their 20s and had to retire before the age of 30.
Manny Pacquiao’s legendary trainer Freddie Roach was one of those boxers who took so much damage. Roach was the type of fighter who would take a lot of punches just to deliver one punch. He currently deals with Parkinson’s disease which causes him to tremble constantly and believes the punishment he took in the ring could have caused it.
Roach was only 26 years old when he hung up the gloves.
Pacquiao is a fighter who was much more explosive than Roach and relied on his speed and agility to win fights.
His offense is his defense. As Pacquiao got older he started taking more and more punishment in the ring because he couldn’t move out of the way fast enough and his reflexes were slightly diminishing.
Prime Pacquiao would get in and out and before you could unleash a punch he would throw a combo on you to prevent you from even trying to retaliate.
That version of Pacquiao that would ambush you and explode on you with a flurry of hard fast punches is long gone.
The Pacquiao today still has enough speed and power to keep fighters honest, but his stamina and reflexes are the main issue. He has become more of a calculated boxer, who chooses the moments when to explode and conserve his energy.
In his last fight with WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman in July of 2019, he took a lot of punishment. I believe he was hit with the most power punches in a single fight in his entire career. He also got tired and would spend many of the rounds trying to recover his stamina.
Don’t get me wrong, Pacquiao put on heck of a performance beating a 30-year-old in his prime undefeated puncher in Keith Thurman to become the oldest welterweight champion in history.
A 40-year-old Pacquiao was able to drop Thurman in the first round and hurt him to the body in round ten, but the old man just couldn’t finish the show. He got tired after trying to chase Thurman after hurting him and the Pac-Man of old would have devoured Thurman the moment he saw him take his mouthpiece out and walk back in pain from a body shot.
We may have seen the last great performance of the legendary Filipino southpaw, as fans we must be prepared for that time when he shows his age and loses to a younger foe.
Pacquiao’s age could show overnight. He took a lot of punishment from Thurman and the year of inactivity at the age of 41, could show up in the ring in his next fight.
It’s something we must accept as fans that our boxing hero is no longer the same. Pacquiao must also accept that father time is undefeated and retire while his faculties are still intact.