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    Why the rush to return, champ?

    Jan 28, 2013
    We all want to see Manny Pacquiao back in the ring again, but we will not settle for anything less than the vintage Pacman or something close to that. Jerome Ascano

    PROMOTER Bob Arum is telling everyone that there is no economically viable arena available to host the fight, at least not in April. Just about every boxing expert worth his salt is advising him to take the time available and let the wounds of battle completely heal.

    But no, Pacquiao wants to lace on the gloves again, and he wants it in April. He has even expressed his willingness to fight in Manila if no other venue is available. A few years ago, such a thought would have been difficult to fathom: You know, nobody wanting to host a Pacquiao fight.

    Times have changed though, particularly after Pacquiao hit skid row in December when he fell in six rounds to Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez. With his career now hanging by a thread, the popular opinion is that Pacquiao should be more judicious in plotting his return to the throne.

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    It is so easy to say that machismo has a lot to do with Pacquiao's desire to immediately return. Before he swallowed the right hand that shocked the world, Pacquiao appeared to be on his way to a technical knockout victory over Marquez. Knocked down in the third, he rebounded strongly by flooring Marquez in the fifth round. Pacquiao was running rings around a banged-up Marquez when he got overexcited and walked into a huge right hand with one second left in the sixth round.

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    Suffice it to say, Pacquiao thinks Marquez just got lucky. The craving for an immediate return to the squared circle is anchored on emotion, the desire to erase in a snap of a finger the memories of that December ember.

    Oh, lest we forget, there is also the need for Pacquiao to recapture the image of a winner before he tosses his hat anew into the political arena in May. By the time he seeks re-election as a member of Congress, Pacquiao wants to be a winner again in the eyes of his constituents and this will only happen if he fights in April, a month before the national elections. Machismo aside, this is the real reason why Pacquiao wants an early return. And this is why this writer believes the Pacman needs a reality check.

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    The loss to Marquez was an accident waiting to happen. Heading into their fourth meeting, Pacquiao was no longer his old, ferocious self. The inner fire had been tempered, either by his newfound religion or political forays. Or perhaps by both. Bottom line, Pacquiao was too distracted when he fought Marquez.

    Over a month after the loss to Marquez, the distractions are still there. In fact, Pacquiao has not done anything to shake it off his system. What is more dangerous is that he still apparently believes he can get away with it again. At this stage in his career, when questions about his health and condition linger, that is a very perilous mindset.

    There is no urgency for Pacquiao to return as early as April. Note that after the loss to Marquez, Pacquiao was placed under 120-day medical suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. This means Pacquiao is prohibited from engaging in any boxing-related activity, particularly sparring, during the time of the suspension. The medical suspension was recently shortened by the commission and will be effective until March 9. However, the commission made it clear that Pacquiao cannot figure in any sparring until February 7. Unless Pacquiao has not been complying with the directive, this means that if he returns in April he would have had very little sparring. As in the Marquez fight, he would be cramming again.

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    It is easy to argue that Pacquiao need not train that hard because he would only be taking on a patsy if he returns in April. But here's the rub: There is no telling how much of Pacquiao's once towering confidence has been chopped off by Marquez's right hand. No fighter's confidence is the same after he goes through a harrowing experience like what Pacquiao went through. While Pacquiao may only end up fighting a trial horse in April, any diminution in the boxer's confidence will level the playing field. This means that while the patsy remains an underdog, he has more than a faint chance.

    Another reason for Pacquiao not to fight in April is the fact that two of the country's best champions today, Brian Viloria and Nonito Donaire, Jr., are also seeing action in April. Viloria will defend his WBA-WBO flyweight title against Mexican Juan Fransciso Estrada on April 6 in Macau while Donaire is mulling on an April 27 defense of his WBO super bantamweight crown against Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in Las Vegas. Whether he likes to admit it or not, Pacquiao will be reduced to third fiddle if he fights in the same month.

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    Pacquiao will get his revenge, but he has to be very judicious and patient in planning it. First things first, he has to get rid of all the excess luggage in his closet. We all want to see Pacquiao back in the ring again, but we will not settle for anything less than the vintage Pacman or something close to that.

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    We all want to see Manny Pacquiao back in the ring again, but we will not settle for anything less than the vintage Pacman or something close to that. Jerome Ascano
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