According to Team Pacquiao PR man, Aquiles Zonio, the rejection was a no-brainer because the proposal was downright insulting. To them and we're sure to many others as well, the idea of a boxing icon like Manny fighting in a support bout—especially for a main event featuring Horn, whom the former has an ugly history with—is as preposterous as Mocha's anti-EDSA rally poll.
The reactions to Pacquiao's refusal, however, are mixed as others say the aging legend should just accept that his days as a headliner are already behind him. There are reports saying that internal turmoil in his camp had led to this murky situation but we'll leave it that. We're sticking to the main issue, which is whether or not Manny Pacquiao deserves to be relegated to an undercard fighter.
With that out of the way, take a look at the differing parties most legit arguments and see who's really got this one correctly.
PAC SHOULD'VE ACCEPTED THE UNDERCARD BECAUSE:
He's not an exciting fighter anymore
Manny's legacy as one of the greatest, most revered boxers of all time was built on how exciting his fighting style was. In his heyday, he captured the world's attention with his explosive hands and feet. In perfect contrast of his affable personality, the people adored him even more. But now that Father Time has caught up with him, Manny has undeniably slowed down. Look, he hasn't knocked out anyone since 2009 and it doesn't look like he can still do it. With Manny visibly losing grip of his greatest edge as a boxer, it's understandable that fans, especially casual ones, would no longer consider him as a main event guy.
Box office decline
Gone are the days when raking in a million PPV buys was a regular thing for Pacman bouts. Depending on who you ask, Manny's last PPV fight ( vs Jessie Vargas in 2016) barely cracked 300,000 purchases. Nevertheless, the figure was an all-time low for him. Numbers don't lie, Manny's draw isn't good enough for a headlining gig anymore.
Who's he fighting anyway?
At this late stage of Manny's fighting career, we can't blame Team Pacquiao for not picking the best competition available. Given the tremendous mileage in his engine, his camp is not at fault for picking boxers tailor made for him. With that said, the people cannot be blamed as well for not buzzing too much about Manny's fights these days. Yes, Pacman classics were blockbuster hits mostly because he was the A-side. But it's wrong to say that those fights had reaped zero hype out of Manny's famous adversaries: Morales, Marquez, De La Hoya, Cotto, Margarito, to name a few. Can't say the same about his shortlist of prospective opponents these days. Old Pac vs a relative unknown—definitely not main event quality.
He lost to Horn
Why would Manny feel insulted to be in an undercard for Jeff Horn? He lost to the Australian brawler anyway. Like any other fighter, Manny should learn how to take a loss. Accept it, move on and start from scratch like any other fighter must do. But hey, is Manny Pacquiao like any other fighter?
PAC IS RIGHT TO DECLINE THE OFFER BECAUSE:
He still has an X-factor
The thought of dropping Manny off headliner status just because he's no longer knocking people out is shallow. Yes, the Pambansang Kamao became a megastar, in large part, because fighting like a raging demon used to be his MO. But all that aggression without technical proficiency would've only taken him so far. If Manny was a one-dimensional, all power guy, do you think he would've masterfully outfought Morales, De La Hoya, Cotto and Margarito? Manny is definitely a surgeon in that ring. It may not have shown in his meeting with Jeff Horn (the reasons will be discussed later), but he had it on full display prior to that tiff. With his power eroding, Manny's got no choice but to rely on his technical wizardry to win his last fights. This is the time to appreciate his mastery of the sweet science more than ever. We say put that man and his still impressive skill set in the main event.
Manny belongs with the greatest legends in sporting history. The electrifying ring performances, the record-setting accomplishments, the unforgettable moments forged by his fists, had all made him a global phenomenon. At the peak of Manny's powers, only Muhammad Ali may have been a bigger, much more beloved athlete. With that in mind, can you still say he deserves to be an undercard fighter just because he's at the tail end of his run? Come on, you've got to give the man the respect he's earned for carrying the sport of boxing. His fellow top-tier legends, Ali, Tyson, De La Hoya, Chavez, Mayweather, they never returned to the undercards after becoming boxing icons, even by the time they've gone past their prime. So, why should Manny? If PPV buys aren't coming in, just put him on free TV. Just don't disrespect a boxing god by demoting him to the undercards.
He's not fighting bums
Manny's no longer fighting top pound for pound guys but he's not fighting tomato cans either. His opponents for his last five bouts: Chris Algieri (sneaky slick), Floyd Mayweather (TBE), Tim Bradley (very savvy), Jessie Vargas (real solid), Jeff Horn (big rugged brawler). For a boxer in his late 30s, Manny had actually faced tough competition. And now that he is even older, whoever his next foe may be will surely pose a serious challenge. That element right there makes for a nerve-wracking main event.
His loss to Horn is questionable
Saying that Manny should've accepted the undercard offer because he, after all, lost to the headliner may sound accurate but the truth is it's more complicated than that. Yes, he dropped a close one, partly because he likely underestimated Horn and only got down to business in the second half of the fight, but it's also undeniable that the Australian brawler's dirty tactics factored in immensely on the upset. It wasn't hard to see that his opponent elbowed, headbutted and shoulder blocked his way to weakening and getting Manny all bloodied up. But despite all that, many fans and boxing pundits, including ESPN's ringside analyst for Pacquiao-Horn, Teddy Atlas still believed that Manny was robbed of the victory. With the facts laid out, you'd get why being in the undercard for a Jeff Horn bout leaves such a bad taste in Pacman's mouth.
Going back and forth through this writing, we've ultimately decided to take Manny's side. Why? Well, respeto lang.