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Pacquiao at 40 has enough left to rip WBA belt from unbeaten Thurman


Sean Nam


OUT on the sunbaked Las Vegas strip on Saturday afternoon, several passersby shared in the assumption that Manny Pacquiao had long retired from the pursuit of professional boxing, and really, who could blame them for thinking that?

In truth, the assumption made a lot of sense. The name of arguably the era’s most accomplished fighter had been flittering around the mainstream for nearly two decades, an eternity in the breakneck continuum of pop-culture relevancy. The mid-aughts triptych of Barrera-Morales-Marquez, fights so brutally honest that they beckoned belief in violence, was not so long ago, yet at the same time it appeared distant, faded, encrusted in amber. Manny Pacquiao… The name was a harbinger of yesteryear. “Pacquiao is fighting tonight?” One perplexed Delta airline worker asked, when informed of the night’s central act. “Didn’t he retire? I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that he retired.”

Such thinking is understandable. If we didn’t exactly read about Pacquiao’s retirement in the news, we had at least thought about it at one point or another, especially as his career began to unravel along a predictable path. There was the frightening knockout in 2012, when Juan-Manuel Marquez, his greatest rival, rendered him motionless on the mat like the aftermath of a Prohibition-era hit job.

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