After Manny Pacquiao's sixth-round knockout courtesy of Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8, the only realistic option on the table is to fight his Mexican nemesis for a fifth time.
Some believe Pacquiao should retire after his crushing defeat at the MGM Grand, but it is ultimately his choice, and don't tell me the fourth fight between Pac-Man and Marquez wasn't thrilling.
I'm probably in the minority (considering I was in the minority for Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV), but I believe a fifth fight would be another classic duel. The fact of the matter is, Pacquiao was beating Marquez before Marquez's thudding counterpunch in the sixth round. There is still a lot to fight for against Marquez, and it's not out of the question that the Filipino defeats his longtime rival if the two choose to touch gloves again.
But it's about more than what the fans want. Pacquiao, one of the greatest boxers of this generation, has earned the right to do whatever he wants to close out his sterling career.
He became the first eight-division world champion in boxing history, giving us some memorable fights against the likes of Marquez, Erik Morales, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. No matter how his career ends, he should always be remembered for what he gave boxing fans.
Now, if there are issues with the 34-year-old's health moving forward, I would argue he should retire. We've seen too many boxers suffer long-term damage by going beyond their physical limits in the ring.
But if Pacquiao is healthy enough to enter the ring again, he reserves the right to do so. When you have a boxer with Pacquiao's history, it goes beyond the fans or the media or the money. It becomes about him, and him alone. If Pacquiao chooses to hang up his gloves, we should respect that. If he chooses to fight again, we should respect that, as well.
Why? Because Pacquiao has proven to be one of the most respectable boxers inside and outside of the ring during his career. He deserves as much.
What are your thoughts?