By Jake Donovan
Prior to their fourth fight last December, many questioned why Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez were fighting each other again. The action produced in their six rounds of war left fans breathless and suddenly anxious for a fifth fight.
If reports from the Philippines are to be believed, then there might not be any more fights at all in Pacquiao’s future.
Two separate neurologists in the Philippines have expressed outside concern over Pacquiao’s health, both citing possible evidence of early signs of Parkinson’s disease, ABS-CBN News reported on Thursday. Neither has personally examined the former eight-division champion, but their own observation of the fighter during televised interviews prompted a sudden response.
Dr. Rustico Jimenez, President of Private Hospital Association of the Philippines, expressed his concerns over the fighter’s health during a recent radio interview
“If you ask my opinion, maybe it’s time for our national hero Manny (Pacquiao) to retire,” Dr. Jimenez stated on radio station dzMM in the Philippines. “Even though he still shows fast reflexes, I’ve recently noticed – and this is just another view, my personal observation – there are early signs.
“You can see it in the hand movements. It’s usually the hands and not immediately in the head where you can easily see a little twitch. Although I am not seeing this up close, I am seeing there are some early signs,” continued Dr. Jimenez, who also referenced the continued deteriorating condition of Muhammad Ali as well as Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach.
The concern has come in the wake of Pacquiao’s vicious 6th round knockout loss at the hands of longtime in-ring rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their epic fourth encounter last December. The fight garnered multiple awards – including Fight of the Year and Knockout of the Year – in addition to playing in front of a sold out MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and generating well over 1 million pay-per-view units sold.
Many have clamored for a fifth fight, ironic considering that pre-fight chatter questioned why a fourth fight even needed to take place.
However, the frightening image of Pacquiao laid out face first on the canvas at the end of the sixth round raised immediate concerns from fight fans, as well as family members. His wife, Jinkee called for his retirement a couple of weeks after the fight, at a time when CT scans came back negative for any lingering damage.
Despite the test results, Dr. Raquel Fortun – the leading forensics pathologist in the Philippines – wasn’t quite as convinced of the fighter’s health remaining in good standing.
“(The brain) is fragile. When it gets shook like that, it’s very dangerous. The brain – while it sits in the skull – is not truly fixed to the skull. When the brain jolts, there are broken connections and you get small hemorrhages,” Dr. Fortun told ABS-CBN News in a previous interview.
The knockout loss capped a largely forgettable year for Pacquiao, who turned 34 a week after the fight.
Earlier in 2012, Pacquiao suffered a highly controversial points loss to Tim Bradley, his first defeat since 2005, thus ending a 15 fight win streak. At no point in his eventual Hall of Fame career has Pacquiao lost two fights in a row, with the Dec. 8 outcome marking his first stoppage loss in more than a decade.
Pacquiao is presently away on vacation and was unavailable for comment. Promoter Bob Arum is also away on a separate vacation, unaware of the news and already planning to discuss the future with Pacquiao “once I’m home in the states next week and once Manny is home in the Philippines.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox