Even though we haven't talked much about it, it hasn't been the best week or so in Manny Pacquiao news.
Speaking with Ronnie Nathanielsz, Manny Pacquiao very briefly addressed the concerns about his firing of VisionQwest, which opened up a lot of rumors about Pacquiao's financial situation.
BoxingScene/Inquirer asked Pacquiao about reports that he has been gambling heavily and losing a lot of money. His reply, "I just play billiards. If there is anybody who writes nasty stories about me let God take care of them. I won’t file charges against them and I am not angry with them. Let them write and write but there’s a God above and whatever heights I reach its because God wishes it, not me. Let him handle it."
Confronted about a spate of negative stories over his firing of the VisionQwest accounting firm which allegedly discovered some financial discrepancies Pacquiao said "we had a problem and I don’t like what happened. It's difficult to talk about this. But they know the reason why."
The stories have varied and mostly sit in the rumor stage, but the harshest of the concerns about Pacquiao's finances are that he's spending more than he can bring in. Not broke like regular people broke, but broke for Manny Pacquiao.
Freddie Roach told Brin-Jonathan Butler, the fillmmaker who did the Guillermo Rigondeaux documentary, that Pacquiao is "broke" due to his political career and his inability to say no:
One thing that caught me by surprise was when Freddie Roach touched on Manny's political run back in the Philippines. "He's broke because of that and all the people he flies around to his fights. He goes through money like you wouldn't believe. He can't say no."
... Freddie had his suspicions about where all of Pacquiao's generosity will get him, "Of course he'll have to keep fighting. He does now. He won't be able to stop. But it's his life."
Pacquiao, who turns 33 in December, has entered rare air as a sports celebrity in recent years. Not only is he a pay-per-view hit in the United States, but he's popular across the world, and a sports icon in the Philippines the likes of which many of us in different countries can't ever properly comprehend. There, he dwarfs the likes of even Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods in the United States at their peaks.
But greater men than Pacquiao have been undone by poor money handling. For those who aren't wrestling fans, you don't need to be one to appreciate the story of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling for four decades, considered by many to be the greatest of all-time in his industry, who is now a struggling old man. It has happened, of course, to countless great boxers. It will happen to many of the men we consider great in today's game, and make no mistake, Manny Pacquiao could be one of them.
What's worrisome about all of this is pretty obvious, of course. It's never fun to watch once-great fighters so broke they have to sacrifice their bodies to pay the bills in the twilight years of their professional careers. Remember what Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones Jr used to be? A lot of people have started to forget. Even guys who weren't quite so big in the name brand department, like Joel Casamayor, now continue to fight past their expiration date because they have to do so. There's really no other option. Shane Mosley has looked awful in three straight fights, and yet there's no indication he's going to hang up the gloves. The list could go on and on.
Are we that far off from talking about "the shell of Manny Pacquiao" when his name comes up to be fed to some hungry young fighter? It's a sobering thought in the face of Manny mania. He is, indeed, a great fighter. But he is a fighter, and even further than that, just a man like the rest of us.
It might be wise to take the over when it comes to how many more fights Manny Pacquiao has left in his career.