Manny Pacquiao could be showing early signs of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, Filipino doctors worry

Al Bello

Manny Pacquiao plans to continue fighting, but some Filipino doctors are concerned over their health of the national hero and sporting icon, worrying that more brain trauma in the ring could lead to severe health risks.

Doctors in the Philippines are worried that if Manny Pacquiao fights on and continues taking punishment, he could wind up with some major health problems down the line, including one doctor believing he's seeing early warning signs of Parkinson's disease during Pacquiao's interviews.

Dr. Rustico Jimenez says that he hasn't examined Pacquiao or seen what's troubling him up close, but that in interviews he has noticed changes in Manny:

"Even though his reflexes are quick, I noticed the movement - it's just another view, my personal view - but it seems like there are early signs. There are some movements that you will notice with his hands. It's in the hands, and not the head, where you can easily see this. It twitches a little bit. Although I haven't seen it up close, I think I am seeing that there are some signs."

Another doctor, Dr. Raquel Fortun, is "not convinced" by the CT scan results from Pacquiao's post-fight exam following his knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez:

"When the brain gets shook like that, it's very dangerous. Since it's not truly fixed to you skull, when your brain gets shaken, there are connections that get cut off, and you get small hemorrhages."

... The forensic expert expressed alarm over reports that Pacquiao allegedly had a slight seizure after falling unconscious from Marquez's hammer blow to the head.

Pacquiao, 34, has been fighting professionally since 1995 and though he hasn't taken major, headline-worthy punishment in recent fights beyond the knockout against Marquez, his career has seen him in plenty of wars, and even in dominant performances against guys like Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, and Joshua Clottey, Pacquiao did take punishment.

It's easy, I think, to write this off as sensationalist reporting from doctors who don't have medical proof of anything going on with Pacquiao, but there is reason to worry about Manny or any fighter in his position on these matters. It's a sobering thought that Pacquiao could wind up with Parkinson's or Alzheimer's or other problems, but it's also one of the cold, hard realities of boxing. It happens, and the diseases don't ignore the famous or most successful fighters.

(Thanks to Anton Tabuena for translations.)

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