The "Pacman" has retired

Manny Pacquiao, age 37, retired on Saturday night in Las Vegas after defeating Timothy Bradley in a 12-round decision that saw Pacquiao knock Bradley to the canvas twice. It was the third fight of a trilogy, one that probably never should have been a trilogy in the first place by virtue of the egregious scoring controversy in the first fight, but it was also the end of any chance Pacquiao would rematch Floyd Mayweather.

That's probably a good thing for the sport of boxing. While both Pacquiao and Mayweather are easily first-ballot Hall of Famers and two of the best fighters the sport has ever seen, it doesn’t seem likely there would be, or even should be, much interest in seeing the two men tussle again.

Pacquiao vs. Mayweather was the most watched fight in boxing history, the highest grossing, the most extravagant, and the most hyped bout of this generation, if not all generations.

But Pacquiao facing Mayweather again in 2016 would be even worse than him facing Mayweather in 2015, when the fight finally happened after way too many years of speculation.

Neither Pacquiao nor Mayweather were at their best when they fought last year, and while Mayweather would very likely have been the favorite at any time during the two fighters’ careers, the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather promotion that would have been good for boxing, and not the huge letdown the 2015 fight turned out to be, would have been back in 2010 when both men looked to be in top condition.

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That version of Pacquiao would have given any version of Mayweather trouble, though Mayweather’s great defense and counterpunching might always be the balm for Pacquiao’s aggressiveness. Still, that the fight happened 5 years too late isn’t a terrible thing altogether. After all, fans and historians no longer have to imagine the two most important fighters of the generation going head-to-head. Mayweather defeated Pacquiao.

He will likely rank higher historically, and he deserves it.

But Pacquiao vs. Mayweather 2 would be a huge waste of time. Instead, should either retired athlete choose a return to the sport of boxing, it would probably be better to seek out new challenges. Mayweather, the preeminent fighter of the era, would be better served by trying to capture a lineal middleweight title, the one currently held by Canelo Alvarez who Mayweather defeated in 2013 by 12-round majority decision.

Mayweather’s older now, and Alvarez is a better fighter now than he was back then, too.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, probably has more unfinished business with Juan Manuel Marquez than any other rival. Pacquiao is 2-1-1 against Marquez, but was knocked out by the Mexican in Round 6 of their last fight. Other options include rising stars Terence Crawford and Jessie Vargas.

Of course, the best possible outcome for both Pacquiao and Mayweather, and probably boxing, too, is that they stay retired.

It’s time for a new generation of boxing stars to step out from the shadows and take boxing into the next decade. The era of Pacquiao and Mayweather was a great one, but it’s over now.

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