Manny Pacquiao's boxing career is on borrowed time


Manny Pacquiao’s apparent victory over Australian Jeff Horn on Saturday in Brisbane was viewed by judges as a defeat.

Those men were flawed in their scoring, but accurate in their assessment that Pacquiao has lost.

The 38-year-old’s reduction in attention, in reflexes and in his inability to finish a wounded and obscure foe officially sent the former seven-division world champion downward on the way to a retirement that will arrive at some inevitable date.

Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later given Pacquiao’s important work in the Philippines as a senator. He’s sought to achieve important work, such as improving health care, education and a drug crisis.

Boxing has never looked less important in Pacquiao’s life as it does now.

Judges Waleska Roldan (117-111), Chris Flores (115-113) and Ramon Cerdan (115-113) awarded 2012 Olympian Horn (17-0-1) a unanimous-decision victory in a bout that looked more like a 116-112 Pacquiao triumph. Pacquiao said he respected “the opinions of the judges” and planned to invoke a rematch clause to fight the new World Boxing Organization welterweight champion later this year, likely around November.

There will be sufficient financial reasons for staging such a bout, starting with the Pacquiao record crowd of 51,052 who came to watch the legend versus their underdog countryman.

ESPN reported Pacquiao-Horn as the highest-rated bout on cable since 2010.

But Pacquiao is now clearly on borrowed time.

He still hasn’t knocked out an opponent since 2009. He failed to deliver the patented combinations and rapid hand and footwork that defined him. He absorbed hard punches from 5/1 underdog Horn, especially in the early rounds, and was cut on both sides of his head by butts in the sixth and seventh rounds.

Pacquiao’s ninth-round beating of Horn should’ve won him the bout, and would’ve ended it even a few years ago. The referee urged Horn to “show me something” after a doctor’s inspection, and even while blood gushed from his nose and near his right eye, Horn survived and backed Pacquiao to the ropes late in the 12th round.

Afterward, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum told Pacquiao in his dressing room: “Take your time. Think about it. Look at it. And we’ll discuss it in a week or two.”

With age 39 arriving in December and the toll of the senate work diminishing Pacquiao even from his two sharp showings last year against Timothy Bradley and Jessie Vargas, that private inspection will be worth watching.

Age has again gotten the best of another great fighter.

It might’ve been tempting to consider a Pacquiao rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. if Pacquiao had stopped Horn impressively and Mayweather does what most everyone expects him to do in his Aug. 26 boxing match against Conor McGregor.

Almost sadly, Mayweather’s advisor, Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions, who formerly would pick apart Pacquiao in every mention, expressed shock that Pacquiao lost. Perhaps that was a hint the rematch was in mind.

“Anyone can have a bad night,” Ellerbe tweeted.

Jeff Horn of Australia basks in victory after winning a title bout against Manny Pacquiao.

Chris Hyde / Getty Images

Jeff Horn of Australia basks in victory after winning a title bout against Manny Pacquiao.

Jeff Horn of Australia basks in victory after winning a title bout against Manny Pacquiao. (Chris Hyde / Getty Images)

CANELO AND THE GREEN BELT: There are three middleweight belts on the line Sept. 16 when unbeaten champion Gennady Golovkin meets Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas, but Alvarez says for now he has no interest in the one offered by the sanctioning body of his own country, the World Boxing Council.

Alvarez is miffed that WBC Chairman Mauricio Sulaiman stripped the belt from him in May 2016 after Alvarez failed to strike a deal to defend his belt against Golovkin, who had twice previously stepped aside for a chance at that belt.

At the North American Boxing Federation convention in San Diego on Saturday, Sulaiman said he will seek to resolve the disagreement by immediately reaching out to Eric Gomez, the president of Alvarez’s promoter, Golden Boy.

“It is very difficult to defend yourself when you did not do something wrong,” Sulaiman said in pointing out that he believed Alvarez and Golovkin had ample time to negotiate a bout — as they did before Alvarez’s May bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. — before Alvarez fought Amir Khan in May 2016.

“We had mediated a solution, signed an agreement and Canelo brought Golovkin into the ring and said, ‘Let’s do it,’ so we ordered the fight.”

Maybe Alvarez thought Sulaiman would relent to his popular countryman, but the son of a leader who was disparaged for allowing too many such favors drew a line.

“We’re positive and friendly and we are for the boxer before, during and after his career, but there are rules,” Sulaiman said of Alvarez, a former WBC Youth, NABF, WBC silver and two-division world champion.

Golden Boy Chairman Oscar De La Hoya and Gomez have said they’ll seek to intervene and strike a peace so the WBC belt can go to either winner of the Sept. 16 bout.

Sulaiman said he’s happy to discuss the situation with Alvarez.

“It is my responsibility to look for him for a meeting,” Sulaiman said. “There is nothing to hide, and it was this fight that created the problem in the first place with Canelo. It’s happening now. It’s a reality. So it’s the right time.”

ANOTHER ONE … : An already loaded UFC 214 card at Honda Center on July 29 has risen to the deepest of the year with UFC President Dana White telling The Times on Sunday that he’ll move the welterweight bout between former champion Robbie Lawler and rugged Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone from Saturday’s originally planned date, scrapped by a Cerrone injury.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire



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