HOLLYWOOD – Manny Pacquiao, fully recovered from the trauma of his most humiliating setback in his eight-year rivalry with Juan Manuel Marquez on Sunday (Monday in Manila), insisted a fifth showdown with the Mexican champion may happen next year.
Discounting talks of retirement and his involvement with a religious group, the Filipino icon said he is more than ready to climb into the ring again and seek redemption for his Sunday defeat that shocked the world.
“Oo, puwede pa ako (Yes, I still can),” said Pacquiao, doing a little bit of shadow-boxing in the narrow aisle of the Team Pacquiao bus that brought him back to Los Angeles from Las Vegas.
Pacquiao said he can return to the ring on April 20, a date that’s already been red-marked by Top Rank, whether it’s for a fifth fight with Marquez or against someone else like Brandon Rios.
“Pwede (Could be),” said Pacquiao, despite calls for him to retire.
It was less than 24 hours after Pacquiao suffered a scary knockout at the hands of Marquez at the MGM Grand, and yet he was already in high spirits.
In a short span, Pacquiao has accepted the loss.
“That’s sports. You win some, you lose some. Kung ayaw mo matalo, huwag ka na lumaban. Tanggapin natin (If you don’t want to lose, don’t fight. Let’s accept it),” said the boxer in his favorite Louis Vuitton jacket.
Pacquiao told Manila scribes gathered around him that Saturday’s knockout reminded him of a similar loss he suffered against Rustico Torrecampo on Feb. 9, 1996.
It was the first loss of Pacquiao’s career, and he said it was a similar punch that left him sprawled on the canvas.
“Marquez caught me flush on the chin. Parang (Like) Torrecampo. Diretso sa baba (right on the chin). If only he hit me in the jaw I knew I could get up like the first knockdown,” Pacquiao said.
“Pero iba kapag sa baba (But it’s different when it’s on the chin). I remembered hitting the canvas hard,” he said.
“But let’s accept the loss. Marquez deserved the victory. Nasingitan niya ako (He sneaked in a punch),” said Pacquiao, who flies to Manila tonight and will be there Wednesday.
Pacquiao reflected on the final moments of his fourth fight with Marquez.
“I was wrong doing that double-fake. Napasubsob ako (I lunged). It’s like going head on with that right straight. Salubong talaga eh (I ran smack into it),” he said.
Pacquiao said what makes him feel bad is that he had the upper hand when the end came, despite the fact that he was knocked down in the third round.
He floored Marquez in the fifth, and hit the Mexican with good shots. He felt he broke Marquez’s nose, which was already oozing blood when the end came.
Pacquiao said if only he escaped the sixth round, the knockout coming in the 2:59 mark, he would have gone for the kill in the succeeding rounds.
“Basag na ilong ni Marquez (His nose was broken). He was breathing heavily because of his broken nose. Nadidinig ko hinga niya (I could hear him breath). I was told his corner was already giving him one more round,” said Pacquiao.
“I would have finished him off in rounds seven or eight. I was feeling good. I felt fine. There was no sign of the cramps that have bugged me in the previous fights starting in the fourth round or so,” he said.
“Sayang talaga (What a waste). I was warming up,” he said smiling.
Pacquiao said he always went for the knockout because that’s what he promised the people.
“Did you notice each time the bell rings, I wanted to rush to him? Panay nga hawak sa akin ng referee eh (the referee kept holding on to me). I wanted action. I wanted to trade the big shots. Then he got lucky,” he said.
Pacquiao said he wanted no less than a knockout and wouldn’t have accepted winning another decision. He said a day before the fight that “it’s either him or me.”
“Puwede naman manalo pero pangit na laban. Ayoko nun (It could have been a win but not a good fight. I don’t want that.). I hope the people were happy with this fight.”
There are already calls for a fifth fight, although during the past week both camps have said this should be the last.
But Pacquiao vs Marquez is the type of fight the public wants to see.
“Tingnan natin (Let’s see),” said Pacquiao, who will celebrate his son’s birthday on Wednesday, and then his own on Dec. 17.
Pacquiao was smiling when he boarded the bus with wife Jinkee, and walked down the aisle, checking on the passengers.
"Gusto ko lang kayo i-check (I'm just checking on you)," said Pacquiao, who greeted fellow boxers Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr, Michael Farenas and Ernie Sanchez.
“O, kurdapyo (Hey Jerk)," he kidded Sanchez.
Farenas, who floored the heavily-favored Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa in the undercard but lost by decision, said Pacquiao promised all of them a Christmas bonus.
The Pacquiao couple occupied the front seats during the five-hour trip that included a stopover at Barstow. On the road, they had a steak dinner at Denny's.
Over a dozen cars followed the bus throughout the journey. During the stop at a Chevron gas station, the entourage trooped to a convenience store for snacks. The tab: $389.
The last time he rode the Team Pacquiao bus from Vegas was for the Miguel Cotto fight. He was a winner then.