Dubai: Boxing legend Larry Holmes has warned fight fans not to take Manny Pacquiao's retirement hint too seriously.
Pacquiao told a Manila-based radio station on Monday that God had told him in a dream to hang up his gloves. The 33-year-old Filipino said: "I will not stay long in boxing because he [God] said: ‘You have done enough. You have made yourself famous but this is harmful."
The winner of 54 fights, 38 by knockout with three losses, two draws from 59 bouts added that a major announcement would be made shortly regarding his future.
The comments raise serious doubt over whether a long awaited bout with Floyd Mayweather will now ever happen. But Holmes, 62, who held heavyweight world titles from 1978 to 1985, with 20 successful title defences in between, second only to Joe Louis, told Gulf News: "I think Pacquiao and Mayweather will still fight. It may take a little more time and a little more money but I think it will still happen. These latest comments are just to raise suspense."
"It would be good for boxing and it would help the sport if these two fought because nobody else is really left in boxing at the moment that everybody still knows," he said.
"It's a big fight but I don't think it's the end of the world if it never happens. It's a good fight and a lot of people are going to make a lot of money but it's not the end of boxing if it doesn't go ahead because one man can't stop the show," he said.
Holmes, who famously beat Mohammad Ali and fell one short of matching Rocky Marciano's 49 straight win record added of Pacquiao: "He knows his body, he knows what he wants. I don't know whether he still needs the money but he's fought a lot. If he don't want to fight no more hey I feel good about that. Boxing is not for everybody if you stay in it too long you get hurt."
"If they never fight it wont be Pacquiao's fault. Every time they came round to fighting Mayweather put his excuses in," said the Easton Assassin who fought 75, won 69, 44 by knock-out, with six losses.
"Pacquiao did all he can. He did all I would have done. I think Mayweather just got a little too scared if you ask me. If he thinks Pacquiao is taking drugs so what, he should just say: ‘You take it, you kill yourself that isn't going to help you, because with my talent and ability I believe I can still beat you. But he was scared to take that challenge," he said.
"At the end of the day when you're the champ you're the champ. Pacquiao was the one going up a weight class for Mayweather not vice-versa, and Mayweather is the one who can't earn a big price unless he fights Pacquaio, not the other way around. Pacquaio is a good fighter the greatest of all time. People have always paid big money to watch his fights and always will," he said.
Pacquaio faces Timothy Bradley on June 9 while Mayweather takes on Miguel Cotto May 5.
Should both fights go to plan and consequent negotiations succeed Mayweather and Pacquiao were tipped to meet as early as November 2012, but Pacquiao's latest comments have seriously jeopardised what's already being dubbed: "The greatest fight that never was".