Manny Pacquiao underwent successful surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder last week, but the former world champion welterweight faces a long road to recovery and the ring. The 36-year-old Filipino southpaw injured the shoulder during an April 4 sparring session leading up to his mega-fight with the undefeated Floyd Mayweather, and he’s expected to miss nine to 12 months of action.
It’s a long stretch away from the ring but barring any sort of unforeseen setbacks, Pacquiao’s rehab should go smoothly thanks to the expertise of renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttratche.
A physician to sports and movie stars alike, ElAttratche famously repaired the shoulder of Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke and the torn Achilles tendon of Lakers All-Star shooting guard Kobe Bryant in a two-day span back in April 2013. He’s also operated on other top boxers like heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko and former welterweight titleholder Andre Berto.
ElAttratche first confirmed the tear to ESPN the Monday after the May 2 bout, which broke all previous records with a $300 million purse and 4.4 million pay-per-view buys.
ElAttratche reportedly said post-surgery that he “could not be more pleased” with the results, and that Pacquiao could resume training in four to six months, according to the Los Angeles Times.
After the surgery Pacquiao posted a picture to his official Instagram account, cracking a grin while also showing his shoulder in a black sling wrapped around his neck.
A torn rotator cuff completely hinders the everyday activities of the average person, let alone a former eight-division champion boxer. Even something as natural as sleeping is affected.
“It actually affects patients significantly,” Dr. Surena Namdari of the Pennsylvania-based Rothman Institute told Sports Illustrated last week. “Rotator cuff injuries cause pain in very regular, daily activities, and patients with rotator cuff injuries most commonly complain of difficulty sleeping at night or excessive pain while moving around in bed.
“If people feel that pain during such regular activities like sleeping, you can imagine how difficult it would be to deal with that pain during high-level activities like boxing.”
Namdari also said while the procedure is rather simple and only takes roughly an hour to an hour and a half to perform, the recovery time is at minimum six months before rehabilitation can begin. He also stated that for an elite athlete like Pacquiao, and given his age, a full year of recovery would be necessary for him to return to peak form.
Before Pacquiao, ElAttrache repaired Bryant’s torn rotator cuff in January and projected the same amount of recovery time. The 36-year-old is expected to return to the Lakers at some point next season.
A return in 2016 seems likely for Pacquiao but his promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum, said he’s focused on his fighter’s health, not the next bout.
“Right now, all I’m focused on is Manny’s health and how the shoulder reacts to surgery,” Arum said to The Times. “The surgeon is one of the best in the world and it’s a pretty common procedure.”