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Manny Pacquiao: from king of the ring to the presidency?

After retiring from boxing the Filipino legend is facing his biggest battle yet

Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, one of the greatest boxers of all time, has announced his retirement from the sport three months shy of his 43rd birthday, ESPN reported. The only eight-division world champion in boxing history, Pacquiao will be best remembered for the mega-fight in 2015 against Floyd Mayweather that “shattered revenue records” and for the four “thrilling” contests against his great rival, Juan Manuel Marquez.

After losing by unanimous decision against Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas in Las Vegas in August, Pacquiao said earlier this month that his boxing career was “already over” and he would continue supporting other Filipino boxers through his organisation, MP Promotions. 

In a social media post today, Pacquiao confirmed he would be stepping away from the ring for good. “I just heard the final bell. Boxing is over,” he said. “I never thought this day would come as I hang up my boxing gloves.”

Known for his “fast footwork and blistering speed of punches”, Pacquiao was widely regarded as “one of the top offensive fighters in the sport’s history”, said The Guardian. The 42-year-old finishes his 26-year, 72-fight career with 62 wins, eight losses and two draws. He won 12 world titles across eight weight divisions and is the only boxer to hold world championships across four decades. 

Rags-to-riches life story

Growing up in the south of the Philippines, as a teenager Pacquiao moved to the capital city Manila and started a boxing career that would make him one of the world’s most highly paid athletes, the BBC reported. Fighting his way out of abject poverty, his “rags-to-riches life story and legendary career” has brought honour to the south-east Asian nation, The Guardian added. 

Veteran promoter Bob Arum, the founder and CEO of Top Rank, told The National in 2016 that only Muhammad Ali had had more of an impact than Pacquiao. “He’s had a tremendous impact in Asia and in the Philippines where he’s a political figure, he’s resonated with the American public and the American media,” Arum said. 

His biggest battle yet

Known in his native Philippines by his monikers “Pacman”, “People’s Champ” and “National Fist”, Pacquiao has not just made an impact in the world of boxing, but also in politics and society. He is a senator in the Philippines and has already announced his intention to run for president in the 2022 elections in May. 

Pacquiao has accused President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration of making corruption worse in the Philippines, The Guardian reported. And he promised to fight poverty and warned corrupt politicians they will soon end in jail. Accepting the presidential nomination of his faction within the ruling PDP-Laban party, he said: “I am a fighter and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring.” 

In the opinion polls, Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, remains the top pick for president, Inquirer reported. According to a survey of Filipino adults from 6-11 September, 20% expressed their support to Duterte-Carpio while Pacquiao was on 12%, behind Ferdinand Marcos (15%) and Francisco Domagoso (13%). 

His is a story “straight out of a movie”, said Camille Elemia on Rappler. “Dirt-poor to billionaire, unorthodox boxer to world champion, and absentee congressman to presidential aspirant”. Having lost the final fight of his boxing career, Pacquiao is now facing his biggest battle yet: his presidential campaign.

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