AS world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao prepares for what he has said will the final bout of his boxing career, he looks ahead to a political career where he can serve his countrymen.
On April 9, the Filipino boxer will face WBO/WBC Jr. Welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, Jr. in the ring for a third time.
“I’m so happy hanging my gloves after this fight because of what I have done. I’m sure I will feel sad after that but, you know, that’s life,” Pacquiao said during a press conference for the fight Tuesday, Jan. 19, at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
The formal announcement of his decision comes just a few months before the Philippine general election in May. Pacquiao is currently the lone congressman of Sarangani province but is now seeking a seat in the Senate.
“I remember when I started boxing, I started because I wanted to help my family, my mother. And now, I end my boxing career because I want to help my countrymen, the Pilipino people,” he said.
Pacquiao, who holds a record of 57-6-2, 38 KOs, was the first boxer in history to win 10 world titles in eight different weight divisions. In 2000, the Boxing Writers Association of America named him “Fighter of the Decade.”
People’s Champ seeking “clear victory” against Bradley
For his last showdown in the ring, Pacquiao said he considered opponents including WBA super lightweight champion Adrien Broner, British boxer and two-time former world champion Amir Khan, Mexican multiple-time world champion Juan Marquez, and even a rematch against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., to who he lost in the most lucrative match in boxing history.
Although he has already fought Bradley twice, the Filipino boxer said that this time around he is seeking a clear victory. In his second match against the American fighter, Bradley won in a controversial split decision.
“I’m not saying I’m going to knock him out, but I will do my best to prove that Manny Pacquiao is still in the prime, he’s still in the top before I hang up my gloves,” he said.
Different Bradley expected on April 9
A different Bradley is expected to enter the ring on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Last year after a victory against American boxer Jessie Vargas, he fired long-time trainer Joel Diaz and hired trainer and ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas.
TopRank promoter Bob Arum has previously said the American boxer is “a new Bradley” citing his November 2015 fight against former WBA lightweight world champion Brandon Rios, at which time he was training under Atlas.
Bradley, who currently holds a record of 33-1-1, 13 KOs, agreed that his third match against The People’s Champ would stand apart from their first two.
“I think this fight will definitely be different than the first two altercations that we had. And that’s all I can tell you. I think it’s going to be a great fight … it’s Manny Pacquiao’s farewell fight. I know he wants to win the fight really badly and so do I…”
During Tuesday’s press conference, Atlas spoke about the upcoming fight using the Super Bowl as an analogy, saying the boxers were Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
“They’ve been to a lot of super bowls and this is what they’re in the business for: getting to the top to show that they are the best. We have an opportunity to fight … Manny Pacquiao, who has been one of the best most dynamic fighters of the last decade. And to me … has been one of the best fighters of the last decade,” Atlas said.
“Donald Trump undercard”
Arum also said the undercard of Pacquiao vs. Bradley will be called “the Donald Trump undercard,” featuring all Hispanic fighters as a response to the Republican presidential contender who has been vocal about deporting undocumented immigrants.
“I want them to know there are a lot of people that have their back and are not going to allow them to be deported,” he said, dedicating the undercard to the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
Pacquiao is not planning to run for president, message to Filipino fans
After the fight in April, Pacquiao will have one month to campaign before the election on May 9. If he wins, he said he would like to focus on fighting corruption, providing free education from elementary to college, and providing incentives and subsidies for farmers and fishermen.
While there have been talks of Pacquiao aiming to run for president at some point, he said that goal is not in his current plans.
“I don’t have that in my mind right now but if that’s my destiny then no one will refuse that,” he told reporters.
Arum, who has served as Pacquiao’s promoter for years, said Tuesday he couldn’t believe it would be the boxer’s last time in the ring.
“It could be, it may very well be, but when I stand up here to introduce him in this ballroom at The Beverly Hills Hotel where I’ve done it so many times, and so many memories, I can’t come to grips with the fact that it would be the last time. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, that’s up to Manny,” Arum said.
For Filipino fans, Pacquiao had the following message:
“Maraming salamat sa ating mga kababayan sa support and prayers sa aking career, and sana hindi sila mg sawa na mg suporta sa akin, especially this coming last fight … and also my other career … to help the people (Many thanks to my kababayans for the support and prayers for my career, and I hope they don’t tire of supporting me, especially this coming last fight … and also my other career … to help the people),” he said.
Press tour continues in New York, tickets on sale Friday
Pacquiao will return to the Philippines as soon as he returns from the press tour, said Mike Koncz, his adviser, and plans on completing the first half of his training in General Santos City, according to Manila Bulletin.
Team Pacquiao and Team Bradley are set to fly to New York City on Wednesday, Jan. 20, for a second press conference on Thursday, Jan. 21, at Madison Square Garden.
Tickets for Pacquiao vs. Bradley go on sale Friday, Jan. 22, at 1 pm ET/10am PT, and will range from $154 to $1,204, excluding service fees.