Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao announced on Wednesday he would likely retire next year after one last fight so he could focus on a career in politics, hopefully as a senator.
The born-again Christian, winner of an unprecedented eight world titles in as many weight divisions and at times touted as a future president of the Philippines, said he had taken career advice from God.
“I think I’m ready (to retire). I’ve been in boxing for more than 20 years,” Pacquiao, 36, said in an interview on local ABS-CBN television network.
“I prayed to God for guidance and I am happy about it.”
Pacquiao turned professional when he was 16 years old and has won 57 fights, including 38 knockouts while losing six, three of them knockouts.
Two other bouts ended in a draw. He lost a unanimous decision in May to unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather in boxing’s richest bout, which the Filipino fought with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Pacquiao, a congressman since 2010, announced this week his bid for a senate seat in national elections to be held in May next year.
“I will have to give up the other things that require my attention. If you are a senator, your focus should only be your job and your family,” he said in the interview. Pacquiao said before the elections he planned to climb into the ring for what would probably be one last time, most likely in March.
He said he was yet to pick his next opponent, and was not ruling out a rematch with Mayweather, even though the American had already announced his retirement.
Manny Pacquiao: “Yes, I’m going to run for (a) Senate post this coming 2016 election. But as to which party, that’s still to be determined”
— Boxing Insider.com (@BoxingInsider) October 5, 2015
A rags-to-riches Philippine idol, Pacquiao, a former street vendor, has shrewdly parlayed his boxing success into a career in show business, product endorsements and politics.
Now representing his southern province of Sarangani in the lower chamber of congress, the pint-sized Pacquiao is also an improbable professional basketball player and a Christian pastor.
He was mercilessly criticised on social media this week after it was reported he had attended just four legislative sessions out of 70 this year due to sporting and other commitments.
Despite this, the latest pre-election surveys put him in the winning circle of the 12 senatorial slots up for grab at the polls. Pacquiao pledged Wednesday he would be a “serious” senator.
“I will not be absent because the whole country will be my responsibility,” he said.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple said Pacquiao enjoyed a special “rapport” with the masses that would translate into electoral success.
“The perception is that he is approachable, he has an empathy for Filipinos,” Casiple said. But he warned that in the Senate, Pacquiao would be “under a microscope,” with many people looking for signs that he was not working or did not understand the issues.
Casiple also warned that even Pacquiao’s popularity might not be enough to get him the presidency down the track.
“His popularity will not be much of an advantage because he will (then) be up against people who are also well-known,” he said.
Pacquiao heads his own political party but hinted Wednesday he would run for the Senate under the banner of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the current main opposition leader who is running for president in 2016.
Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao said Monday he plans to run for a post in the influential Philippine Senate despite a lacklustre stint as a congressman.
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The star announced he will run as a candidate for the 24-seat upper chamber in May 2016, to mixed reactions from fans. "Yes, I'm going to run for (a) Senate post this coming 2016 election. But as to which party, that's still to be determined," said the fighter.
The boxer popularly known as "Pac-Man", said President Benigno Aquino's ruling Liberal Party had been courting him but added that he is also close to the leaders of rival parties.
Pacquiao, 36, used his athletic renown to be elected as congressman of an impoverished district in the southern Philippines in 2010, despite his punishing training schedule and a foray as playing coach in the country's competitive basketball league.
He has won eight world championships in different weight divisions but lost the richest fight in boxing history in a unanimous decision to his American rival Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas in May.
While still retaining his popularity among sports fans, Pacquiao has been harshly criticised for his performance in the House of Representatives where he has been listed among the legislators with the most absences.
As a congressman, Pacquiao was elected by the voters of his district but in the Philippines, senators are elected nationally, posing a larger challenge.
The reaction in social media to Pacquiao's plans for the Senate was largely negative.
"Pacman, you're my idol. But in the boxing ring. Not in Congress. Sorry," one fan posted on Twitter. "Pacquiao, you can't even go to sessions in Congress. Now you want to go to Senate? What are you going to do there?," said another.
MMA fight night ONE Championship: 'Tigers of Asia’ will be aired exclusively live on Physique TV in the UAE this week.
The regions's first and only 24-hour television channel dedicated to fitness, lifestyle, combat and extreme sports will broadcast eight star name MMA fighters on October 9 at 4pm KSA.
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The six-card fight will be available with Arabic commentary for viewers across the Middle East and North Africa.
“Like the recently held ONE Championship bout, our viewers can expect another intense MMA event with the ‘Tigers of Asia’," Hamid Dizji, chief executive of Physique TV, said.
"We are proud to broadcast another action-packed ONE Championship event presented with an Arabic commentary from our expert MMA analysts Rio Altaie and Ali Mokdad.”
Chief executive of ONE Championship, Victor Cui, added, “We’ve prepared a memorable night of adrenaline-pumping thrills for fans here and all across the world headlined by an explosive world championship title fight!
"Witness all the action live as the best local and international MMA fighters compete inside the ONE Cage. Fans will not want to miss what goes down on 9 October!”
Fight Card – find out who is fighting on the night:
Middleweight World Championship: Igor Svirid vs Vitaly Bigdash
ONE Middleweight World Champion Igor “Lionheart” Svirid will headline the fight card in Kuala Lumpur as he defends his title against Vitaly Bigdash. 'Tigers of Asia' will also feature three Malaysia super fights as Ann Osman takes on Irina Mazepa, Ev Ting battles Honorio Banario and Peter Davis duels Adrian Pang.
Lightweight: Peter Davis vs. Adrian Pang
Peter Davis is currently on an incredible four-fight win streak which includes one submission and three straight TKO wins. His next test is certainly one that will push him to the limit as he takes on the veteran from Queensland, Australia, Adrian “The Hunter” Pang.
Featherweight: Ev Ting vs. Honorio Banario
Ev “E.T.” Ting’s most recent fight was against tough Russian foe Marat Gafurov, in one of the most valuable learning experiences for the 26-year old Auckland MMA fighter.
Ting is currently 3-1 inside the ONE Cage and will now look to get back in the winner’s circle in front of his hometown crowd with a victory over Filipino stalwart, Honorio Banario.
Flyweight: Ann Osman vs. Irina Mazepa
Malaysia’s fighting belle, Ann “Athena” Osman, is back and ready to rock Kuala Lumpur once again in her highly-anticipated return to the ONE Cage. She will get the chance to show off her new moves against Russian kickboxer, Irina Mazepa.
Featherweight: Eric Kelly vs. Hiroshige Tanaka
Top featherweight Eric “The Natural” Kelly of the Philippines will make his much awaited return to the ONE Cage after a year off from competition. Standing in Kelly’s way on his road back to the top is Hiroshige Tanaka.
Flyweight: Eugene Toquero vs. Riku Shibuya
Japanese MMA wildcard Riku Shibuya won the hearts of fans in his battle with ONE Flyweight World Champion, Adriano Moraes, just a few months ago.
Shibuya’s unorthodox style and powerful combinations were on full display, and now, fans in Kuala Lumpur will get to see Shibuya once again as he takes on the equally unpredictable Eugene Toquero of the Philippines.