Manny Pacquiao hangs up his gloves for good

By: Marc Anthony Reyes - Reporter / @marcreyesINQ - | September 30,2021 - 10:55 AM

This file photo, taken on Nov. 14, 2009, shows Manny Pacquiao celebrating after defeating Miguel Angel Cotto in Las Vegas, Nevada. —AFP

MANILA, Philippines — In a move that finally distances his boxing from his politics, Manny Pacquiao formally announced his retirement from the sport that lifted him from abject poverty to the pinnacle of fame and fortune.

The announcement, made via a 14-minute video posted on his Facebook page, was anticlimactic—a stark contrast to a career filled with dazzling highlights, scintillating triumphs and some of the most memorable knockouts in boxing history.

“I just heard the final bell, tapos na ang boxing (the boxing is over). Thank you,” said Pacquiao, doubling down on remarks he made during an interview with a popular celebrity, which were dismissed by several people, including some from his camp.

“It’s difficult for me to accept that my time as a boxer is over,” Pacquiao, 42, said. “Today, I am announcing my retirement. I never thought that this day would come.

“As I hang up my boxing gloves, I would like to thank the whole world, especially the Filipino people, for supporting Manny Pacquiao,” he added, fighting back tears.

The announcement still made headlines in both national and international news outlets despite the fact that he had repeatedly remarked about stepping away from boxing during a visit to Cebu City.

“His retirement isn’t news anymore. It came out already in Cebu where we came from today,” said a source from his camp.

The source said Pacquiao was currently in talks with Vice President Leni Robredo to firm up his political plans for 2022, when he is expected to run for the presidency after accepting the nomination of one faction of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan to be its standard-bearer.

Three options

“Moment of truth for both of them,” the source said, adding that everything was on the table in the ring icon’s talks with the Robredo camp.

Pacquiao, the source added, had said he currently has three options: Run for president, stay on as senator or retire from politics altogether. His boxing retirement, however, is seen largely as a prelude to his presidential run.

And in stepping away from the fight scene, Pacquiao is keeping his legacy in the sport beyond the reach of his political career. Even Pacquiao’s boxing career ended in a whimper; he was outclassed by unheralded Cuban Yordenis Ugas during their fight last month in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a bout where he finally showed his age. But that loss did little to stain his sporting legacy.

Throughout his career—anchored on a style that defied the sport’s fundamentals—he captured 12 world titles in eight weight divisions, a feat that only he has achieved so far. But most important, he achieved mainstream popularity that resonated among Hollywood actors, National Basketball Association superstars and global leaders—thanks to his explosive, rapid-fire brand of boxing, low-key demeanor and infectious personality.

The power-punching southpaw had racked up 62 wins, eight losses and two draws in a career spanning 26 years, beating such stars as Oscar de la Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Antonio Margarito, Erik Morales and Shane Mosley.

Defeats to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez, who knocked Pacquiao out cold in the fourth and final installment of their memorable rivalry, also failed to diminish his star. In fact, it was his politics that did the most damage on his boxing ledger, drawing criticisms for his stance on issues like gender equality and the death penalty.

Sharp rebuke

Initially beyond reproach after putting the country in primetime screens globally, Pacquiao drew sharp rebuke after dismissing homosexuals and making jokes about crude methods of reimposing capital punishment.

“He is adored as a boxer, but even those who adore him as a boxer have second thoughts about his ability to govern,” said Temario Rivera, a retired academic, citing his patchy Senate attendance.

Pacquiao, during his announcement, paid tribute to countless people who helped him along the way, starting from his uncle Sandro Mejia, who introduced him to boxing when he was 16 in General Santos City.

He also honored trainer Buboy Fernandez, saying “nobody is as close to me as he is.”

But that closeness wasn’t able to dissuade Pacquiao from hanging his gloves. Fernandez had earlier hoped Pacquiao would end his career on a victorious note, rather than having people remembering his last fight as a loss.

“Look, people call him a legend,” Fernandez had earlier said. “Do you think it would be all right with me to see him being beaten by an almost unknown boxer? That his legendary career would end just like that?”

This isn’t the first time Pacquiao decided to quit, though. He said he was through in 2012 after that knockout loss to Marquez. Four years later, while on a Senate campaign, he also said he had fought his last fight after beating Timothy Bradley.

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