Boxing star Manny Pacquiao, who is planning to run for president of the Philippines in the 2022 elections, said on Wednesday he was retiring from boxing to focus on the biggest fight of his political career. Pacquiao, a Philippines senator who has been dividing his time between politics and fighting, made the announcement in a 14-minute video posted on his official Facebook page.
“I just heard the final bell. Boxing is over,” said an emotional Pacquiao. “I never thought this day would come as a 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. Veteran promoter Bob Arum in 2010 said he was unmatched, and rated him better than Muhammad Ali. “His left and right hand hit with equal power and that is what destroys his opponents,” Arum said.
Now 42, he finishes his 26-year, 72-fight career with 62 wins, eight losses and two draws. Of those 62 wins, 39 were by knockout and 23 by decision. He won 12 world titles.
His retirement from boxing followed a disheartening defeat to Yordenis Ugas in Paradise, Nevada on 21 August. The younger Cuban boxer, who defected to the United States in 2010, beat Pacquiao by unanimous decision, retaining his WBA welterweight title. It was Pacquiao’s first fight in more than two years.
“Thank you for changing my life, when my family was desperate, you gave us hope, you gave me the chance to fight my way out of poverty,” Pacquiao said in the video. “Because of you, I was able to inspire people all over the world. Because of you I have been given the courage to change more lives. I will never forget what I have done and accomplished in my life that I can’t imagine.”
Pacquaio had hinted at retirement recently. It also had been expected because he is setting his sights on a bigger political battlefield. Earlier this month, he accepted his political party’s nomination and declared that that he will run for Philippines president in the May 2022 elections.
He has accused the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, his formal ally, of making corruption worse in the Philippines. He promised to fight poverty and warned corrupt politicians they will soon end in jail.
Pacquiao’s rags-to-riches life story and legendary career – he is the only fighter in history to win titles in eight different weight classes – has brought honor to his Southeast Asian nation, where he is known by his monikers Pacman, People’s Champ and National Fist.
He left his impoverished home in the southern Philippines as a teenager and stowed away on a ship bound for Manila. He made his professional boxing debut as a junior flyweight in 1995, at the age of 16, fighting his way out of abject poverty to become one of the world’s highest paid athletes.