Manny Pacquiao could learn a thing or two about leaving the sport of boxing from archrival Floyd Mayweather. Actually, the lessons to be learned from Mayweather refer to how NOT to leave the sport.
Mayweather, the five-division world champ who beat Pacquiao in a long-awaited mega-fight back in 2015, has absolutely not left the sport in anything resembling a dignified manner. If anything, it could be said that “Money” never really left and that he’s been kicking and screaming, flailing for attention, long after deciding that he’d never be in the thick of hardcore, elite-level competition again.
There was, of course, the big bucks fluff of Mayweather’s bout with UFC star Conor McGregor in 2017. The following year, he grasped at a reported $9 million payday to batter Japanese featherweight kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in a one-sided exhibition romp. Then, for the next couple of years, he endlessly teased at comebacks and returns to the ring. Most recently, he’s confirmed plans to face YouTube personality and novice 0-1 boxer, Logan Paul, in a June 6 exhibition bout.
This may be “hustling” and keeping the revenue flowing, but it’s hardly dignified. Mayweather’s constant grasping at relevance gives the impression that the man is desperate for either money or attention (and, maybe, both).
And that takes us to Manny Pacquiao.
The eight-division former world champ and Senator in the Philippines appears to be on the verge of finally announcing his comeback opponent and, if you take to heart his comments on a recent media conference call, he’ll also be confirming his plans for retirement.
“The negotiations are ongoing,” Pacquiao told media. “I will not go into details so that there will not be any problems.”
When asked about retirement, he replied: “We won’t answer that for now, because that is part of the negotiations. That will be included in the announcement.”
Well, that certainly leaves much to the imagination when it comes to the fighter who last entered the ring in a winning effort against Keith Thurman back in the summer of 2019.
Mikey Garcia has reemerged as the favorite to get the nod as Manny’s comeback opponent after rumored negotiations for a Terence Crawford bout died off and buzz about a battle with Errol Spence apparently fizzled out.
Could the return/retirement announcement have something to do with a two-fight exit plan for the Filipino icon? Maybe he’ll face Garcia in the rumored host of Abu Dhabi and then have one last fight in America (although, wouldn’t it be fun and meaningful for him to have his last fight back home in the Philippines)?
Whatever he decides, here’s hoping that he doesn’t go the Mayweather route when it comes to leaving his fighting career behind. Here’s hoping he finishes his career with dignity, without the “look at me, look at me” histrionics currently clouding Mayweather’s legacy.
Chances are pretty good, though, that Pacquiao will dive deep into his political career after finishing up with boxing and make a run at presidency of the Philippines in 2022.
“I didn’t become a boxer to fight in four-rounders or 10-rounders; I boxed to become a world champion,” Pacquiao told media. “Any politician, even a barangay chairman, dreams of becoming president.”
One could argue whether a career in politics is all that more dignified than a run of shameless exhibition hustles. But that’s a topic for another day.