When Manny Pacquiao sat down with reporter Toni Gonzaga for a YouTube “Toni Talks” interview that aired Sunday, he sure was talking like a fighter who was done with the sport.
“It’s done because I’ve been in boxing for a long time and my family says that it is enough,” Pacquiao said. “I just continued [to fight] because I’m passionate about the sport.”
And when the 42-year-old Pacquiao officially announced his run for the Presidency of the Philippines, also on Sunday, his retirement seemed like a “for sure” thing now.
But is Manny going to officially retire and stay retired? History not only leads us to a “no” answer, it screams “heck, no!”
You don’t even need history to tell you that, though. Manny’s own advisor and President of Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, Sean Gibbons, is telling you that what Manny said about hanging up the gloves is subject to change and not at all official.
“In the coming weeks, the senator will decide how he’s going to finish his professional boxing career,” Gibbons told Mike Coppinger of ESPN. “After the fight and recently, he’s discussed retiring [or] maybe one more [fight]. He’s just talking out loud about different situations.
“Until you see it officially come out on his Twitter or Instagram, he isn’t retired. Once you see it on a platform like that, it’s official. Anything else is just talk about what his thoughts are in the moment. It’s coming from him, but it’s hearsay.”
Notably, Pacquiao retired back in 2016 after decisioning Timothy Bradley in their third contest. That retirement lasted all of seven months before he returned to the ring to face Jessie Vargas.
Of course, everyone HAS to retire at some point. Nobody can fight on forever. And, honestly, this seems to be as good a time as any– after a very disappointing performance in his loss to Yordenis Ugas and before an ultra-serious run for the Presidency of his home country– for him to ease out of the game with dignity.
Everyone who follows the fight game, however, knows that few fighters ease out of the game with dignity– especially when there’s still mega-millions to be had. And in the particular case of Manny Pacquiao, there’s still this “hero of his people” aura about him that creates a forever itch to stand up for his people in the ring– an itch that may not even be satisfied by a gig as prestigious as being the President.
Even if Manny goes on to win the election, there’s still an even money chance that he’ll fight again. And, honestly, how cool would it be to have a sitting President of a nation lacing up the gloves for a world title fight? It may not sit well with his political rivals or Filipino citizen activists, but a President Pacquiao could pull off a successful return to the ring.
If Manny loses the election, though, there’s a very good chance we see him back in the ring, for at least one final send-off, within a year’s time. Maybe it’ll be a rematch with Yordenis Ugas or a try at one of the other world titles currently held by Errol Spence and Terence Crawford. Maybe it’ll be against a lesser opponent in a winnable final fight to say a proper good-bye to his fans. Whatever the case, it’s more likely that Pacquiao comes back than stays retired.
That’s not entirely a good thing.
Every fighter needs to know when it’s time to call it a career and Manny looked absolutely done in the Ugas fight. Given that performance, it’s not even a sure thing that he wouldn’t be upset by a second or third-tier welterweight right now. And things could get ugly against a younger, hungrier, elite-level fighter like Crawford or Spence.
So, yeah, without even being familiar with his politics, it’s safe to say that he should stick to the political arena and leave the boxing arena behind.