Manny Pacquiao, widely regarded as the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer, may quit the fight game because his mother has begged him to retire.
Pacquiao was welcomed home by hundreds of fans, including politicians, at Manila’s airport early yesterday before he went to mass at a Roman Catholic church in the capital’s old commercial district of Quiapo.
The boxer, who retained his WBO welterweight title against Ghana’s Joshua Clottey on March 13 in Texas, is standing for election in national polls on May 10.
“I might retire,” Pacquiao told reporters. “My mother has been begging me to stop fighting, so we’ll talk about this.”
Fight fans are hoping Pacquiao will stick around long enough to fight American Floyd Mayweather. Their hotly anticipated welterweight bout was called off in January, partly due to a dispute over drug testing procedures.
“After my fight with [Miguel] Cotto, I ask her to allow me to fight one last time and she agreed,” Pacquiao said. “Now, she’s asking me again to retire, what will I tell her now?”
“She kneels down and cries every time [she asks me to quit]. That’s a heavy burden when it’s my mother doing that,” he said.
His mother, Dionisia said the entire Pacquiao family would hold a meeting with the champ to finally convince him to retire.
“God has given him enough. All of us will convince him to stop fighting,” said the deeply religious Pacquiao matriarch.
On Friday, Pacquiao climbs into the political ring, seeking a seat in the lower house of Congress in Saranganin Province as the campaign period for local positions starts across the country. In 2007, he ran and lost in his first attempt to become a lawmaker.
Pacquiao, nicknamed Pac-Man, said he would talk to his family about the future of his boxing career before making a decision, and said his political ambitions were not a contributing factor.
“I have been in boxing for a long time and I have given so many honours to my country. Even without the elections and the politics, my retirement will largely depend on my family’s decision,” he said.
Pacquiao was honored by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and then toured Manila’s narrow streets as thousands cheered and waved at his motorcade, shouting his name.
Opposition senator Manuel Villar, a millionaire property developer who is one of the leading candidates for the presidency in the May 10 national election, was among those who met Pacquiao at the airport.
“What we need now is a man who rose from poverty, who understands the call of the poor like myself,” Pacquiao said in an obvious reference to Villar, the son of a fishmonger who has risen from humble beginnings to become one of the country’s most powerful men and has made poverty alleviation his central platform.
Pacquiao, who similarly lifted himself out of poverty to become one of the world’s richest sportsmen, has said helping the poor is his main motivation in running for Congress. However, although highly respected for his prowess in the ring, many doubt whether he can be a political success.
“Pacquiao is an authentic Filipino hero and his legions of fans wouldn’t want his image tarnished by politics,” said Ben Lim, a political analyst with the Ateneo de Manila University.
“Politicians aren’t exactly looked upon with respect,” he said.
He added that Pacquiao’s intentions appeared to be genuine, and even if he fails in his bid for Congress, he could still become a well-respected community leader.
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