Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has announced his retirement from boxing on Wednesday to focus on his bid to become Philippine president in the 2022 elections.
In a 14-minute video posted on his Facebook page, Pacquiao said, “I just heard the final bell. Boxing is over.”
A visibly emotional Pacquiao said, “I never thought this day would come as I hang up my boxing gloves. This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but I am at peace with it.”
Considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time, Pacquiao is the only man to hold world titles in eight different divisions. He was also elected as a senator in 2016 and has since been dividing his time between politics and fighting.
Earlier in August in his last match as a boxer, the 42-year-old lost a WBA welterweight world title match against Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas.
Pacquiao’s political journey
Pacquiao was among the staunchest allies of the outgoing Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte as the president unleashed a bloody war on drugs and his bid to reintroduce the death penalty.
However, the political relations between the two men have since soured after Pacquiao criticised Duterte’s friendly relationship with China and corruption in the government. In July, he was removed as president of the country’s ruling PDP-Laban party. His removal led to a split in the party and competing factions have nominated different candidates.
Pacquiao began his political career with a failed congressional run in 2007. Later in 2010, he won a seat in the lower house of Congress, representing the southern Sarangani province. He was then elected for a six-year term in the Senate in 2016 and is up for re-election in 2022.
As for his political views, the legendary boxer-turned-legislator is a fundamentalist Christian who has advocated for the death penalty to curb the illegal drug trade. He has called for execution by firing squad for people found guilty of being involved in drug trafficking.
Country’s political analysts say that Pacquiao deems the 2022 elections as his best shot at the presidency before his popularity as an international boxer begins to dwindle.
In the latest polls conducted between September 6 to 11, Pacquiao is the fourth preferred candidate for president, with Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio leading the race. The incumbent’s daughter; however, has not yet declared her candidacy.