Rags to riches: Boxing great Pacquiao announces retirement

Sports

In this photo provided by the Manny Pacquiao MediaComms, Senator Manny Pacquiao raises his hands during a national convention of his PDP-Laban party in Quezon city, Philippines on Sunday Sept. 19, 2021. Philippine boxing icon and senator Manny Pacquiao says he will run for president in the 2022 elections. (Manny Pacquiao MediaComms via AP)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao is officially hanging up his gloves.

The eight-division world champion and Philippine senator on Wednesday announced his retirement from the ring.

“I would like to thank the whole world, especially the Filipino people, for supporting Manny Pacquiao. Goodbye boxing,” the 42-year-old said in a video posted on his Facebook page. “It is difficult for me to accept that my time as a boxer is over. Today I am announcing my retirement.”

Pacquiao finished 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 and is the only fighter in history to win titles in eight different weight classes.

FILE – In this Aug. 20, 2021, file photo, Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, poses for photographers during a weigh-in in Las Vegas. Philippine boxing icon and senator Pacquiao says he will run for president in the 2022 elections. He accepted the nomination of his PDP-Laban party at its national convention on Sunday, Sept. 19, pledging to honestly serve the Filipino people who he said have been waiting for change in government. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

His retirement from boxing followed a disheartening defeat to Yordenis Ugas in Paradise, Nevada, on Aug. 21. The younger Cuban boxer 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.”

Pacquaio had hinted at retirement recently. It had also 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 he will run for Philippines president in elections next May.

He has accused the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, his former ally, of making corruption worse in the Philippines. He promised to fight poverty and warned corrupt politicians they will soon end up in jail.

Pacquiao’s rags-to-riches life story and legendary career brought honor to his Southeast Asian nation, where he is known by the 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.

Eddie Banaag, a 79-year-old retiree, said Pacquiao was his idol as a boxer and he watched almost all of his fights. But he believes the boxing icon should have retired earlier.

“He should have done that right after his victory over (Keith) Thurman,” Banaag said of Pacquiao’s win over Thurman on July 20, 2019, in Las Vegas, Pacquiao’s second-to-last fight. “It would have been better if he ended his boxing career with a win rather than a loss.”

Still, Pacquiao believes he will always be remembered as a winner. Hundreds of millions of dollars in career earnings and his record in the ring leave no doubt.

“I will never forget what I have done and accomplished in my life,” Pacquiao said Wednesday. “I just heard the final bell. The boxing is over.”

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