President Manny Pacquiao? – Boxing superstar officially launches 2022 bid

Manny Pacquiao

@mannypacquiao

President Pacquiao? – Manny Pacquiao on Sunday made the announcement most around him expected he would eventually make – that he will run for president of the Philippines, where he currently serves as a senator.

“Today, I boldly accept the challenge of running for PRESIDENT of the Republic of the Philippines, with a message to those who are taking advantage of the Filipino people: YOUR TIME IS UP! I AM A FIGHTER,” Pacquiao posted to his social media.

Earlier in the day, Pacquiao accepted the nomination of his PFP-Laban party during its national convention, where he said he would run on the same agenda of anti-poverty and anti-corruption he has pursued as a senator.

“We need progress, and we need to win against poverty. We need the government to serve our people with integrity, compassion, and transparency,” Pacquiao said. “The time is now. I am ready to rise to the challenge of leadership.”

Pacquiao made the announcement almost one month to the day from when he lost a unanimous decision to WBA welterweight titleholder Yordenis Ugas on Aug. 21 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in his first fight in two years.

Throughout the build-up to the fight, which was originally supposed to be against unified welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr. before he suffered an eye injury and was replaced by Ugas on 11 days’ notice, Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) was peppered with questions about whether he would fight on because not only is he 42 but also has been boxing for 26 years and has discussed the prospect of seeking the presidency.

The election is scheduled for May 9, and if Pacquiao, who trails in polling in the Philippines, wins, he would be committed to a six-year term in office, which would almost surely end his legendary boxing career in which he set numerous records, including winning titles in eight weight classes and holding world titles in four decades, and became an all-time great.

Going into the fight with Ugas, Pacquiao put off questions about whether he would run for president, saying only that he was considering it, had not made a decision yet, and would make an announcement of his plans in September.

“All my life, I never fought back,” Pacquiao said in making his announcement. “The Manny Pacquiao you know as the national fist is no different than the Manny Pacquiao with you against poverty and corruption. More than oneself, the nation should come first. I can feel what you guys are feeling. I know how hard it is what you’re going through, and I know you’re tired. My fellow countrymen, we need progress. We need to win against poverty.

“We need government to serve our people with integrity, compassion, and transparency. The time is now. We are ready to rise to the challenge of leadership. It’s time for the oppressed to win. It’s time for our nation to rise from poverty, and it’s time for a clean government, where every cent will go for every Filipino.

“I believe even the impossible can happen if it is ordered by the Lord. Nothing is impossible if it is destined by our Lord. That’s why we will fight! Please join me! Thank you very much, and long live the Philippines!”

Pacquiao faces a battle within his own fractured party. He is head of the PDP-Laban faction, but another faction of the party earlier in the month nominated current Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to be its vice presidential candidate with former Duterte aide Sen. Bong Go as its presidential nominee. Duterte is not allowed under the Philippines constitution to seek a second six-year presidential term but has accepted the nomination, while Go has declined to run for president.

In the Philippines, the president and vice president are not elected as a tandem, so it is possible that the candidate who wins the presidency would wind up serving with a vice president from another party.

Pacquiao was once aligned with Duterte, but they have had a falling out after Pacquiao took issue with his stance toward China and accused Duterte’s administration of widespread corruption, notably as it related to the disappearance of some $200 million in public funds meant to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines. Duterte had Pacquiao booted out of the party in July, prompting the faction loyal to Pacquiao to form.

Pacquiao was elected to the Filipino House of Representatives in 2010 and served two terms before winning a senate election in 2016. All along, there was speculation he would eventually run for president.

Manny Pacquiao Yordenis Ugas
Sean Michael Ham

BOXING RETIREMENT?

After losing to Ugas, Pacquiao was non-committal about his boxing future or political aspirations, but he made impassioned remarks at the post-fight news conference that made it sound as though he had made up his mind to retire from boxing and continue his work in public service, where he has long talked about his desire to help the poor.

“As long as I live in this world, I want to leave a legacy, not only being a good fighter, but I want to leave a legacy as an inspiration to everybody inside and outside the ring,” Pacquiao said. “I am a public servant. I want to help people. Even my own money I give back to the people. That’s my mission.

“Material things in this world, you can’t bring that to the grave. When our lives are finished in this world, we can take nothing. We came into this world naked, and we will depart naked, just remember that. This sport, it is my passion. That’s why I’m still here and keep on fighting at the age of 42. I enjoyed it, but sometimes you have to think about the response of your body.”

“I might have finished my career in boxing, but this is my statement to all boxing fans: People all over the world, the most important thing is what we have done for others, how we can help them, and how we can help each other, especially in this pandemic.

“People are hungry, starving, experiencing difficult times. We should help them and show our love for them. We must love each other and help each other, not only by words but by actions.”

Dan Rafael is the lead boxing contributor for World Boxing News. Follow Dan on Twitter @DanRafael1. Dan Rafael is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.