Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, newly elected to the Philippines Senate, has reportedly announced that he is declining to represent his country at the 2016 Rio Olympics in favor of concentrating on his legislative responsibilities.
Pacquiao apparently considers himself a full-time politician. “It signals the end of his legendary boxing career, which began as a child when he left home to fight to earn money for his destitute family,” Yahoo Sports observed.
Olympic officials are considering a rules change that would allow professional boxers to compete for the gold in the international competition.
Manny Pacquiao, who turned pro at the age of 16, is the first and only eight-division world champion in professional boxing history.
Pacquiao’s election was officially confirmed about 10 days after the balloting. “The Filipino slugger garnered more than 16 million votes, landing seventh among 12 new members of the Senate, a traditional springboard to the presidency. Earlier this year, Pacquiao said he planned to retire from boxing to become a full-time politician,” AP explained.
— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiaoTR) May 19, 2016
Presidential candidates must be at least 40 years old under the constitution of the Philippines. Pacquiao, now 37, could run for that office in 2022, when the next presidential election is scheduled.
Pacquiao was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives in May 2007 and, after switching districts, was reelected in 2010 and 2013.
In deciding to skip the Rio Olympics, Pacquiao declared that “I have decided to prioritize my legislative duty as I owe it to the people who voted for me,” The National reported. Previously, he had suggested that he would be asking the Filipino people for permission to compete in the Olympic Games.
“Pacquiao had been asked by [Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines] to inform them of his decision by Friday, May 27, which was the deadline to submit names for the Final Olympic Qualifiers, which begin June 11 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Pacquiao will not be eligible for the 2020 Olympics as he’d be past the 40-year age limit by the time the Tokyo Games take place,” RingTV detailed.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 26, 2016
Manny Pacquiao officially takes office as a senator on June 30 and as one of his first priorities plans to introduce legislation that would provide free education to children from poor families. He also supports President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to reinstate the death penalty.
“He has represented southern Sarangani province in the House of Representatives since May 2010, though he has been criticized for seldom showing up for legislative duties due to his preoccupation with boxing and is still regarded a political lightweight,” AP added.
On April 9, the fighting congressman defeated Timothy Bradley by unanimous decision in a bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. At that time, he announced his retirement from boxing, which culminated in a 58-6-2 record, with 38 knockout wins. In his post-fight news conference, he explained that “I’ve committed to my family that after this fight I will spend more time with them and focus to serve the people of the Philippines. That is my priority.”
It remains to be seen if a rematch with Floyd Mayweather will ever take place. The two pugilists met on May 2, 2015, also at the MGN Grand, following years of complex negotiations between their respective camps. “Justin Fortune, Pacquiao’s conditioning coach, said [on May 24] there could be a rematch of the lackluster first fight. In that bout, Mayweather out-boxed Pacquiao, who complained afterward that in the fourth round, he aggravated a right shoulder injury suffered in training camp that required post-fight surgery,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
— EJ Mantillo™ (@EJMantillo) May 28, 2016
Parenthetically, Showtime earlier this week filed a lawsuit against Top Rank Boxing, Manny Pacquiao’s promoter, as a result of the Pacquiao-Mayweather welterweight megafight. “Showtime is seeking $682,754.07 in legal fees for having to pay lawyers to defend the network against numerous civil lawsuits filed by fans upset that they shelled out a record $100 apiece for the pay-per-view telecast of a bad fight in which Pacquiao knew he was injured ahead of time,” ESPN reported.
Earlier this year, Manny Pacquiao got into hot water for some anti-gay comments for which he subsequently apologized.
Do you think that Manny Pacquiao is a future president of the Philippines?
[Photo by Bullit Marquez/AP]