by Rob Woollard
LOS Angeles, United States (AFP) — Manny Pacquiao said Wednesday he intends to stick to his plan to retire after a farewell fight against Timothy Bradley next week — but admits he could be tempted into a rethink once he has hung up his gloves.
The 37-year-old is preparing to bring the curtain down on one of the greatest careers boxing has ever seen when he fights Bradley for the third time at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on April 9.
The devoutly religious Pacquiao is hoping to win election to the Philippines Senate in May elections, hoping to use his profile to serve the people in what he describes as a crusade to root out wickedness.
But speaking to reporters at the famed Wild Card gym in the heart of Hollywood on Wednesday, Pacquiao refused to definitively rule out a possible return to the ring at some point in the future.
Asked by AFP to confirm if Bradley would be his last fight, Pacquiao replied: “After this I’ve decided to go back to the Philippines and serve the people. That’s it.”
Yet when pressed further on whether he could change his mind, Pacquiao refused to rule out a return.
“I’m not saying. It’s hard to say. At the moment I’m here training for the next fight. I cannot say yes or no. My decision is to go back to the Philippines and help the people.
“I don’t want to say something that you know we don’t know yet. I don’t know what the feeling is going to be like when I’m retired.”
– ‘A lot left in him’ –
Some of those closest to Pacquiao — veteran promoter Bob Arum and his long-time trainer Freddie Roach — hope he prolongs his career.
“I’m hoping it’s not his last fight because I still think he has a lot left in him,” Roach said. “There’s some interesting fights out there.”
Roach said he had not given up hope of securing a rematch of Pacquiao’s mega-fight with the now retired Floyd Mayweather.
Pacquiao was comfortably beaten on points by Mayweather, later complaining that an injured shoulder had hampered his performance.
“Could we get a rematch with Mayweather? I would like to because I was disappointed with the first performance,” Roach said.
“Maybe his shoulder had a lot to do with it. But I know he can do much better and I think he can beat Mayweather.”
Roach however said he had not sought to change Pacquiao’s planned retirement date — and acknowledged that extending his fighter’s career would be made more complicated if he won election to the Senate.
“I haven’t tried changing his mind,” Roach said. “I’m not putting pressure on him. But I know there are a couple of big fights out there for him.
“If he becomes Senator that might have a lot to do with it because it involves a lot of work and he won’t have the time.
“I’m kind of hoping a little bit that he doesn’t become Senator,” Roach quipped.
Arum, the 84-year-old matchmaker, offered a novel suggestion to enable Pacquiao to simultaneously pursue pugilism and politics.
“Manny could train downstairs at the Wild Card and the Philippines Senate could meet upstairs,” Arum joked.
Arum said he is sceptical Pacquiao will stay retired after the Bradley bout.
“I saw him in New York recently and he told me flat out this was his last fight,” Arum said.
“But since then, reading his body language, I don’t think he’s going to hold to that. If he wins this fight, he’s going to find a way to continue.
“If you’ve been doing something and doing something well since you were seven or eight years old it’s a tough thing to give up.”
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