Pacquiao considering a run for presidency

Updated: 2013-07-29 07:21

By Agence France-Presse in Macao (China Daily)

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Pacquiao considering a run for presidency

Manny Pacquiao listens to a question during an interview on Saturday in Macao, where he is scheduled to fight on Nov 24. Dale De La Rey / Agence France-Presse

Philippines boxing great Manny Pacquiao is harboring thoughts of running for president in his beloved homeland when he finally hangs up his gloves.

Giving his strongest hint yet that he will push to the top of the political tree when he finally retires from the ring, "PacMan" - a hero and congressman in his home country - admitted he has considered the presidency of the 95 million-strong nation.

When pressed on whether he had thought about shooting for the top job, the soft-spoken 34-year-old replied: "Yes".

Drawing parallels between his pugilism and political careers, the former world champion in eight weight divisions said: "When I started boxing, of course I was planning, you know, and thinking about getting to become a champion. So when I enter politics it's the same thing.

"But, you know, it's far away," he said, adding: "It's God's will."

Before that, however, Pacquiao whose record stands at 54 wins, five losses and two draws, must concentrate on his next bout with Brandon Rios of the US at the Venetian Resort & Casino on Nov 24 in Macao.

The unconventional start time of 10:00 am is for the benefit of the lucrative US pay-per-view audience, which will be settling down to watch the fight mid-evening on Saturday, as Top Rank promoter Bob Arum attempts to elbow his way into the China market.

And viewers will not be oblivious to the fact it is probably make or break time for Pacquiao's boxing career.

Despite his last fight ending in a disastrous knockout, when Juan Manuel Marquez caught him with a huge right hand that saw the Filipino crumple to the canvas - his second successive defeat - Pacquiao refuses to entertain the notion he will lose a third straight bout, or retire.

He said he was "100 percent" sure he would beat Rios (31-1-1), giving him one more chance to regain his credibility - and potentially another shot at a world title.

"He's OK, but I can say he's a greasy fighter and he loves to fight inside, he loves to fight toe-to-toe," he said in an interview on Saturday as he kicked off a promotional tour for the Rios battle.

"This is going to be a good fight - more action in the ring. Hopefully he won't run away."

Pacquiao insists he is as fit as ever and will focus on not leaving himself open to Marquez-style punishment.

He's also ignoring calls from friends, family and media commentators, fearful for his health, to call it a day.

Once regarded as the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, he dismisses the possibility of defeat at the hands of the much younger - and possibly hungrier - Rios.

"There's a little bit of pressure for this fight but I believe in myself that I can still fight and improve," he said. "I still can knock somebody out in the ring.

"I never think negative. I only think positive," Pacquiao said, conceding his nearest and dearest were desperate for him to bow out of the fight game.

"Especially my mother," he said. "My mother doesn't want me to fight any more, she doesn't like it. She wants me to focus on serving people."

His trainer too, the legendary Freddie Roach, has categorically stated that if he loses to Rios it will be the last time he sets foot in the ring.

"If he loses, I will tell him to retire," Roach was reported as telling ESPN.

Pacquiao's preparation for the fight will begin in the Philippines next month, with light training for conditioning in the morning and hitting his gym in the afternoon before he steps up the work rate to put himself through weeks of workouts.

Acknowledging he is no longer a young fighter - but confident he will be in as good a shape as ever - he said: "I need to focus this training camp on maintainin g the speed, specifically the footwork."

(China Daily 07/29/2013 page23)