Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday said his retirement from the ring is drawing near as he made a low-key return to the Philippines over a week after losing his hyped up bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Few signs of Pacquiao’s early-morning arrival were visible at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, but he was later welcomed by modest crowds as he paraded at the nation’s capital on the back of a flatbed truck.
Politicians including deposed President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada jostled for position to be within camera frame with Pacquiao as he went on the motorcade around Manila, where autographed T-shirts and CDs of Pacquiao’s songs were flung to waiting fans.
Pacquiao later called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd in Malacañang where his motorcade ended late in the afternoon.
The President was joined by Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. during the courtesy call at the Palace. Also present were Solar Sports president Wilson Tieng and Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz.
In a statement, Coloma said the President and Pacquiao talked about the boxer’s injury during their 30-minute meeting.
“He [Pacquiao] said he felt pain in his right shoulder in the final seconds of the third round and that this injury hampered his movement for the rest of the fight,” he added.
Pacquiao also told the President about his intention to take some time to rest and let his shoulder injury heal.
Aquino congratulated and thanked Pacquiao “for bringing honor to the country by fighting with courage and skill,” according to Coloma.
The President received two black jackets from Pacquiao.
It was very different from previous joyous homecomings for the eight-division world champion and congressman, whose fights bring the country to a standstill.
A smiling Pacquiao, his right arm supported by a black sling, told reporters he had not yet decided on his future after his May 2 defeat by unanimous decision in Las Vegas.
He said it could take six months to recover from the surgery on his torn rotator cuff he underwent days after what was billed as the “Fight of the Century.”
Mayweather called Pacquiao a “sore loser” for blaming the injury for his defeat. His disclosure also resulted in him facing a lawsuit, which claims he fraudulently concealed his fitness to fight.
When asked about a possible rematch with Mayweather, Pacquiao said, “I [would]like that. I want that. But my focus right now is my shoulder, my work as a congressman and my family.”
Winner by two points
Pacquiao noted that he had accepted his defeat, but after reviewing the fight on video, he believes he won by a slim margin.
“For the hearts of many, I’m very happy that I’m still their winner. I always fight for the fans ever since I became a boxer,” he said. “I reviewed the tape many times and I won by two points against Mayweather Jr., but I respect the judges’ decision. I already accepted it.”
When asked about his retirement plan, Pacquiao, 36, just replied, “I still don’t know although we are not getting younger anymore. I need to recover first.”
“I’m not saying I am going to retire, but it’s near. I’m already 36, turning 37 this December.”
“My priority is my recovery for the meantime. I still don’t have any plan in my boxing career. I need to rest my shoulder. And after that, let’s see what will happen. So far, my focus is on my family and my responsibility in Congress.”
When asked about his own presidential ambitions, Pacquiao said, “I am considering that. I am thinking about it.
“Our family has no other intention but to help our countrymen. We consider it an obligation.”
Pacquiao is not eligible to stand for the presidency until he reaches the minimum age of 40, ruling him out of the next elections in 2016, with 2022 likely to be his first opportunity.
But he said his wife’s worries over the enormous cost of higher political office — both to their bank accounts and to their family — was making him cautious.
“My wife said it’s difficult because we are losing time for our children,” Pacquiao said of his wife, Jinkee, with whom he has three sons and two daughters.
“We’ve also been spending millions out of our own pockets to help the poor. We can’t just shoo away people lined up at our door,” he added.
Pacquiao is on his second three-year term in the House of Representatives, representing his wife’s home province of Sarangani in southern Mindanao.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd also on Wednesday announced that Pacquiao stands to lose his post as acting chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs because of his frequent absences.
Pacquiao, who was vice chairman of the House committee, assumed the chairmanship because of the resignation of Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello.
“He’s the acting chairman now because we don’t want the position to be left vacant. We reserve the option, of course, of having somebody else who is more active, more involved… more present,” Belmonte told reporters.
Last year, Pacquiao topped the list of absentee lawmakers with 30 absences in 34 session days.
Meanwhile, Buhay party-list Rep. Jose Lito Atienza lashed out at Mayweather for calling Pacquiao a coward.
“The whole world saw the fight. He was the one who kept running, holding on to, embracing Manny and employing other foul tactics just to avoid fighting Manny toe-to-toe. We all saw how good a fight Manny gave Mayweather or Gayweather or Twinkle Toes or whatever his name is. We have to put him in his proper place and defend Manny, who is the face of the Filipino worldwide,” Atienza said in his privileged speech in Congress.
“Manny’s eight world division titles [are]a feat that is unmatched and will continue to remain unmatched for decades to come. He has never backed down from a fight, never shirked from a challenge and has taken all comers, even bigger and more experienced boxers. For Mayweather, who has shown how good he is at running away from a fight, to call Manny a coward is ridiculous, insulting and ludicrous,” he added.
Atienza also noted with great appreciation the action and kind words of Commissioner Bill Brady of the Nevada Athletic Commission, who resigned days after the fight. Brady was quoted as saying that the Pacquiao incident and the aftermath may have been the last straw for him.
“I know this man, he has always been an honorable person. I find it offensive that he’s being sued and ridiculed. It truly breaks my heart,” Brady said, referring to Manny. Brady is widely known for his deep concern for fighter safety and his stand against cheating.
“[Mayweather was the one who kept running away from] Manny. He’s the coward. He should change his name to Mary Poppins. I was there, I saw the fight up close. It may have been a close fight but Manny definitely did not lose. The 118-110 scoring of the two judges was obviously biased, lopsided in favor of Mayweather and could have possibly been rigged,” Atienza said.
As someone who has been with Manny since he started his career, he pointed out that Manny may have his faults, but cowardice has never been one of them. For him, Manny may even be willing to take on Mayweather without any prize money involved and with bare fists.
“I call on my colleagues. This is a matter of national pride. If a foreigner like Commissioner Brady can stand up for Manny, how much more his fellow Filipinos? … China has been tweaking our nose over the disputed islands; Venezuela has been running our last two elections; and Malaysia has been bamboozling us over the Bangsamoro issue. [Enough!] Let us stand up and defend our nation’s pride,” Atienza said.