Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao said he would end his legendary career after fighting Timothy Bradley in April to concentrate on his political career, dousing hopes for a rematch with Floyd Mayweather.
The winner of an unprecedented eight world titles, who has flirted with the idea of running for president, said he was confident of winning a senate seat in the May elections.
Pacquiao is facing American welterweight Bradley for the third time on April 9, after losing to his biggest rival Mayweather in the sport’s richest fight in May last year.
“I am retiring from boxing to concentrate on my political career. My fight with Timothy Bradley will be my last,” Pacquiao said in an interview in his mansion late Monday.
The 37-year-old member of parliament dismissed reports that he would not step away from the sport without a rematch with American Mayweather, who himself retired after beating Pacquiao.
“I did not say anything like that. Nobody interviewed me about that. I will retire after my April 9 fight,” he said.
Pacquiao lost by unanimous decision to his brash arch-rival Mayweather, whom he fought with a torn rotator cuff that later required surgery.
He has won 57 fights, including 38 knockouts, lost six and had two draws in a professional career spanning more than 20 years after being raised in poverty.
Pacquiao is ranked seventh in the race for 12 seats in the nationally-elected senate. He currently represents the southern province of Sarangani in parliament.
The senate is a traditional springboard for future presential campaigns. Three of the last Philippines presidents, including the incumbent Benigno Aquino, were senators before they were elected to the country’s highest office.
“My survey rankings have been consistent and I expect it to improve once the campaign starts,” he said.
The former fish vendor is adored by the Filipino masses who are inspired by his rags-to-riches life story.
Aside from politics, Pacquiao has parlayed his ring legend status to a career in movies, television and product endorsements.
He is also a pastor in a born-again Christian group and credits his renewed faith for transforming him to a devoted family man from a hard-partying womaniser.
In a recent television interview, Pacquiao said he “prayed to God for guidance” before deciding to concentrate on politics.
Pacquiao, however, has been criticised for putting his boxing training before his duties in parliament. Last year, he attended just four of the 70 legislative sessions.
In one of the rare times he took the floor in parliament in 2011, he argued against a bill that would provide free condoms for the poor, citing his Christian beliefs. The bill was eventually signed into law.