By CARLO ANOLIN
Manny Pacquiao never dodged the question “Will this be your last fight?” but his answer remained the same all throughout the three months since his fight against Errol Spence Jr. was announced in May and Yordenis Ugas served as the replacement more than a week ago.
This could be the last fight of his career spanning more than two decades and four generations.
“All I can say is it could be or there’s more. One at a time,” Pacquiao said in an interview with Premier Boxing Champions ahead of his super WBA welterweight title bout against Ugas at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada Saturday, Aug. 21 there (Sunday in Manila). “But right now my determination is always there ‒ hundred percent.”
Pacquiao began his professional career at 16 years old in 1995 and won his first bout against compatriot Edmund Enting Ignacio as a junior flyweight in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.
He then fought nine more times in the same year and remained undefeated in 10 matches before Rustico Torrecampo beat him in February 1996 in Mandaluyong, which served as his first battle scar in boxing.
But the groundbreaking changes in his life poured when Pacquiao, 22 then, landed on American soil for his debut there, stunning late South African opponent Lehlohonolo “Lehlo” Ledwaba for a six-round technical knockout win at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The win enabled him to capture the IBF super bantamweight title.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Records are records, but for Pacquiao that is just a bonus among his greatest feats not only boxing but also his successes in life.
For the fighting senator, the most important thing for him is the legacy he will be leaving that will serve as an inspiration for the next generation of boxers and humanity, in general, as well.
“Among the millions of Filipinos and thousands of boxers all over the world, I get the chance to put my name in the history of boxing, put a record in boxing history, and also bring honor to my country,” said Pacquiao, who improved to a 62-7-2 win-loss-draw record after beating Keith Thurman in July 2019, a two-year hiatus since taking on Ugas.
“I want to be an inspiration, a role model not only in boxing but as a person. Doing good things in this Earth is the most important thing and building a relationship [with] God. So that’s my mission and my dream to accomplish.”
Pacquiao, the only eight-division world boxing champion, explained that he wanted to maximize the time and energy left in his gas tank, saying that boxing will always be his passion and it would be hard to leave it just like that.
“That’s why in my career, I don’t want that to happen. Like I’m going to retire now and come back again. The time is wasted.”
After the bout, Pacquiao, a Senator in the Philippines, said he will be making an announcement whether he’ll run for the highest political seat in the country or not as talks began to make a buzz with the May 2022 presidential elections nearing due date.
Win or lose, Pacquiao said he will carry on as a humble role model and inspiration to everyone, leaving his fate of becoming a “living legend” to the people.
“I have another work to do besides boxing,” he said. “At least in my career, for more than 20 years, I inspired people, I already gave inspiration to other people, putting a record in boxing history. That’s not easy. It’s an honor for me and I am blessed by God because I’m not tall. I’m small but in God, there’s…” said Pacquiao, his words unfinished but clinched his hand firmly.