The press conference at Madison Square Garden last week for the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley trilogy turned out to also be the day that Pac Man, considered one of the greatest boxing champions in history, officially announced his impending retirement.
That news seemed to soften the mood and take the wind out of the Bradley's sails, who probably felt as if he was attending a funeral rather than a world championship boxing prelude.
Pacquiao stepped to the podium and instead of talking about what he was going to do to Bradley in the ring, dropped the retirement bombshell, which sullied the entire moment.
(Photo Credit: The Shadow League)
“I’m sad to say that this is my last fight," said Pacquiao. "After this I’m going to retire and hang up my gloves and focus on my other responsibility in life, which is to help people. I entered boxing because I wanted to help my family and now I end my boxing career and now my responsibility is to help the Filipino people. I am thankful to God that my career ends in a good way, unlike other fighters who didn’t go out in a good way. I never dreamed that I would accomplish what I did in boxing.”
If this is indeed Pac Man’s last hoorah, expect it to be a war, but it certainly won’t be his last fight.
He’ll still be throwing bolos for Sarangani residents in the impoverished southern region of Mindanao island, where he’s been their Congressional representative in the Philippine House of Representatives since 2010.
Under normal circumstances, the focus of the fight would be on boxing's only eight-division world champion and the reigning Fighter of the Decade, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, who’s entering what’s sure to be another epic brawl against five-time world champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley.
The elite pound-for-pound pugilists will collide in a 12-round World Welterweight Championship on Saturday, April 9, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
This will also mark the first time former Trainers of the Year Freddie Roach (Manny Pacquiao) and Teddy Atlas (Bradley’s new trainer) have faced each other from opposite corners.
Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs), an international icon, is also a three-time Fighter of the Year and the Boxing Writers Association of America's "Fighter of the Decade". His incomparable resume features victories over a gang of present and future Hall of Famers.
No active boxer has sold more live tickets in the U.S. than Pacquiao, who is also credited with over 18 million domestic pay-per-view buys. He returns to the ring after a disappointing unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 2, which generated a record 4.5 million pay-per-view buys and over $400 million in television revenue alone.
That box office success is why legendary promoter Bob Arum and Roach accepted Pac Man’s resignation with extreme caution. Neither seemed to be totally convinced that he’d never return to the ring again. Besides, nobody wants a money maker like Pac Man to retire. He’s feeding a lot of people.
“It’s sad that this will be his last fight,” Roach said. “We've had a great 15 years together and I don’t believe most marriages last that long...If this is his last fight..I like the competition and it’s going to be great fight.”
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Arum -- ever the genius marketing mogul -- spoke eloquently of Pacquiao’s rise as a boxer, his character and his unprecedented global impact on pro boxing.
“Pacquiao says this is his last fight...," said Arum. "Prior to Manny Pacquiao, Americans knew very little about the Philippines. Now thanks to Pacquiao we know so much more. One thing we all realize as Americans is the one country most similar to ours, from politics to people, is the Philippines. We have learned more about the country over the last decade because of Pacquiao. He has been a tremendous symbol of all that’s good in athletics and the Filipino people...because of Pacquiao many people in our country have a special place in their hearts for the Philippines and it’s great that it was a fighter who caused this."
He also gave Bradley his props.
“Bradley always gives more than 100 percent in the ring and conducts himself in and out of the ring with class and professionalism...," said Arum. "If you are looking for a perfect athlete, look no further than Timothy Bradley Jr.”
Bradley, a great champion in his own right, was pretty low-key and seemed unfazed by Pacquiao’s farewell. His intentions will remain the same; to try and knock the legend on his backside. He’s unconcerned with the icon’s perfect fairy tale ending.
Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs), a two-division world champion who has held a world title every year since 2008, completed his comeback from his sole professional loss to Pacquiao in their world title rematch, when he beat undefeated world champion Jessie Vargas on June 27, to reclaim the WBO welterweight world title.
Under the guidance of new trainer Teddy Atlas, Bradley’s been a wrecking crew.
(Photo Credit: ringtv.com)
He’s intent on stealing the headlines from Pacquiao, but he did give him the champion credit for choosing a high-caliber opponent and risking defeat in his last fight.
“Shows you what type of a man Pacquiao is," said Bradley. "He could have picked anyone else but he chose a challenge.”
Regardless of the outcome, Pacquiao’s real fight as a political activist of sorts will continue.
And in the sport of politics, he has thousands of rounds left in him.