After a glittering 26-year boxing career, Manny Pacquiao has finally called it quits. The 42-year-old senator, who is going to be running for president, finished his career with a record of 62-8-2, with 39 of his victories coming by knockout.
Though his latest fight against Cuban champion Yordenis Ugas ended in defeat, the Fighting Pride of the Philippines still showed gamesmanship and flashes of his prime self. While that wasn’t the ideal swan song, he wasn’t knocked down in the fight, and he didn’t give up. He simply came up against a younger fighter whose coaches created an excellent game plan that took advantage of Ugas’ physical advantages. It’s also worth noting that he was fighting after a two-year layoff.
However, Pacquiao will not be remembered for his last fight. Instead, he will be remembered for a legendary career that was littered with victories against some of the best fighters to grace the ring. His hard-hitting and frenetic style in his prime years were a thing of beauty to witness, which is why he became a household name not just in the Philippines, but all over the world.
His resume speaks for itself:
- Only fighter with titles in eight divisions
- First to win titles in four of boxing’s original weight classes
- First to win lineal championship in five weight classes
- First to win titles across four decades (1990s-2020s)
He wasn’t afraid of fighting the best, either, and was always game for a fight even when he was the smaller man.
Pacquiao transcended the sport of boxing during his ascent to superstardom. His million-dollar smile, which was evident whenever he wasn’t actually fighting in the ring, and sometimes even when he was in battle, took the world by storm. At 5 feet, 5 and a half inches, he often wasn’t the tallest man in the room, but his presence dwarfed everyone else’s.
When Pacquiao fought, all of us Filipinos around the globe watched. Win or lose, we always wanted to see our hero step into the ring, and few boxers can say that they were able to cease armed conflicts temporarily. That’s an incredible amount of influence to hold in a country with a population of over 100 million people, with millions more living overseas.
By stepping into the ring, it sometimes felt like the “Pac-Man” carried our collective hopes and dreams with him to battle. He was easy to identify with, having come from the same abject poverty that so many of our countrymen still face to this day, and his humble beginnings made all of his accomplishments even more astounding. So many Filipinos understood what it felt like to be desperate to put food on the table, and so it was easy to celebrate a man who started fighting professionally at the age of 16, and carried on until he was in his 40s.
He’s been fighting so long that it almost seems surreal to see him retire, but few fighters get to leave on their own terms. Many of them end up sticking around far too long, and it’s often heartbreaking to see those gladiators look like shells of their former selves. The fact that he’s calling time on his career while still in possession of his wits is already another victory.
Personally, I hope that this retirement sticks. At the very least, Manny Pacquiao’s last fight involved a challenge for a world title. Plus, he went down swinging, still trying to win even though he had absolutely nothing left to prove in the ring.
That’s Manny in a nutshell, though. He didn’t finish his career undefeated, but even after all of his high profile losses, he was an example to us because he always got up, got back in the gym, and got ready for the next fight. He didn’t have any quit in him.
After losing through a vicious knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8, 2012, he continued to fight on for almost nine more years and even won a bunch more titles while compiling an 8-3 record in that span. It was during that time where Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. put on their 2015 megafight that still holds the all-time pay-per-view record at 4.6 million buys. He lost that fight too, but again got back on his feet and kept winning. I was at that fight in Vegas, and I can tell you that I’ll never attend another sporting event with such an electric atmosphere.
In the ring, Pacquiao was the embodiment of the strength of Filipinos, many of whom have had to pick themselves up over and over again. He was an inspiration to the common man, and his career will forever be remembered by the people of the Philippines.
I wish him nothing but the best in his retirement, and want to thank him personally for helping bring pride to all of us Filipinos. Good luck in the next stage of your life, Manny. Thanks for all of the memories.
We’ll be sharing our favorite Manny Pacquiao fights later this week. Stay tuned!