News

April 9 Bout to be Last

By Dan Rafael for ESPN

Manny Pacquiao, the icon of the Philippines and the only fighter in boxing history to win world titles in eight weight classes, will end his career with a fight on April 9 before retiring to a life of politics in his home country, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com.

Arum said he and Pacquiao had dinner last week in New York and discussed his plans for a final fight.

“I’m telling you what he told me last week at dinner in New York,” Arum said. “We talked very seriously, and he said, ‘Bob, hopefully, by the middle of May I will have been elected senator in the Philippines, and at that point I cannot engage in boxing because I need to focus on the senate and I have to be in attendance.’

“Manny told me this fight on April 9 will be his last fight.”

Pacquiao, 36, serves as a congressman for his Sarangani province, but he will run for one of 24 national senate seats.

Twelve of the senate seats, which carry six-year terms, are up for election in mid-May, which is why Pacquiao has insisted that his bout take place no later than mid-April, so he can spend at least a month on the campaign trail.

“There are hundreds of congressmen, but if he wins the senate seat he has to be there to do the work,” Arum said. “They do the real work in the senate in the Philippines, not just make a lot of bulls— speeches like they do in the congress. It’s a real job, and if Manny is serious about wanting to be president, these six years in the senate would be like an audition and for him to show his people that he really is a serious politician.”

Pacquiao will be following rival Floyd Mayweather into retirement. Mayweather won a unanimous decision against Pacquiao on May 2 in the richest fight in boxing history, as well as one of the most anticipated and, ultimately, disappointing. Mayweather (49-0) returned for his swan song by easily outpointing Andre Berto on Sept. 12 and then retired, as he said he would, though many believe he will return in attempt to run his record to 50-0.

Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs), it seems, will also have one more fight following the big one in May, for which he earned in the neighborhood of $180 million.

“Manny told me this would be his last fight, and I’m not sad about it, because he’s going on to a political career which will require a lot of mental acuity, so you don’t want him to stay in boxing too long,” Arum said. “If he stays in boxing a little too long, his mental faculties might be somewhat impaired.”

Pacquiao has won world titles at flyweight, junior featherweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight — from 112 to 154 pounds — during a career that began in 1995 and took him from an unknown to a global star.

After losing to Mayweather, Pacquiao said he had an injured right rotator cuff and subsequently had surgery in Los Angeles to repair the tear. Arum said Pacquiao is expected to begin light training in December.

Pacquiao’s opponent is not set, though there are some names on a short list, including junior welterweight titlist Terence Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs). Arum promoted Crawford’s defense against Montreal’s Dierry Jean on Saturday night in Crawford’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

After Arum said a strong performance would give Crawford the inside track on the fight with Pacquiao, Crawford kept his side of the bargain, beating Jean via 10th-round TKO.

Arum said that England’s Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs), a top welterweight contender and former unified junior welterweight titleholder, is also in the mix.

Arum named Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley Jr. as two other candidates.

Pacquiao is 2-1-1 against Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs), his great rival, but Marquez has steadfastly said he is not interested in a fifth fight.

Bradley (32-1-1, 12 KOs) must beat Brandon Rios on Nov. 7 to be considered. Pacquiao and Bradley have already met twice in lackluster fights. Bradley was awarded a split decision in their 2012 fight that ended with one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history. Virtually everyone thought Pacquiao won easily.

Pacquiao did win easily via unanimous decision in a 2014 rematch.

“My deal with Manny is that after I have my conversations with all the likely contenders, I go to Manny and [adviser] Michael [Koncz] and lay everything out and let them pick who Manny wants to fight,” Arum said. “I gather information, I explain to them the details of each deal, and if they ask my opinion I give them my opinion.”

Arum said Pacquiao’s fight probably will be in Las Vegas, potentially, he said, at the new Las Vegas Arena being built by MGM and AEG just off the famed Las Vegas Strip and due to open in April. If not there, then Arum named the city’s three usual boxing destinations as potential sites: the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mandalay Bay Events Center and the Thomas & Mack Center.

Arum said he also has had people in the Middle East — Dubai and Qatar — contact him about hosting a Pacquiao fight. But that has happened regularly for years, and nothing has come of it.

“There’s always been a lot of talk,” Arum said, “but all it’s been is talk, so my feeling is we would do it in Las Vegas.”

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