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Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao for Philippines president? Boxing icon plays down succeeding Duterte … for now

  • Filipino legend harbours ambitions of becoming president but is focusing on Adrien Broner fight
  • ‘Pacman’ has been encouraged by Rodrigo Duterte to take up the reins in 2022
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 January, 2019, 5:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 January, 2019, 6:38pm

Manny Pacquiao has been considered a top contender for the Philippines presidency since he became a member of the senate and talk of him becoming leader of his country has picked up steam again.

The 40-year-old boxer, who remains a hero in his homeland, has even been considered a top contender for the Philippine presidential elections in 2022 by none other than incumbent Rodrigo Duterte, who has announced in the past that he intends to make Pacquiao his successor.

Duterte said during Pacquiao’s 39th birthday bash in 2017 that the Filipino icon would make an ideal president. “I told him when we were alone, I want him to become president,” Duterte said in 2017.

“You have brought so much pride and joy to our country for being the world champion in the field of boxing,” Duterte said of the fighting senator.

Pacquiao, who won a congressional election in May 2010 and has been a senator in the Philippines since May 2016, would make a popular president of the 95 million-strong nation.

The eight-division world champion has hinted in the past that he might run for president, but for the moment he’s playing down a possible bid for the presidency and says he remains focused on boxing as he prepares to defend his WBA welterweight title against American Adrien Broner on January 19 in Las Vegas.

Pacquiao said on Wednesday he had put any future political aspirations on hold – until he at least finishes his business in the ring as he comes to the twilight of a phenomenal boxing career. However, Pacquiao has made it clear in the past that he wanted to be “an inspiration to everyone”.

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“A lot of people are saying that I can be the next president,” Pacquiao said on Wednesday. “But I’m not thinking about that. I don’t have plans right now. Whatever path that God gives to me I will fulfil it.

“Being a public servant is different from sports. It’s more on the mind and a lot of problems, thinking about how to solve those problems in the country, and also to provide solution to those problems.”

Just last month, a reporter asked if he would still continue boxing if he became president. Pacquiao replied: “I hope so.”

There are many people who want Pacquiao to one day run the country, not least his long-time trainer, Freddie Roach, who has returned to his corner since splitting with “Pacman” after his last loss against Australia’s Jeff Horn in July 2017.

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“I haven’t spoken to him about running for president but he wants to help the people and the best way to help people is to be the boss,” Roach said. “He probably wants to be the first president to win a world championship. He’s always been a guy who does 100 things at once.”

There’s also speculation that Pacquiao, 60-7-2, 39 KOs, would fight his old rival Floyd Mayweather again soon after the two met again at an NBA game at the Staples Centre on Tuesday.

Pacquiao lost their 2015 mega fight by unanimous decision but complained of a shoulder injury that required surgery and there’s been talk of a rematch even though the unbeaten American said he was “retired” from the ring.

Pacquiao said on Wednesday that he was looking at one fight at a time and has no plans to fight Mayweather again.

He also insisted that he would not fight exhibition bouts like Mayweather did on New Year’s Eve when the American scored a devastating first-round TKO win over Japanese 20-year-old kick-boxer Tenshin Nasukawa.

“I won’t do that. If I’m Floyd, I wouldn’t do that,” said the Filipino, who teased Mayweather with a Tweet immediately after the one-sided fight, suggesting he should be fighting somebody his own size.

“Exhibition match where you just knock him out. That’s not good for the fans.”