After confusing fans with his on-again, off-again retirement announcement this month, Manny Pacquiao has finally spelt it out plainly and clearly that he is hanging up his boxing gloves once and for all. And good on him for making the right call. The 42-year-old Filipino boxing icon (62-8-2, 39 KOs) has nothing left to prove to anybody, winning world titles at an unprecedented eight different weight classes, over a stellar 26-year career. But his unanimous decision defeat by Yordenis Ugas on August 21 showed he simply cannot compete at the very top any more. To the greatest fans and the greatest sport in the world, thank you! Thank you for all the wonderful memories. This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but I’m at peace with it. Chase your dreams, work hard, and watch what happens. Good bye boxing. https://t.co/Bde4wO82sA — Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) September 29, 2021 That is not to say he still couldn’t beat many highly-skilled boxers in the welterweight ranks, and earn handsome fight purses while thrilling his legion of fans. The freakishly-fit and unwaveringly-dedicated Pacquiao has always raged against the dying of the light, insisting that age is just a number, even when it comes to getting punched in the face. Manny Pacquiao announces retirement from boxing But it always felt like he would no longer get in the ring once he knew he could no longer beat the very best, and we’ve finally arrived at that point. Many observers thought this moment would come two years earlier, when he took on American Keith Thurman – 10 years his junior – in July 2019. But Pacquiao proved all the doubters wrong when at 40 years old he stunned the dangerous “One Time” to win the WBA super welterweight title, becoming the oldest ever world champion in that weight class. He was stripped of the belt for inactivity 18 months later, with the world in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, and by the time we saw him again, it looked like Father Time had finally caught up with Pacquiao. He had lost that crucial step, something the Filipino icon’s supporters perhaps fooled themselves into thinking would never happen. But boxing is by and large a young person’s game – and thankfully we won’t see Pacquiao embarrassing himself in lucrative (and ludicrous) exhibition fights that are beneath him like his great rival Floyd Mayweather. Nor will we see him endangering his health like 58-year-old former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield did this month by boxing former UFC champion Vitor Belfort. No, thankfully Pacquiao will now focus full time on his career in politics, which for 11 years has threatened to drag him away from the ring. The most famous man in the Philippines has now announced his long-awaited run for the presidency, having first been elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, before winning a Congressional seat in 2016. The fighting Senator continued to juggle his new day job with the rigours of training, but the time has finally come for him to completely move on. And the timing is perfect. For Pacquiao is simply unlikely to ever again get his hands on one of the big boxing titles, with a queue of younger, hungrier fighters either ahead of him or snapping at his heels looking to play the role of legend killer. Of course, Pacquiao was set to fight Errol Spence Jnr instead of Ugas last month, and was perhaps spared a much sounder beating when the IBF and WBC champion damaged his retina just a week out from the fight. Pacquiao deserves credit for still wanting to test himself against the best, but on the evidence of his performance against the 35-year-old Ugas, Spence would’ve enjoyed an easy night against the Filipino. The other super fight out there for Pacquiao, against WBO champion, Terence Crawford, would likely not end well for him either. Going down the ranks, Thurman would also be looking for that rematch, while Shawn Porter is also firmly in the mix, along with Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia. Then there is the up-and-coming problem in 23-year-old American Virgil Ortiz Jnr. At least this way, Pacquiao goes out in his own terms. Not face down on the canvas, or after a string of increasingly desperate defeats like so many ageing legends in combat sports do, out of pride and financial necessity. Let’s just hope we’re not back here talking about Pacquiao boxing Logan Paul in a couple of years’ time.