Boxing: Manny Pacquiao Retires After Historic Career Inside the Ring

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Manny Pacquiao vs Yordenis Ugas on 08-21-21. Photo: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions

Former eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao announced his retirement on Tuesday, closing the book on what will be a first ballot Hall of Fame career.

One of the greatest superstars the sport of boxing has ever seen has officially retired.  Former eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao announced his departure from the sport of boxing in a lengthy statement posted on Instagram in which he thanked his family, trainers, and supporters from around the world.

As has been well-chronicled, Pacquiao’s journey from poverty in the Philippines to global superstardom and immense wealth through boxing is nothing less than a timeless success story.  From providing for his family as a young boy, to being a celebrated icon in his final fight this past August, “Pacman” helped to grow the sport and business of boxing on a global scale.  Emerging in the early social media era of the late 2000’s, Pacquiao broke the model and as a brand overcame language barriers to become a massive draw in all parts of the world as fans of the sport everywhere became enchanted by watching the talented 5’5 dynamo dismantle foes with an blistering offensive attack.

His eight-division masterpiece is so impressive a benchmark that it is difficult to fathom it being broken any time soon in the modern era.  From winning titles at 112 to 147 pounds from 1998 to 2016, Pacquiao goes down as the only octuple champion in boxing history.  Of his contemporaries, Amanda Serrano comes close with seven world titles while former Pacquiao foes Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather are tied with six.

Inside the ring, the small Pacquiao was a box office attraction of titanic proportions.  He would frequently draw immense numbers on pay-per-view, with classic victories over the likes of De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and Juan Manuel Marquez.  As his career expanded, he went on to headline shows around the world in stadiums and arenas everywhere from Las Vegas, Texas, Australia, and Macau.

In the early 2010’s the top story in boxing for years was whether or not a deal could be made between rival promoters Bob Arum and Leonard Ellerbe to have Pacquiao face fellow legend Floyd Mayweather Jr.  It became an infuriating process every year that the fight wasn’t made, and most felt it was one of the biggest disappointments in the business of boxing that the fight was not made before it was devalued by Pacquiao losing to both Timothy Bradley and Marquez. Despite this, Pacquiao went on to have a three fight win-streak and a fateful (later revealed to be planned) meeting at a basketball game led to boxing’s most elusive contest.

In 2015, the “Fight of the Century” finally took place as both Top Rank and Mayweather Promotions got a deal done.  It was a special event, which brought together the broadcast teams of powerhouse networks HBO and Showtime to present the event.  On May 2, 2015, the two collided in a twelve round bout that saw the larger Mayweather outmaneuver and pick apart Pacquiao to take the unanimous decision.  In the end, the fight generated a reported 4.6 million pay-per-views to shatter the all-time pay-per-view record.  It was a testament to the anticipation and drawing power of both men.  By comparison, Mayweather’s bout with Conor McGregor that brought together the fan bases of boxing and MMA delivered 4.4, falling just short of the mark.

Outside the ring, Pacquiao went on to become the rare boxer who gained crossover stardom.  His singing career became a frequent talking point during his many appearances on late-night talks shows.  He would appear in several commercials, selling Foot Locker gear, pistachios, smart phones, and plenty more in-between.  Where usually only players from the America’s sports were given such opportunities, Pacquiao was the rare boxer to became part of the pop culture lexicon.

Pacquiao in his announcement gave credit to those who helped him in his career.  His relationship with Freddie Roach became one of the most celebrated athlete/coach pairings in sports history.  Pacquiao credited Roach with taking him from an athletically gifted fighter with a dynamite left-hand, to the two-handed fighter who wrought havoc on opponents.  Roach benefitted, admitting that uniting with Pacquiao changed his career as more fighters sought his tutelage after seeing the results of his famous pupil.  Roach was awarded Trainer of the Year a record seven times, with several coming in large part due to his work during the prime years of Pacquiao’s career.

His career inside the ring was defined as the saga of a smaller man conquering the challenges of the larger man.  Outside the ring, his pursuit of the past several years is that of public office.  While he was always likely to win the popular vote, few could have imagined him balancing his work as a congressman simultaneously as he returned to the ring for more blockbuster fights.  This has led to his latest chapter.  At 42 years old, there is nothing left to prove in boxing.  Now, Pacquiao is looking to pursue the highest office possible in his homeland: The Presidency.

In the end, Pacquiao goes down as a legend whose talent and charm made him a household name.  By the numbers, he is an all-time great.  By the response from his fans, particularly at home, it is clear he also achieved the most special of titles: champion of the people.

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